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Old 06-08-2008, 01:03 PM   #1
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what's the best distro for 24MB ram?

Hi. I have an ancient computer, it's currently got Windows 95, 24MB ram, 75MHz processor, etc. I'm looking for the best linux distro to run on it with a dual boot system, keeping the existing windows 95 (and preferably not erasing all my data).

I've tried the Debian installer, it requires 32MB ram and goes all wonky at a certain point. I would love to try DSL, but I need to prepartition my hard drive for that, which has been problemsome.

Neither Partition Logic nor GParted live CD will boot, so I'm stuck with no way to edit my partitions without wiping the whole computer clean.

Also, the BIOS cannot boot from CD unaided, I've been using Gujin to boot from CD but it's started giving me problems.

Do any of you experts out there have advice for how I can get linux on that computer? Thanks so much.
Old 06-08-2008, 02:00 PM   #2
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* 486 processor
* 16MB RAM (32MB suggested)
* 100-500 megabytes of hard disk space for a minimal and around 3.5GB for full install
* 3.5" floppy drive

Are the minimum specs for installing Slackware.
Old 06-08-2008, 02:50 PM   #3
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dam small linux is good.
try going to you can review specs and requirements for all types of Linux
Old 06-08-2008, 06:55 PM   #4
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You can partition it with DSL, just type cfdisk at the command prompt
Old 06-08-2008, 07:11 PM   #5
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cfdisk will wipe out all the data on the drive, right?

Does anyone know of any other programs which won't wipe out all my data?

Old 06-08-2008, 09:38 PM   #6
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You could try 'sbootmgr' to see if it will recognize your cdrom for boot. You would create a sbootmgr floppy disk and boot that. You should read the 'sbootmgr README.TXT'.

If your cdrom is bootable through 'sbootmgr' then you should be able to boot a 'iso'. With that old hardware I would roll back to earlier versions of Slackware, either '8/9/10.1/11' versions; note: there are minors with versions.

If you could increase your RAM to 32MB, then things would be easier. Don't expect to run current X on this system. You probably could get away with a light desktop.

Worst case would be to create floppy disk sets for Slackware install. You can look at the Slackware 8.1 'README' for bootdisks and the Slackware 8.1 'README' for rootdisks.

My bet is on the 'sbootmgr' first!
Old 06-08-2008, 10:09 PM   #7
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Puppy Linux might be good for you.

It's made for the same sorts of situations as DSL and you can boot it up
and run GParted when the usual GParted disk won't work.
Old 06-08-2008, 10:42 PM   #8
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You could consider using FreeBSD 6.3

But you will need to backup your data first, etc
Old 06-09-2008, 12:00 AM   #9
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The easiest way to partition and do an install may be to temporarily remove the hard drive and connect up the hard drive to a different computer. With Debian 4.0, this is pretty straightforward. Just make sure that you connect up just the hard drive and CD-ROM, the same way as in the slow computer (for example, put the hard drive on IDE channel 1, CD-ROM on IDE channel 2).

The only "gotcha" you really need to worry about is that the Debian 4.0 installer will usually install the 686 kernel if it detects a Pentium II or above. This kernel won't work on a Pentium. Therefore, the first thing you need to do after installing is to run:

apt-get install linux-image-2.6-486

That will install the 486 kernel, which will work on your Pentium.

When using the installer, make sure to do manual partitioning. You'll want to shrink the Windows 95 partition. What's the size of the hard drive? There may be some concerns about a BIOS restriction on where GRUB can boot from.

When doing a very basic Debian install, you want to deselect all software suites--including the so-called "base" suite (you won't miss that stuff). There are a number of things you can do to conserve memory. One that's good for a whopping 3megs of RAM is to modify /inittab and comment out all TTYs except the first one. Each console screen eats up about half a meg of RAM.

It's possible to run X within 24 megs of RAM, but it's VERY tight. I'd use icewm-lite for the window manager, and aterm for the terminal (it's much lighter than the default xterm).

I have Debian 4.0 running on a tiny Toshiba Libretto 70CT. It's a 120mhz Pentium with 32megs of RAM. These specs are significantly better than what your old computer, but it's in the same ballpark. I can give you first hand experience on scrimping for every little bit of RAM.
Old 06-09-2008, 12:40 AM   #10
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At 24MB I would not recommend running 'X', but for a machine with text consoles only, that laptop will work very well for many things.
Old 06-09-2008, 08:54 AM   #11
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Talking dream linux......

XFCE: Pentium III 128 MB RAM HDD 4GB free

minimum system spec for Dream Linux is the above one........plz try it
Old 06-09-2008, 09:56 AM   #12
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Is there a reason you cannot install more RAM? Used RAM is SO cheap these days, and makes life much easier for people working on older computers. I can easily live with an older processor if I install a whole whack of RAM. By "a whole whack", I generally mean 256MB, though 128MB can also be plenty.

- My DSL desktop is a Pentium II with 128MB of RAM. I've got a frugal install on the hard drive. With OpenOffice as an "optional" install, it does almost everything I need it to do, and any time I screw things up I just reboot without doing a backup.

- Also, with DSL you can install it on your hard drive as a "regular" Debian install. I've never bothered, since the "frugal" install works best for my addled, butterfinger-prone brain.

- You write that you need to "prepartition" to use DSL. Why? You could just run DSL live from the CD and save your MyDSL settings on your hard drive. No need to save anything more than that on your hard drive. If you simply MUST install the OS on the hard drive, just boot from the live CD and type "install" at the boot prompt. That'll take you into fdisk and you can partition to your heart's content.

Last edited by roystonlodge; 06-09-2008 at 10:04 AM.
Old 06-09-2008, 10:59 AM   #13
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128 megs of RAM on an old Pentium 75? The motherboard probably can't take more than 64megs of RAM (four 16meg SIMMs...good luck finding those). I'm guessing it has two 4meg SIMMs and two 8meg SIMMs.
Old 06-09-2008, 11:42 AM   #14
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In that case, I'd suggest maxing out the RAM at 64MB and run DSL from the LiveCD.

But that's just me.
Old 06-09-2008, 12:06 PM   #15
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Would you spend fifty bucks on hard to get 16meg SIMMs to upgrade a 75mhz computer?


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