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Old 08-02-2007, 04:19 AM   #1
Solid Liquid
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Choosing desktop enviroment for an older computer


Hi,
I recently found an older computer (266MHz, 64MB ram, 16GB HDD) and after comparing different distributions I decided to install Slackware 12.0 on it. Now I have to choose which desktop enviroment and windows manager can match not-so-hard administration and instalation and enough perfomance on this computer. I am thinking about Xfce (because, as far as I know, KDE or Gnome would need better hardware) but I didnt find if it would work fluently, so I'd like to ask you for your opinion and recommendations. As WM recommended me my friend Xfree86..

Thanks, SL
 
Old 08-02-2007, 04:23 AM   #2
b0uncer
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Quote:
As WM recommended me my friend Xfree86..
Didn't quite get that; did you mean that your friend recommended XFree86 as your window manager? Probably not, because XFree86 is an X server (the thing on which window managers etc. run), like Xorg too, except that Xorg is another project and nowadays used more widely than XFree86, if I'm right. Anyway.

It's true Gnome and KDE require quite some memory to run smoothly, and having a decent cpu is not bad either. XFCE is notably lighter, but if you find it doesn't run all right (odd, I would have thought it would, as I've tried with a 233MHz machine on which it ran just fine, with 64MB of memory..or that's what I recall), there are loads of options. Just search the web. My favourites are WindowMaker and Fluxbox. There are also IceWM, Blackbox etc. but you'll get the list searching the web. Try Fluxbox or WindowMaker if you like them; note that they're pretty different from XFCE, Gnome or KDE.
 
Old 08-02-2007, 04:34 AM   #3
Simon Bridge
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Quote:
WM recommended me my friend Xfree86..
Xfree86 is not a WM. It is what Xorg forked from.

I have seen Xfce run well on low specced machines. ut you should distinguish between window managers, graphical shells, file managers etc. that go to make a graphical desktop.

Your main issue will be the slow speed and minimal HDD real estate.

You'll find people also seem to like IceWM and Fluxbox for such machines. Both are excellent.

For an overview on file managers:
http://www.linux-mag.com/id/353/

... you get the idea.
 
Old 08-02-2007, 06:44 AM   #4
Road_map
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Liquid
I recently found an older computer (266MHz, 64MB ram, 16GB HDD)
I think the amount of RAM will be a problem. I ran Slackware 8.1-10.2 (with KDE as desktop manager) on an Pentium I 200 MHz, but with 128 MB RAM.

With 64 MB RAM you can try fluxbox or windowmaker.
 
Old 08-02-2007, 09:12 AM   #5
hitest
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I'm currently running XFce4 on two Slack 12 units at home. Both are Plll 800 units; one has 384 MB RAM, the other 768 MB RAM.
For 64 MB RAM XFce will probably run on that unit, but it will go into swap quite a bit. I would try out XFce and see what happens. If Xfce craps out too much then go to Flux. Try out both:-) I've run Xfce on a Pll 266 with 128 MB RAM on Slack 10.2 and it ran fine.

http://www2.citytel.net/~gnielsen/snapshot5.jpg
 
Old 08-02-2007, 11:03 AM   #6
gnashley
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I think you'll find xfce pretty sluggish on that machine. You may need to build your own desktop environment using even lighter componenty like the fluxbox or windowmaker window managers. Then choose a light filer like ROX-1.2.2. If you want a panel use fspanel, fbpanel-2.2 ow wbar-1.3.
 
Old 08-02-2007, 11:19 AM   #7
b0uncer
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Quote:
With 64 MB RAM you can try fluxbox or windowmaker.
This one's funny.. (no offence, don't get me wrong -- read the following) I just happened to read a book about WinNT4 again, and there it was stated that one should have at least 32MB of RAM, but for a NT4 machine 64MB is the minimum to decently work with; "memory is now cheap, so go out and buy 32MB or even 64MB more rightaway!" Does it sound like this situation?

I tried to buy oldish SDRAM (133MHz, 256MB) some half a year ago. The guy told me they only had two pieces left, the other one returned (i.e. used), and when I asked how much the 256MB would cost, I was surprised - for the same amount of money I could almost buy twice as much DDR. Either he was trying to rob me, or the old style memory was becoming extinct..
 
Old 08-02-2007, 04:23 PM   #8
Solid Liquid
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Hi,
thak you guys, I didnt await so many responses..

Quote:
Didn't quite get that; did you mean that your friend recommended XFree86 as your window manager?
well, I was a little confused about the linux graphic system structure, but I hope its clear now..

as I read your answers, I decided to try the Xfce, if it doesnt work, than one of the WM..

Quote:
I was surprised - for the same amount of money I could almost buy twice as much DDR.
yeah, I tried to buy some additional RAM for this computer, but i simply didnt have what to buy.. but hopefully I can get more 32megs from my friend.

Anyway, it is great, that there is forum like this, where like me can get in to linux.

Thank you for your time and have a nice day, SL
 
Old 08-02-2007, 05:56 PM   #9
hitest
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Liquid
Hi,
thak you guys, I didnt await so many responses..

well, I was a little confused about the linux graphic system structure, but I hope its clear now..

as I read your answers, I decided to try the Xfce, if it doesnt work, than one of the WM..


yeah, I tried to buy some additional RAM for this computer, but i simply didnt have what to buy.. but hopefully I can get more 32megs from my friend.

Anyway, it is great, that there is forum like this, where like me can get in to linux.

Thank you for your time and have a nice day, SL
If you can try to get at least 64 MB as that will give you more choices in the types of graphical environments that you can use. With 128 MB of RAM you'll be able to use XFce successfully. Lighter environments like Flux are not as user-friendly for beginners.
Have fun:-)

Last edited by hitest; 08-02-2007 at 05:58 PM.
 
Old 08-02-2007, 07:24 PM   #10
Simon Bridge
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Quote:
I tried to buy some additional RAM for this computer, but i simply didnt have what to buy.
Yeah... look out for other old computers to cannibalize, they normally cost less than a new RAM card anyway. Hang out at surplus electronics places and make friends with small HW vendors (they often know who has an old box gathering dust.)

However - I have seen Edgy going on a PII with 64MiB, though the live mode didn't work. It was sluggish, but am running Zenwalk 4.2 on that box right now. (Slack-based with Xfce.) So it is really a case of "try it and see". Have fun.
 
Old 08-03-2007, 02:11 AM   #11
gnashley
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Windows promotional and technical material always recommends only half the RAM really needed to comfortably run Windows.

You should understand that xfce uses its' own WM and also runs a panel and other stuff. By choosing your own components individually you can avoid lots of system overhead. xfce will be pretty sluggish with less than 128MB of RAM.
Until about a year ago my main machine was a PII 266 and I have done a lot of testing of low-RAM setups. With just 32MB of memory you can still run fluxbox okay(even load opera -but more than 2-3 cached pages crash it). You can even do this with 16MB RAM plus 16MB swap! More swap will avoid the crashes but this will still be a slow machine. Using an even lighter window manager like jwm-2.x would be better.
If you have 64MB or RAM try using windowmaker. It will respond as well as fluxbox at 64MB and provides an easy-to-configure environment as it includes its' own GUI conf tool.
 
  


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