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Old 07-03-2004, 09:56 PM   #1
philosphrstone
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Slack for 233Mhz K6 with 32MB Ram?


I have some neighbors who have older hardware and want to try linux on their machines for all the typical reasons. Basically they are to be used as internet terminals, with web browsing, email, instant messaging, file sharing... maybe type some letters, do a little printing. Basic stuff...

What version of Slack should I try? Maybe another distro would be better? The machines in particular are limited to 32 megs of ram, and it's old style simms, so there little chance I can get more for them. Is there a site that could give me some help going about doing the install, you know, what packages to avoid, services, etc...? Each machine has 6 gigs or so of disk, so I think the ram issue is really the determining factor, but I could be wrong. I was thinking of trying to run Fluxbox on them, but I don't even know if they have power enough to deal with it...

I would just slap a fresh installation of Win95 on them, but I know if I do, they will be back and broken soon, and I don't want to have to deal with that! Any help is greatly appreciated.
 
Old 07-03-2004, 10:28 PM   #2
caulktel
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DSL

Hi,

I would use DSL (Damn Small Linux), the latest version is .7.1, and would work real well on that hardware. Check out their site, I think you would like it. http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/

Joel
 
Old 07-03-2004, 10:32 PM   #3
caulktel
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Fluxbox

Oh, I forgot to mention that DSL uses the Kdrive x server and Fluxbox as the window manager, both great for low end hardware.

Joel
 
Old 07-03-2004, 11:08 PM   #4
philosphrstone
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Hmmm... looks like it may be the ticket. Something I should have mentioned is that the users of the end result of this endeavor are able to drive the car, but not fix, build, or repair it. Would you still recommend DSL for such users?

I know they will have some learning to do just getting used to fluxbox. I do as well, as I have used it very little. Can you suggest a good flux tutorial? KDE and Gnome are simple for me generally, having been using windows for a long time, and the users are the same way, but unfortunately, they would run like slugs on the hardware, hence my silly questions!
 
Old 07-03-2004, 11:17 PM   #5
gbonvehi
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I don't recommend DSL por that kind of users... install slackware and if you can, use GNOME or KDE, if you can't try XFCE, it's a very nice and lightweight desktop system.
Fluxbox is simply to configure (it's a text file) but most "desktop" users don't like writing each shortcut perhaps there's a menu editor for fluxbox, i used it only once so i don't know if there is... my opinion is that you should try XFCE
 
Old 07-03-2004, 11:40 PM   #6
d_unit
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I believe fluxbox would be fine if you set it up for them. Have the system set up so it boots straight into X and then all they have to do is click on the root background to get root menu and select what they want to use from the menu (as long as the programs they are going to be using are set up already). Icewm probably wouldnt be a bad window manager either.
Good Luck
 
Old 07-04-2004, 12:53 AM   #7
major.tom
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I doubt it's 100% necessary, but I'm sure it'd run much better if you were able to upgrade their memory to 128 MB.

I've run fluxbox on a P200 with 128 MB RAM - it was a bit pokey, but not bad. Launching Mozilla always seemed the slowest thing. I don't think KDE would run well on that slow a system, though.

Garry
 
Old 07-04-2004, 01:35 AM   #8
philosphrstone
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Ok, so if I am going to try slack, should I perhaps try to get an older version? I noticed in my travels that slack 8.1 is still around as an iso, and is a single cd, as compared to 9 and 10 being two. I was thinking it is likely optimized for older hardware of the time...

What smallish window manager is the most like windows to the user? I think considering the limitations to the hardware, that if I go ahead and set these machines up, that I will basically lock them down, because they dont have the power to add to anyway. Not much differently than the terminals ya see in an internet cafe.

Unfortunately, I have no idea where you would get that old ram nowadays, and I suspect if you did find some, it would likely be more expensive than current ram is! It isn't even SDRAM, it's just 60 nanosecond SIMM DRAM, but if I recall, most sticks of that type were 1,4,8 megs with 16s (which currently occupy 2 of the 4 slots) and 32s being rare due to the fact ram was 50 bucks a meg at the time!

Edit: Both the machines in question still have the "designed for Windows 95" sticker on them, but are built from components...

Last edited by philosphrstone; 07-04-2004 at 01:40 AM.
 
Old 07-04-2004, 02:20 AM   #9
major.tom
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I've only been using slack since version 8, but I'm not sure there's a great difference between them and current (I'd probably just go with current - 10). The 2nd cd only has (to my knowledge) kde and gnome. So if you're going with a more minimal window manager, I think you can get 99.9% of what you need from the 1st CD.

The description for one of the wm's describes itself as w95-like - fvwm95. Haven't used it, though.

If it's only 30-pin simms, you might have trouble finding replacements. I would send an e-mail to the local linux user group - someone would be only to happy to throw some of that stuff your way.

I'd be surprised, however, if it is 30-pin memory, since that stuff dates back to 486's. My P200 box uses (168-pin, I think) EDO ram. As you say, it's not cheap, but by no means impossible to find. (EDO ram has the notch in the middle). A couple years ago, I bought 128 megs for about $80 US on ebay (including shipping). Again, a local '4 sale' mailing list would be the ideal place to find this stuff, or a well-connected friend.

If it's PC100 or (possibly, but unlikely) PC133 SDRAM, you can still find that stuff in Futureshop or wherever. (There might even be PC66 SDRAM, but I went straight from 30-pin to PC133, so I'm not sure.)

Good luck,

Garry

Last edited by major.tom; 07-04-2004 at 02:33 AM.
 
Old 07-04-2004, 04:42 AM   #10
philosphrstone
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Using Xfce on Slack 10 with the K6 machine I described does indeed work, but even with some services turned off it is slow like molasses. Swap file useage for everything, so it is all in slow mo when Xorg is running with the mere 32 megs of EDO style Ram.

I checked the prices at a local computer store, and the website claims they have such ram, but want as much for another 32 megs as a 128 meg stick of SDRam goes for... The chipset is an Intel 440tx and does indeed have one SDRam slot in an either/or configuration with the Simm slots. The trick may be in whether or not the board can comprehend a stick that large even after I flash it to the latest bios they wrote for it, and unfortunately I live on a small island, so going to the comp store is rather inconvenient and costly. Hence my original desire to make do with what hardware is available. I would consider the ebay option, but I dont do credit cards, and as such dont have an account with them.

I may give the DSL option a try after I try some of the other small GUIs for Slack.

I did discover a distro of slack (cant think of the name offhand) that was created with older hardware in mind, but it was without a gui at all as it was meant to work from the command line on later 486s and early pentium class machines...
 
Old 07-04-2004, 12:00 PM   #11
gnashley
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Try Amigo Linux for an EASY way to install a Slack9.1-compatible distro with a pre-configured windowmaker desktop and plenty of light-weight-GUI tools. Runs with as little as 16MB RAM and has knoppix-style auto-configuration.
www.amigolinux.org
 
Old 07-04-2004, 12:01 PM   #12
bughead1
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Quote:
Originally posted by philosphrstone


I did discover a distro of slack (cant think of the name offhand) that was created with older hardware in mind, but it was without a gui at all as it was meant to work from the command line on later 486s and early pentium class machines...
You can use Slackware 10 for that sort of thing. You don't need an earlier version. In fact, by connecting a HD temporarily to a P1 for a quick install of disksets "A" and "N," and using "mkrescue" to create a boot floppy, I set up a 486SX 33 MHz with 8 MB RAM on Friday, for just this purpose. The boot floppy was needed because the old bios in the 486SX won't permit it to boot from a decent sized hard drive.

It works fine for what I need it for and it supports ssh. By using the latest version of Slackware, you don't have to go back through several years of bugfixes and security upgrades. "installpkg" works great to add to this minimal installation as needed, and by using Slackware 10, you don't have to worry much about a bunch of dependencies and obsolete libraries when you want the latest version of some piece of software.
 
Old 07-04-2004, 01:13 PM   #13
major.tom
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Another suggestion I would make (I know it's not your original question, but touches on the previous post) is that if the pc can't handle large drives or only uses a slower read speed (eg. UDMA 33), throw a Promise HD controller in there. It's a bit of a pain to have to use a boot disk, and you'll definitely notice the speed increase from 33 to 66, 100 or 133 Mbps.

The controller in my P200 box only goes at 33 Mhz, so I threw in a cheap/spare Promise/66. Very usable with a lighter-weight wm like fluxbox.

Garry
 
  


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