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VA3OG 12-14-2010 03:28 PM

Thoughts on Distro for older desktop
I want to install a distro on an older desktop. (Packard Bell computer, motherboard is PCCHIPS M758LMR, P-III Celeron)

I have tried Puppy 5.11, openSUSE 11.3, also UBUNTU 10.10. None of them work. Running Live, they all reach a certain point, then crash with a message stating Kernel Panic, then either reboot, or hang. openSUSE 11.1 Live does eventually start up - takes about 15 minutes!

I'm thinking that the machine doesn't have the moxie to run any of these newer distros. (Windows XP installs just fine) Maybe it's the newer kernel version.

Any suggestions? I'd prefer a version of openSUSE, baut am completely open.

Thanks in advance!

pljvaldez 12-14-2010 03:35 PM

Well, it's not OpenSuse, but I typically use Debian on all machines, especially low spec. The reason is that I can install a base system that's stripped down pretty far and then install lightweight apps from the repository to have a full featured desktop. I always feel like the minimalist distros are a bit too thin for my taste. Anyway, at the end when it asks for tasks, use the space bar to unselect everything except standard system. Then afterward you can aptitude install xserver-xorg lxde or whatever window manager you want.

By the way, how much RAM do you have? That'll have a big effect on many standard distros and on which applications you can realistically run on the machine.

Also, what is the purpose of the machine? Is it going to be a desktop machine for email and web browsing, or just a file server, or something else?

sys64738 12-14-2010 03:39 PM

How about:
Should run on small and/or older machines.

VA3OG 12-14-2010 04:10 PM

The machine has 1G of ram. When I got openSUSE 11.1 to start up as a Live version, it was unbearably slow. Every application startup seemed to take almost a minute to get going. Would not even allow the install. Clicked on the icon, watched the whirly thing until it stopped. Never did more than that!

I'll give a try to both DSL and a base Debian to see if they do better. I hadn't tried DSL as I have had problems with it on other machines. But when I think back, it had to do with wireless cards in my laptops. Not an issue for this machine.

The machine will basically be running an amateur radio application called TNOS. Not much else!

I'll post back how I make out with both DSL & Debian.


thekore 12-14-2010 04:18 PM

In addition I've always found Slackware to run well on older hardware.

markush 12-14-2010 05:29 PM

Hello together,

Originally Posted by sys64738 (Post 4191454)
How about:
Should run on small and/or older machines.

Damn Small Linux seems outdated, I looked at the packagelist, they come for example with bash 2.05.

1GB of Ram is enough even for a fullfeatured distribution, but the PIII processor will make the system slow.

In my opinion Slackware would be a good choice, also take a look at Arch. Some weeks Ago I installed Arch on a machine with a PIII and 512MB of Ram, and it runs smoothly even with Gnome.

I'd recommend to us 512MB of swapspace, if your disk is too small, 256MB will work very well, more than 1GB will never be needed by the system.


pljvaldez 12-14-2010 05:31 PM

Damnsmall appears to have been abandoned due to project infighting. I believe one of the original members has moved on to TinyCore Linux.

frankbell 12-14-2010 10:37 PM

I used to run Slackware 12.0 on a Pentium 300 (one of the original IBM PC300s). It couldn't play videos because original Pentium chip didn't have enough oomph, but it could do everything else.

Slack current should run just fine on a PIII. It might look a little slow to those who are spoiled by speed, but it will work, especially with light-weight interface like Fluxbox.

You might also look into Arch, because you can customize it to just what you want. I am not an Arch expert, but I've been experimenting with it in Virtual Box; the installation instructions at their website are very clear.

VA3OG 12-15-2010 10:42 AM

Thanks to all for your posts/help. I ended up putting Debian 5.07 on. It installed flawlessly, runs well, and I am a happy camper! So is the old machine!


pljvaldez 12-15-2010 11:51 AM

Just a couple of follow up points:

In the next month or two, debian will release a new stable version. If you want to keep this version (which will get security updates for a year after the new release), make sure your /etc/apt/sources.list file says "lenny" instead of "stable" on each line. If you prefer to upgrade to the new stable release when it comes out, just change the "lenny" to "squeeze" and then you can dist-upgrade. I've not had to reinstall Debian as you can just dist-upgrade from one to the next (just be sure to read the release notes ahead of time).

Or since you're just starting, you could just dist upgrade to squeeze now (it's in deep freeze pending the release) or reinstall using the squeeze installer.

Enjoy your Debian! is a good site for the underlying Debian system. There's some other good general info on networking and servers and whatnot.

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