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dryd kio 06-26-2006 07:18 AM

Best Distro for a Dedicated Arcade Machine? (details inside)
Hello, all. I'm currently working on a project for a StepMania machine for an arcade cabinet. I have been running it off of a modified Ubuntu, since that's the distro I'm most familiar with, but we have very limited disk space for what we want to put on this, and Ubuntu is, if you will, too bloated for what I'm trying to accomplish. Thus, I'm turning to you all to help me find a good distro, as I've had no luck so far.

Here is what I need:
  • A functioning X server and display manager - the smaller and more streamlined, the better. I don't need any GUI tools, because all work not relating to the program will be done through virtual consoles only. The X server needs to support the NVIDIA proprietary drivers - not sure on the version needed, sorry. XFree or Xorg are both fine, but again, size is a factor.
  • No extraneous packages - we will need absolutely nothing other than an X server, display manager, and accomodating libraries.
  • A basic kernel that supports IDE, PCI, AGP, and USB devices, as well as the NVIDIA kernel module - again, size is an issue, but boot speed is definitely a higher priority.
  • Basic networking - we're going to set up a system where the machine and another computer (mainly my laptop, running Linux) can be connected directly via CAT5. I'm not entirely sure how this is done yet - still reading up on it :p - but this is required in order to avoid taking the box out every time we need to add stuff to it, and it is possible.
  • No unnecessary security - this box will be completely inaccessible to anyone but me, so I don't need any security on the machine, period. A root account is about the most they need.
  • A package manager (preferrably Debian, since that's what I'm most familiar with) that is fairly easy to use - we're going to be need to install some extra stuff to get the machine up and working independently, and it needs to be installed just as easily as it needs to be removed.

I know these are very exacting specifications, and I'm sorry ^^; I'm willing to do whatever I can in the way of reaching these expectations where any suggestions cannot, but I'm also very good at hosing systems (I killed our machine earlier while removing stuff - removed python2.4, which took the entire display manager, as well as several crucial libraries, with it. Dual lesson; never remove anything that looks crucial, and never ever ever remove stuff at 4:30 in the morning) and would like to avoid doing such work where possible.

Thanks very much for reading all this, and I look forward to any suggestions you have for me. Thanks a lot, it's greatly appreciated. :)

tamoneya 06-26-2006 08:58 AM

i would start with vector linux. It is a smaller lightweight distro and is also up-to-date. I believe there are two versions. One has some extra stuff in it so i would go for the one with the smaller iso. I think this should fit well. Have fun

dryd kio 06-26-2006 10:08 AM

Hm..I've tried it, but it's given me nothing but trouble most of the time. In this particular case, I installed it about 30 minutes ago over my Kubuntu install (with the reformatting and etc.) and now the MBR is corrupted beyond my repair. I really, really don't want to try and use it again after my experiences with it...any other suggestions?

(I really don't mean to sound ungrateful...thanks for actually reading and taking this into consideration, I just wish Vector didn't hate me.)

tamoneya 06-26-2006 11:28 AM

that is really odd. Never experienced that before. sorry. You could try puppy linux or damnsmall with the harddrive install. just a heads up, damnsmall is kernel 2.4 to save space and becase 2.6 doesn't have some of the legacy hardware support. Both can be found on distrowatch

xpromisex 06-26-2006 12:41 PM

I wish that this wasn't going to sound 'fanboyish' but:

Try Arch. The base install is somewhere around 200 MB, it has a current kernel (as of the writing it is 2.6.17-1), has a simple package manager (pacman).

Of course there are some catches such as that the base install has no X server (but you can install one simply).

DSL and Puppy are also very good choices. Maybe check out a harddrive install of SLAX too?

dryd kio 06-28-2006 02:13 AM

After doing a bit of research, I went ahead and downloaded Arch Linux and installled it. A bit of configuring, and it works perfectly! Only about 600 MB for the entire system completely working and configured for our purposes, and it runs very fast, too. Thanks a lot, I guess this is officially resolved now.:)

DeanLinkous 06-30-2006 03:40 AM

ONLY 600 megs.... I thought you wanted minimal! Debian itself would of been smaller than that. Sorry if the response sounds harsh but I am in shock :D

dryd kio 06-30-2006 03:01 PM


Originally Posted by DeanLinkous
ONLY 600 megs.... I thought you wanted minimal! Debian itself would of been smaller than that. Sorry if the response sounds harsh but I am in shock :D

Debian has never been very kind to me or my hardware, and I have never been able to get a working X server on it, ever. Not through compiling, downloading binaries manually, and definitely not through APT. Not even with the help of several Linux gurus. Thus, it wasn't an option in the first place. :p

Considering our previous setup required 1.8 GB just for a base install, I'm more than happy to end up with 600 MB, about one-third that (actually, a bit less - I haven't done any removal of unneeded packages yet :P).

In any case, it works perfectly for our general setup, so I'm happy. Thanks, though. :)

DeanLinkous 06-30-2006 11:15 PM

WoW... well i understand that. I cant imagine that X is that much of a challenge anymore but you are certainly free to pick whichever. How you described it and everything made me think of like 200megs. :) Cant get much slimmer than debian! Not sure which version of Ubuntu you are use to using but they use to have a 'server' boot option that would only install a very minimal system. Might be something to think about if you really want to use ubuntu.

The shock has worn off...a little! :)

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