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ospreyeagle 01-09-2006 07:40 PM

Distro for Pentium 200 Mhz 64 MB RAM
I recently found ultra portable Sony Vaio PCG 505 G - 200 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 2.1 GB Harddisk. The label on it says it is designed for Windows 98 but I love linux (have Fedora on my computers).I have 2 main uses - ssh to a server and surf the net if possible. Obviously, I would prefer a distribution that is easy to install. Can someone suggest any distribution that would perform optimally on such hardware?

This laptop has an external CD drive and therefore, I would like to avoid Live CD if I can.

All suggestions are welcome. Thanks!!

J_K9 01-09-2006 07:49 PM


Something like Slackware or Gentoo would be ideal for such a system, as you can customise them quite a bit (I suggest using a lightweight WM like ratpoison or Xfce). Or even a distro which branches off Slack, like Zenwalk?

Puppy Linux is small, fast, and reliable - possibly the best out-of-the-box solution for your computer? It can be installed onto the hard drive, so it would be a pretty good choice for your needs.


-jk :)

Ps. Welcome to LQ!! ;)

stress_junkie 01-09-2006 08:06 PM

Another 50 MB distro is Damn Small Linux. It is available at:

The Puppy Linux looks a little bit more interesting because it uses familiar window managers like FVWM and other familiar applications. The DSL distro uses Fluxbox for a window manager and applications that I haven't heard of in other Linux distributions.

J_K9 01-09-2006 08:09 PM

stress_junkie: That's the one I was trying to remember! Lol...

Just found a list of small Linux distros which you might find highly useful! :)



stress_junkie 01-09-2006 08:13 PM


That's a good list for small Linux/Unix distros. I recognized the m0n0wall right off the bat. I've been looking for a distro to use on my AMD-K6 (equivalent to PII) at 350 MHz and a 340 MB SCSI disk. There are so many choices. I'm considering Sentry Firewall CD but I want to see what else is out there. :)

ospreyeagle 01-09-2006 08:41 PM

Thanks for the welcome! I will try DSL, Knoppix and Zenwalk first and let you know my impressions.

J_K9 01-09-2006 09:01 PM

ospreyeagle - No problem! :) I fear KNOPPIX may be too slow for your computer - but you might as well give it a go anyway. ;)



ospreyeagle 01-09-2006 10:30 PM

ubuntu for 200 MHz, 64 MB RAM?
Thanks for warning me in advance about Knoppix. I wonder if Gentoo might also be big for this. Any idea how ubuntu might work in such contstrains ?

ospreyeagle 01-10-2006 06:25 PM

I checked out most of the distributions suggested in this post with a Pentium 3-266 MHZ, 128 RAM, 10 GB harddisk desktop. This is much more than my laptop but I like running a pilot before messing with the real thing. Here are my impressions:

(What is say below relates to simple/naive install and I did not add or remove any packages from initial install. I wanted an x windows therefore did not go for smaller version of the following distros.)

Vector Linux is too big (>800 mb). It has lot of packages but as default does not allow user to control their installation (in comparison to fedora which allows user to control the packages). It was ruled out because of its size.

Puppy Linux live was fast and I was not clear about how to install it on harddisk. I am sure it is not difficult but I did not want to invest time in it. I also did not like its Windows like interface and graphics.

DSL was equally fast and had slick interface (based on Debian/Knoppix). Hard disk installation is explained rather well on DSL forum and is straightforward . Please use google and wiki to find how to install DSL on hard disk(I am currently not allowed to post url on this site). The installation was fast and the results satisfactory. Though some prior knowledge of partitions etc is helpful.

Zenwalk has a good installer but like Vector does not give choice while installing. It installs gnome and open office among others.Thus, it would have swamped my 2 GB harddisk.

My guess is Zen and Vector are geared more towards standard users and not towards lower end (ghost) computers. I think I will stick with DSL (and if that does not work out invest in figuring out Puppy).

Thanks everyone for responses and suggestions.


ospreyeagle 02-12-2006 03:03 PM

OK here is what finally happened:

I had the laptop without the power adapter for CD drive and the bios of the laptop does not recognize the USB directly. I learnt how to boot with the a floppy so that usb can take over. Could not get a full install on hard disk on my Sony PCG 505g but frugal install works well . Found a saviour 'how to' on Damn small linux forum;hl=vaio+sony

Though I am not sure how to save files, make permanent changes (e.g. alias) in bash etc with this type of installation, it works and it works quite fast for this old an system. I had Dell Truemobile 1350 wireless PCMCIA which works out of the box. No other fancy things tested but am quite satisfied.

Next projects:
1) upgrade ram to 96 MB (am not sure if this is cost effective or even needed)
2) Find a cheap and workable(with DSL) ethernet card
3) Learn how to save files and make permanent changes in bash with frugal install. (any help appreciated)

Puppy could not match gui interface DSL's wireless tools so did not try puppy at all.

zaphod_es 10-23-2006 01:32 PM

A bit out of date but I will add to this thread if there is anyone else out there with a Sony PCG-505G or similar hardware. You can boot off the PCGA-CD5 CD-ROM. First you need to tell it where the drive is and then you have to stop DSL from trying to use the PCMCIA. I booted it up and installed with this line:

dsl ide2=0x180,0x386 nopcmcia

I also added the frame buffering 800x600 option the syntax of which escapes me at the moment.

Once the OS has booted from the CD-ROM and you want to access another device you have to disconnect it and start the PCMCIA service.


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