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Old 12-13-2003, 01:49 AM   #1
Red Squirrel
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best distro...


I'm sure this question must come often with different needs, but here goes.

I'd like to know what the best, or at least an option, that:

- will run on a 486DX2/64MBof ram
- can be installed by booting off a win98 floppy and starting up a program on the CD -OR- has it's own boot disk. (486's can't boot off CDs, at least not this one)
- will install and run in text mode by default. ISA video cards with 16 colors don't do well with the GUI of linux - I tried installing red hat but because I'm forced into graphical mode when booting the DOS way, I can't see a thing I'm doing.
- will support ISA network cards

I've been wanting to try debian or mandrake but I'm wondering if it "complies" to those needs. Also, it can't take up more then 2GB of space, I have a 3GB hard drive in there but not sure how much the bios actually reconizes, and I want lot of extra space for configuration and stuff.

I'll mostly be using this as a test server as I want to play more with Linux on a seperate machine (the 486) and at the same time I want to see if I can setup some kind of email gateway that I can use to configure all my email and my parant's email accounts then connect to that server from the 2 computers so that it can filter spam and stuff. But that's something I'll work on once I get a distro installed and working, as I'll most likely be asking more questions about such gate way, but now all I'm worried about is getting a distro that will work on the 486 and support ISA network cards. I'll worry about software after.


Thanks in advance for the help! Sure I can go and try it myself, but I rather ask in hope that people have tried it so I don't end up burning CDs that I won't end up using for a long time (and will probably want a different distro/version by then).
 
Old 12-13-2003, 02:28 AM   #2
DaHammer
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My advice, Slackware. It defaults to the console, can be installed in as little 500mb (althought that's not very practicle, but the whole thing is only around 2mb w/X), the kernels are optimized for 486s by default, the ISOs come with all the tools you'll need to make the bootdisks, and the linux kernel has native support for most of the old ISA hardware. That being said, it's possible that once you get a base OS installed that you'll have to recompile a kernel to support some of your hardware. But Slackware comes with about 16 different kernels to choose from, as well as a config for each one so you can see what's there and what isn't, so there is a good chance that you won't need a custom kernel.

If you do go with Slackware, read the Slackware-HOWTO that's on the ISOs. Everything you'll need to know to get it up and running is in that doc.

As far as Mandrake goes, I'm almost positive that their kernel is optimized for a 586 out of the box, not sure about Debian. Of course if you really want to get cozy with it and have an existing Linux box to use a builder, then there is always Linux From Scratch.

BTW....I have Slackware 9.1 on an old 66mhz 486 w/24mb RAM & 1.5gb HD here and it runs great. Had intentions of making a firewall box out of it, but haven't gotten around to it.

Last edited by DaHammer; 12-13-2003 at 02:34 AM.
 
Old 12-13-2003, 02:39 AM   #3
burnpile
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Re: best distro...

Quote:
Originally posted by Red Squirrel
I have a 3GB hard drive in there but not sure how much the bios actually reconizes,
This may turn out to be a major stumbling block, leading to missing files and an unbootable system. That being said, I second the Slackware motion. I would however try to find out if your bios will support that particular hard drive.
 
Old 12-13-2003, 02:57 AM   #4
DaHammer
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Hmm, I must have mis-read that...hehe...Good catch, burnpile. Yeah, wouldn't that be a mess, there one minute gone the next..
 
Old 12-13-2003, 03:08 AM   #5
win32sux
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Re: best distro...

Quote:
Originally posted by Red Squirrel

I've been wanting to try debian or mandrake but I'm wondering if it "complies" to those needs. Also, it can't take up more then 2GB of space...
both debian and mandrake's installations may optionally be started from the floppy...

debian's footprint is WAY smaller than mandrake's, and debian will work on quite ancient hardware (as does slackware)...

debian floppy install:
http://www.debian.org/distrib/floppyinst

mandrake floppy install:
http://distro.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/...all.htm#floppy



i'd like to put my vote in for debian and slackware...

i think either debian 3.0 (woody) or slackware 9.1 would satisfy your needs thoroughly...
 
Old 12-13-2003, 06:24 AM   #6
tcaptain
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Just a note...I'm not sure mandrake will run on a 486. Its a pentium optimized distro.
 
Old 12-13-2003, 12:47 PM   #7
Red Squirrel
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I think I will go with slackware then. I just heard it is hard to install. What do they mean by it being hard? Do I need to compile stuff, change code and stuff, or is it just "hard" because there's more options and stuff?

For the hard drive, I should be ok because if it only detects 2GB of it, it just won't use the rest so I won't loose anything at bootup. I'm pretty sure it detects the whole thing though.
 
Old 12-13-2003, 01:28 PM   #8
tearinox
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if your used to dealing with computers, it shouldn't be that hard.

First, you need to use cfdisk to format some hard drive space in ext2 or some linux file system. I would suggest making two, you'll find out later why. ( more security, /home directory, etc)

Second, you need to make a swap partition (a swap partition is like memory except on your hard drive. Very slow, but if your out of physical memory, your computer wont crash if you have swap) I suggest making it about twice the size of your physical memory

Third, type setup and select your two target partitions and the first will be your root. The second, tell it to go in the directory of /home .

Fourth, it will format the partitions for you.

Fifth, It will ask you what packages you want to install (select newbie if your curious and want to spend 3 hours installing) but if you just want to get into linux right away, select full.

sixth, I think next is the configuration, set all those how you like except LILO is harder to explain. Make sure you pick expert for the install.

1) Select w/e size resolution you want.
2) Make a header file
3) Add a linux boot and select the root partitions ( / )
4) Add a windows boot and select /dev/hda1 (if windows was already on, this is where it should go.
5)install it on a floppy. This seems kind of funny, but it takes more research online to figure out how to install it with windows. Trying to keep it simple tho

Finally YOUR DONE!

Sorry if this is not accurate, but this is sort of what the install is like. Yes, its a lot harder than the mandrake install.


Mandrake is a good way to play with linux, I would suggest it since it will be easy to use. I used mandrake first to get an idea what linux was all about and really started my interest in linux.

Slackware is also very good, Its what i use today. It forced me to learn about linux because it makes you control your system (which means you need to know what your doing.) It was frustrating at first but in the long run good. Its

btw - before getting any linux BACK UP YOUR DATA!

good luck

Last edited by tearinox; 12-13-2003 at 01:30 PM.
 
Old 12-14-2003, 12:23 AM   #9
Red Squirrel
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Ok I tried installing, newbie install seems to be the only way to not install packages I'll never use such as the 20 different mp3 players - that computer does not even have a sound card anyway. But it's rediculous that it asks if I want to install each package while it's installing, instead of just checkmarks before like redhat.

Anyway to get it to install minimal in one shot? Only packages I need are apache, mysql and php, and I might want to play with stuff like spam assassin, but I rather download those anyway so I can learn (by asking more questions ) how to install/update stuff, and to get the latest versions.
 
  


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