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Old 02-29-2004, 07:20 PM   #1
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Linux and Apache on low end systems

Hi folks,

Was directed here from a yahoo message board.

I have a 200 mhz Pentium mmx with 64 meg of ram currently running win2k (slow, but usable). This is residing on a home network with two other machines, both with > 1ghz processors and 512 meg ram. (so it doesn't get used much)

I want to convert the slow machine to linux, and run an apache web server to host our family photo album (we have a big family).

I am really trying to get my feet wet with linux, with the final goal of converting all of my systems.

Questions are:

1) Is this plan practical?

2) If so, how? Please let me know what distribution you would recommend, and what steps to take to allow it to run apache with reasonable performance on such a low end system.

While I am a linux newbie, I am reasonably experienced with computers, having owned at least one system since 1982.

Thanks in advance,

Old 02-29-2004, 07:29 PM   #2
TBC Cosmo
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: NY
Distribution: Fedora 10, CentOS 5.4, Debian 5 Sparc64
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The distro I would choose is Debian with no GUI. It would do fine for a family album web page on that hardware and there are some good tools out there to generate the html for your photo album. Search freshmeat and sourceforge for "album" Setting up Apache in Debian is not hard. Debian has a reputation for being difficult, and it is fairly tough to get going with it. But once it's installed, it is very easy to keep updated.
Old 02-29-2004, 07:35 PM   #3
Registered: Feb 2004
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Distribution: Debian
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Depends on the load, if it's just for personal use no problem. I've done it with less, but more memory would be nice. I personally wouldn't install X(not enough memory), IMHO it would be way too slow. So be ready to configure the old fashioned way! If you up to editing config files by hand and the command line doesn't scare you then go for it. Might as well use Slackware, I just recently converted and don't know why I waited so long.
Old 02-29-2004, 07:51 PM   #4
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running linux and apache on a small system shouldn't be a problem. but the system will be very slow when u start using xwindows (graphical login).

For newbies i recommend Suse or redhat, both are made user friendly (when u use the graphical login).

i recommend that u do a normal installation (including xwindows), to make it as simple as possible to administrate the system. when u want a fast system after administration, then switch to a text console (ctrl+alt+f1), login and disable the graphical login with "init [number]". the number depends on the distribution, look in the documentation for init and runlevel.
Old 02-29-2004, 10:13 PM   #5
Registered: Jan 2004
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The quick and nasty:[list=1][*]Don't use X.[*]Install the bare minimum needed to meet your requirments[*]Don't do the above if you want to use the computer for more than just a web server[/list=1]
Old 02-29-2004, 11:17 PM   #6
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Registered: Jan 2003
Location: Illinois (Chicago area)
Distribution: Red Hat (8.0, RHEL5,6), CentOS, SuSE (10.x, 11.x, 12.2, 13.2), Solaris (8-10), Tru64, MacOS, Raspian
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I have used a similar system as a general purpose Linux system and have experienced no problems. I have a firewall using the same CPU but more memory. It works just fine. Bottom line: for a light duty system that configuration should work fine. Especially if you turn off all the services that aren't absolutely necessary. (If I were doing this, I'd be looking for older systems that companies are tossing out and cannibalizing them for their memory. :-) )

Just about any distribution would be suitable for this. I suspect that all of the major distributions will handle all of the hardware in a system of the vintage you're wanting to use. Be careful on what you install though. Some will almost insist on installing a lot of things you may never need. And I'd be careful with letting the installer load X windows. It's not a great performer on a system that old though it can be used. It's just slow. You might load it with the idea of using it only accessing the GUI versions of the system management tools. If you do, I'd configure the X server to use a fairly low resolution like 640x480 or 800x600 because of your limited memory. Besides, managing the system with a GUI doesn't exactly require 1600x1200. Even those lower resolutions may be a burden especially if you don't have an accelerated graphics card (though you can employ a few tricks like not using desktop animations and/or showing window contents during movement to work around the relatively slow speed of the system). If you do install X, I would set the system to start the system in init level 3 (no GUI). No sense eating up resources with X unless you really need it and entering ``startx'' at the console prompt isn't that hard.

Another thing to watch out for if you decide to load X is the disk space requirements (you never mentioned how much disk space was available on this system). Selecting X during the install will often automatically select more software for installation than you ever thought existed. Getting that list of dependent packages properly tailored down can be a real chore. Probably best to add it later if you think it's really needed.

One last thing about X: many of the newer distributions pretty much assume that you want to run it. Don't surprised if it gets installed without your asking for it explicitly.

As for the Apache setup: when you're setting up the httpd.conf file to define the settings for Apache, look for the section that defines the number of min/max number of spare http servers to run. You'll probably want to keep this number down to no more than one or two at first. That 64MB won't last long if you start up a whole slew of them. The rest of the set up needed to configure Apache is fairly self-explanatory. If not, well, you know where to ask. :-)

Hope some of this helps.

Have fun,

Old 03-01-2004, 01:16 AM   #7
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Thanks for the interest folks - and I would appreciate any more suggestions from anyone who reads the threads.

Am downloading slackware as I type - will probably get debian too. have already installed RH 8 a number of months ago, and fiddled with it for a while, but that was on a MUCH more capable system. Still have the ISO's, but I am looking to gain experiance with more distros

The system in question has a 30 gb hard disk. Never mentioned it because I didn't think it would be an issue. Unfortunately, memory is no longer expandable. (upgraded the system as far as it would go about three years ago)

This has all been a great help, and I am looking forward to having lots of fun.


Old 03-01-2004, 03:29 AM   #8
Registered: Dec 2003
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If I was you I would use RedHat 9. Its the best distro IMO =). Also, dont use the X-server. Too much mem loss =P.
Old 03-02-2004, 11:49 AM   #9
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I installed RH 9 on my POS 166 MHz with 128 MB and 20 GB hard drive. I also have a family/friend website created with PHP-Nuke and it runs fairly well. For my gallery I use this Gallery it's easy to install and runs fine.

Good luck with your install and have fun!

Old 03-02-2004, 01:14 PM   #10
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another possibility is to install X-windows on the machine (but not any GUI's such as KDE or GNOME). Then put Cygwin, Cygwin-X, and KDE for Cygwin on a Windows machine. If you have KDE running on one machine, you can tunnel the X11 commands through a SSH connection. End result, you can use what ever graphical edit/setup tools you want remotely, and the memory foot print of the window manager is handled by another machine (the server I run at work is in a closet with a power cord and a network cable ). You can even run entire KDE sessions over SSH, but performace would be the same as sitting in front of it.

Red Hat has some nice configuration tools built into their GUI, but some of them do not play well with changing the configs by hand (network mostly).

Chris Van Brederode
Old 03-02-2004, 01:43 PM   #11
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here's what to do: install debian or slackware with no X, then ssh into the server with puTTY, the windows ssh client (i'm assuming your other boxes on the network are windows machines). you can learn linux and do everything from your windows machines through the puTTY ssh terminal. install an FTP server on the box like proFTPd, and that will make it even easier for you to transfer files using a GUI ftp client.

edit: p.s., just noticed you have a 30gb hard drive, so it really doesn't matter if you install X. just set your default run level not to run it. and make sure you install ssh. gl

Last edited by synaptical; 03-02-2004 at 01:50 PM.
Old 03-02-2004, 05:44 PM   #12
Registered: Jan 2004
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well even if with X it will be 2 slow u might as well configure it not 2 go to X on boot .. couldnt u u dont need X to run a service which is httpd ...
Old 03-02-2004, 06:12 PM   #13
Registered: Feb 2004
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With a machine that slow, you should get rid of it. Don't bother making a webserver with such a slow machine. It's recommended that you use 350mhz or more with 192mbs of Ram or more. I strongly recommend 450mhz or more and 256mbs of Ram or more.


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