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Old 02-12-2012, 12:20 PM   #1
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Smile Linux on P1, 32mb RAM. Still practical?

I've got an old Toshiba Satellite Pro 465CDX with a Pentium 166MMX, 32 mb EDO RAM, 2 gigabyte hard drive, a 4x CD-ROM drive, 2 PCMCIA type 2 slots, and a single USB 1.0 port. I have no interest in changing out/upgrading any hardware and I am not a coder by any stretch of the imagination. I suppose my interest is just to see how modern a machine I can set up from such old hardware and to keep it functional as long as possible for nostalgia's sake. I've been hoping to install FreeDOS 1.1 (which loads and runs fine on a 500 mb FAT32 partition) and a lightweight Linux distribution on a dual boot to the 2gb HDD. I've tried several lightweight installs but haven't been successful in getting a GUI based Linux install running either as a primary or as a secondary booting OS. I'm hoping to get the benefit of others' experience in this direction so I can stop going in so many directions on this project.

Damn Small Linux runs great from a LiveCD, and I've gotten it to install to the HDD (after using cfdisk to create a ext2 and swap file partition manually ahead of the installation) but I'm losing interest in what is essentially a dead OS. DSL hasn't been updated since version 4.4.10 in Nov 2008 but it seems to be the only lightweight GUI based Linux that works well with just 32 mb RAM. DSL's app browser is misdirected to an old repository and now seems useless. I'm sure there's a way to remap to the updated repository but I have no idea how to do that and the DSL forums are long dead. It's truly a shame it hasn't been developed further since it's begrudging successor (TinyCore) seems to have gone in a completely different direction.

Feather Linux is in a similar (to DSL) not-currently-developed state but will at least boot. For the difference, I'd rather run DSL. Tiny Core 4.2.1 won't even boot to the Live CD without 42 mb of RAM according to documentation (no idea in what weird configuration THAT'S even possible, an old machine with shared video RAM?) and will only boot to a command line. MicroCore is designed to only boot to a command line, so I'm not considering it. DeLi Linux .8 will go through the motions of loading but will never boot to a GUI either as a secondary OR as a primary OS. DeLi's continuation, ConnochaetOS .9 will not even boot to a LiveCD on this rig, seemingly due to it only having 512k of video RAM. Both of these installs are over two years old as well. Slitaz 3.0, I have read, is capable of running on a machine with these specs, but it won't boot to a LiveCD either so I stopped pursuing trying to install it. Slackware seems a bit over my head. I've done an installation in VirtualBox trying to mimic the Toshiba before I blow away DSL but it doesn't seem to be as easy to get it to fit on the limited space of the 2 gb hard drive, especially with 500 carved out for FreeDOS.

Are there other GUI based Linux installs that are still being maintained that could be run on this rig, particularly in a dual-boot fashion with GRUB? Yes, I know I'm lame for not wanting to delve into the UNIX command line for everything, but I should at least get some cred for running FreeDOS on the other partition, right? ;-)
Old 02-12-2012, 01:59 PM   #2
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Here is the search page, searching for:
OS Linux
Category Old computers
Status Active

Scroll down to the listing of current distros that fit those criteria.
Old 02-12-2012, 02:00 PM   #3
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I did a quick search various distributions and it does look like Damn Small Linux might be the best bet. It is, however, unfortunate that it is dormant these days ...

---------- Post added 02-12-12 at 01:01 PM ----------

Actually, I had just looked (almost) completely at the list above ...
Old 02-12-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
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SliTaz perhpaps (it is even smaller than DSL )
Old 02-12-2012, 04:13 PM   #5
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Slitaz should run with 16MB of RAM, but you can't do that with the normal Live-CD, you need the lowram-cdrom-iso for it.
Old 02-12-2012, 06:14 PM   #6
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The older free version of QNX would run on that. I think the original BeOS will.

Neither one of those are linux.
Old 02-23-2012, 01:02 PM   #7
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"slitaz-loram-cdrom and Tiny Memory Systems

The boot command line is usually:
boot: slitaz args...

Slitaz boots on a 9MB RAM system with the boot command:
boot: loram single root=/dev/hdc

Where /dev/hdc is the CD-ROM device, the loram boot entry avoids RAM disk creation and CD-ROM detection.

Note that on a system with such a low amount of memory, the first thing to do is add swap!

You need 10MB to use the boot scripts with:
boot: loram root=/dev/hdc

In this case you can add arguments like kmap=, config=, etc."

I am thinking about trying to dual boot this on my Win95 laptop with 24 megs of ram.

@jefro This thread got me to thinking about Beos so I fired up a WinME tower I hadn't used in years, broke out a floppy and fired up Beos 5 Personal Edition. I couldn't find my QNX-on-a-floppy but I still have it on a bootable CD. Fun.

"And what to do with only 8MB RAM?

Try Tiny Slitaz : !"

Last edited by mjolnir; 02-23-2012 at 01:10 PM.


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