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Old 06-28-2004, 03:46 PM   #1
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mini linux distributions

Okay, I have RedHat9 loaded on my big machine, and am slugging away at getting familiar with Linux. I also have an old Compaq desktop, 233MMX, 196megs of RAM, and a 2.5 gig hard drive I'd like to load up with a small distribution of linux. So far, I've had little luck locating one.

There's DamSmall, Peanut, Suse9 Live, and one or two others, but they don't really lend themselves to a hard drive home. Over the weekend, I installed Bonzai and got it up and running, only to find it lacked practically everything it needed to be useful, so far as upgrades and additions are concerned. It's a little like if you were to buy a new econo automobile and take delivery only to find that, yes, it has as engine and transmission, and even suspension, but it would be nice to have a windshield and maybe some seats would be good, too.

So, although Bonzai is good enough to point the way to the Debian site to get all those goodies that make life worth living, the bottom line is, if I were to go there and get these things, I'd be in the same position I was in when I had RedHat9 loaded--too little disc space to do much of anything except surf the net and send some email and play a few mindless games.

Is anyone aware of a small version of linux that is truly standalone and capable? I wonder if an older Slackware or something like that might work? Anyway, I'd appreciate any input from people more aware than I am (which is practically everyone, so far as I can see).
Old 06-28-2004, 03:55 PM   #2
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With that much RAM you can easily give a Slack8.1 a go.

I had 8.1 running (including X 4) on a P166/96MB...

Open Office was a pain in the neck to load, but other than that
it performed very well.

Old 06-28-2004, 04:12 PM   #3
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I have an old Gateway computer with a 750 MHz AMD Athlon, 64 MB of RAM, and a 3.5 GB hard drive, and a really old nVidia Vanta LT 8 MB video card, and it runs Slackware 9.1 perfectly, including XFree86. I know that the maximum installation size of Slackware 9.1 is somewhere just over 2 GB, and you can get it smaller than that by eliminating the extraneous packages you don't want. That's the only small distribution I'm familiar with, but if you don't like Slack you can go to and click on the distributions button on the left. Then you can search for any "minimalist" distributions that are available (tried this earlier and got 82 hits).
Old 06-28-2004, 04:27 PM   #4
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With that HUGE amount of RAM, and that relatively fast processor, I don't see any reason you should restrict yourself to "small" distributions. I'd go with Knoppix, although it's a tight fit on a 2.5gig drive. A slightly smaller Knoppix variant would be good, like ClusterKnoppix.

Another alternative is to go with a Knoppix "poor man's" install. This puts an image of the CD on the hard drive, and boots off of that like a LiveCD. The disadvantage is that loading applications is somewhat slower due to decompressing the files in realtime, and that you can't install new software. The advantage is that because the CD image is compressed, you get 2.2 gigs of software for only 700megs of disc space.

Personally, I'd be looking into scrounging up a larger hard drive, since you desire more than just the basic applications.
Old 06-28-2004, 09:19 PM   #5
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I was looking for a small Linux to put on an old toshiba laptop with only a 780 mb HD and only a floppy drive, and someone sugguested "Libranet" . Its a Debian distro I believe, and can actually be compressed onto 3 floppy disked. I tried the CD version on an old compaq desktop 500 mh machine and it seemed to do OK.
Old 06-28-2004, 09:51 PM   #6
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old Compaq desktop, 233MMX, 196megs of RAM, and a 2.5 gig hard drive
Although the processor is not that fast, the main problem with those specs is the hard drive. A useful default Linux installation can easily take up 1.5 - 2.0 GB, or more. Taking the time to manually select packages with an eye to leaving the kitchen sink out would work with most any new distro.
Was it Mandrake that had the slide rule that let you blindly select a size for the install and it chose the software for you? Maybe you would want to do that.
I think Vector Linux and Peanut Linux are the better small/light distros.

For instance, check out the
system requirements for Suse 9.1 Personal, which has one install CD and can be downloaded for free.

Last edited by 2damncommon; 06-28-2004 at 09:56 PM.


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