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crypticlogic 12-12-2007 11:53 PM

which distro is best for my system?
O.k I just booted myself back to remedial Linux! lol I have used linux for a couple of years now and on several machines. I have tried Red Hat,Damn Small,PclinuxOS,Tinyme,Puppy,and several others I can't remember now. I had systems loaded on a IBM thinkpad 785, Compaq, and other low end laptops. I also have run several 266 to 400 mhz desktop without problems and faster than most modern system running winblows XP. I am familiar with using bash scripting,xorg config,and general linux admin jobs. I have even used blender3D with some success on system with extremely low resources by todays standards. Thats why I am completely flabergasted and disappointed with myself on my latest system. You see I am not a rich person by any means. Every system I have has always had low memory(i.e 128mb or lower) My latest system is a HP Pavilion 7960 1300mhz proc, 128 Rambus pc600(yuck!)Riva TNT 64m from Nvidia and a DVD-burner. Yes your standard throw away system. There is only one thing that I can't get, Why does a P4 1300mhz system run way slower than a P2 266mhz? It feels like a go cart running with a porche engine trying to outrun a Pinto fitted with a john deer lawn mower engine lol I mean really, what am I missing here? I have ran hdparm with the correct setting for my hard drives. I have enable dma for all drives as well as updated the Nvidia proprietary drivers. I have look this thing over twice and still can't get better performance than a 486 chocking on a win95 intall. Even Bash takes a while to load. The system monitoring software puts the cpu loads at 30% what gives? Am I completely retarded and missed something vital?(which I probably have as I have dumb myself down by helping my roommates with there WinXP problems on a new x64 duo core. man I wish I had that setup) Thanks for reading this and allowing me to vent some frustrations out. :) also any suggestion on whats the best moving I could make is greatly appreciated. No system should be this slow,it could very well be a failing memory stick(god I hope not as rambus for this motherboard is way overpriced)

shadowsnipes 12-13-2007 01:55 AM

Your system could very well be slow due to failing hardware. What OS are you running on it currently? If you are still thinking of trying a new distro on it try Slackware. It runs really well on old hardware and is a very flexible, stable, and fast system.

Are you sure the hard drive doesn't have bad sectors?

nirjharoberoi 12-13-2007 02:49 AM

Well.. Slackware is a good option.. but I think if you want the latest OS with a promising kernel and it should support you're hardware.. then you can go in for Kubuntu 7.10. great distro for legacy systems...

MoonMind 12-13-2007 03:00 AM

How much actual RAM's on the "new" machine? The VC seems to be sharing, and given your statement that you're normally using little RAM, I suspect RAM/swap trouble - if the system installed okay but doesn't run well, this is (apart from more serious problems as shadowsnipes indicated) a common reason. But the system's should be very well suited for any modern distro (though I have to disagree that Kubuntu should work particularily well on old hardware - it's a fully blown distro with KDE; there's lots of more efficient ones out there!).

Let's put it like that: If you're RAM is 256MB or less and you can't throttle the VC, I'd say it's RAM/swap (if you're in swap hell, the system really reacts sloppy - I've switched from GNOME to Fluxbox on one of my really old machines with Debian, and now it hardly ever uses swap and runs like a charm; before the switch, it certainly looked nice, but opening more than one application made practically froze it).

Recommendations? I always suggest Debian based distros (and occasionally Puppy or even DeLi if the machine in question is really old and low on resources); Debian itself is very versatile, but for general purpose systems Ubuntu is a bit better suited due to a clear focus on desktop functionality. If you want a (slightly) more efficient variety, chose Xubuntu; there's also Fluxbuntu, but it's not an official *buntu breed. DSL is very slick, but it's also a bit peculiar if you want a fully blown desktop system (there are modules to achieve this). Something new and refreshingly different: shiftlinux is a recent project, but offers (among others) a Fluxbox version which is quite complete and nifty. The last tip: Try out Debris Linux - caveat: I'm part of the team there, so I'm certainly biased, but we're closing in on the final release right now, and the system's already versatile and installs well (BeaFanatIX (the former project) is dated, but still does a good job on old hardware).


shadowsnipes 12-13-2007 03:07 AM


Originally Posted by nirjharoberoi (Post 2989110)
Well.. Slackware is a good option.. but I think if you want the latest OS with a promising kernel and it should support you're hardware.. then you can go in for Kubuntu 7.10. great distro for legacy systems...

You make it sound like Slackware is a dated OS with an unpromising kernel which is very untrue.

I believe both would support old hardware well. However, in my experience Ubuntu (and variants) are heavier on resources than stock Slackware. The main reason is simple. Ubuntu is aimed at users who want more GUI tools, etc to make system administration easier. Slackware requires you to do some things the old fashioned way. It is really a matter of preference and what you are comfortable with using.

If you want something similar to Ubuntu I would not recommend Kubuntu, but something like Fluxbuntu or Xubuntu as they use less resources. Xubuntu uses Xfce which is a very nice desktop environment. Slackware has Xfce, too, btw (in addition to KDE and others).

MoonMind 12-13-2007 04:12 AM


I agree - mostly. In fact, systems like Slackware and Debian tend to be a lot more efficient than the desktop oriented ones like Ubuntu; that's why I always prefer Debian over Ubuntu if I'm not aiming for a office system. The only systems that are even more efficient are those dedicated to that purpose: DSL, Puppy and, less obviously, BeatrIX (now obsolete), BeaFanatIX (now dated) and Debris (freshly established). You could also go for something based on Slackware, like Zenwalk (which I consider to be a lot more useful than Xubuntu) or Vector.

The only real reason why I prefer Debian (based) is package management. But I admire Slackware for its approach on system design overall - it's (almost) bound to make a slick and efficient system. In my view however, Debian can do more or less the same thing, but is a little bit better equipped when it comes to package management.

Why don't people go for the well established distros as much as they used to do? Let's face it: Most of the "old fashioned" distributions tend to lack obvious sex appeal and what often is called "ease of use". In the eyes of a more experienced user, this may seem ridiculous (is there anything easier than a nifty little script to do complicated tasks in one go, maybe even using cron to do them recularily?), but it appears that most people can't (or don't) distinguish between eye candy and usefulness. If you really want to work with a system, all those bells and whistles are almost bound to stand in your way, but that doesn't bother people - they go for twinkle instead of shine. Most of what Ubuntu offers over Debian doesn't help much in everyday use, especially if you're not limiting yourself to office work - yet it looks good and makes some things that could use some consideration no-brainers alright... If we accept that it should "just work", this may be a good thing (if anything doesn't, it isn't). If we think things should be understood in order to be made working, we're onto something completely different.

So, for the question at hand, I'd go for something "small" and "rounded" instead of "all purpose" and "flexible"...


shadowsnipes 12-13-2007 12:56 PM


Originally Posted by MoonMind (Post 2989158)
The only real reason why I prefer Debian (based) is package management. But I admire Slackware for its approach on system design overall - it's (almost) bound to make a slick and efficient system. In my view however, Debian can do more or less the same thing, but is a little bit better equipped when it comes to package management.

So, for the question at hand, I'd go for something "small" and "rounded" instead of "all purpose" and "flexible"...

But you see Slackware can be "small" and "rounded" while being "all purpose" and "flexible".

I like your statement that most people don't distinguish between "eye candy "and "ease of use". This is very true since "ease of use" is a relative term.

Speaking on that, this applies to package managers. It is true that Slackware has a very simple package manager. Slackware users feel we don't need automatic dependency checking, so we don't use it. The package format is brilliantly simple and is simply a gzipped tar archive of the files. Overall, Slackware (and many variants like Vector and Zenwalk) follow the KISS principle for the OS.

If you want an OS that does auto-dependency checking then Slackware is definitely not for you (which is why I mentioned Xubuntu instead of Zenwalk- I was giving an example that was non-slackware-like). But, if you like Slackware's KISS BSD style and want something similar that DOES have auto-dependency checking then Arch Linux would be a great one to try. The opposite end of the spectrum would be Ubuntu with Debian towards the lower-middle.

I don't know where the OP is at with how comfortable they are with linux and what their preferences are, so it's hard to give advice that is spot on.

If I were crypticlogic I would first check out my hardware. Run the ultimate boot cd and check the hard drive, ram, etc. I seriously doubt that is has no problems given the OP. That's assuming of course something wasn't wrong with the way the OS was set up.

After I have hardware that works properly I would decide what I need such as my requirements for package management. I imagine, based upon the specs of the machine (assuming it isn't currently working properly), that using a WM as light as fluxbox probably wouldn't be necessary, but if you prefer something even like ratpoison then great. Xfce or a stripped down KDE/GNOME should work fine. From there, pick a distro that fits other needs. You like having one app per function and a KISS OS? Then Zenwalk. You want to do everything in a GUI and avoid the CL as much as possible, then Ubuntu-based distro is for you. And so on...

teddyt 12-13-2007 02:51 PM

Just want to throw out one more lightweight distro: AntiX. It uses only 22M of RAM on my machine upon booting. It has the advantage of being built on Mepis and being able to access the Debian repos.

This allows you to have easy access to everything in a full-blown distro, but without the bloat. It uses fewer resources than Fluxbuntu, for instance.

LinuxCrayon 12-14-2007 01:13 AM

Have you checked the HCL? A lot of people neglect checking the HCL for some reason...

hottdogg 12-14-2007 01:25 AM


Hi guys!

currently i'm using slackware 12.0 for my old pc:
pIII slot1 450mhz,256mb ram, graphic tnt2 32mb,

It's slow,even running xfce 4 like i'm running now.
For day-to-day task, it always uses the swap significantly
my pc are just not up to par firefox 2, openoffice 2
So, i'm thinking about migrating to old hardware friendly linux distro that's quite up-to-date at least doesn't have problem with usb, modest gui, vanilla kernel friendly (like slackware! yay! lol ) and has some community to support. Don't want an old-hardware-friendly-but-obscure-linux distro either.

Any distro suggestion? better from 1st-hand experience comments. :)

shadowsnipes 12-14-2007 01:42 AM

That's weird that Slackware runs slow on your machine. I run Slackware 11 on an old IBM TP 600E (PII 400MHz w/ 288MB Ram) under Xfce and I don't use swap unless I am using a LOT of programs at once. I have a custom built kernel, though, and that does help quite a bit. What kernel are you using for Slackware 12 (hopefully not the huge one)? Using Fluxbox instead of Xfce would probably help you.

hottdogg 12-14-2007 08:23 AM


$uname -r

i hope that's not the huge one.
i didn't intall fluxbox, i thought xfce would be sufficient,apparently

for example:
currently I open konqueror opening 6 tabs (firefox will be worse ) and 1 xterminal.
here what i got

            total      used      free    shared    buffers    cached
Mem:        250856    236460      14396          0      4256      66116
-/+ buffers/cache:    166088      84768
Swap:      610460      17252    593208

i know there are some threads regarding slackware and slow machine
or maybe i should post this in new thread, but this is just fyi.
Still waiting for suggestions... :D

i'm interested in zenwalk, any comments from zenwalk user?

shadowsnipes 12-14-2007 11:05 AM


Originally Posted by hottdogg (Post 2990434)

$uname -r

i hope that's not the huge one.

That just tells me you are using the default Slackware 12 kernel version and that it is not smp. To tell if it is the huge kernel check in /etc/lilo.conf to see what you booted into. Most likely it will be vmlinuz which is a symbolic link pointed to a real kernel image (most likely the huge kernel unless you have changed it).


Originally Posted by hottdogg (Post 2990434)
i didn't intall fluxbox, i thought xfce would be sufficient,apparently

It should be installed unless you deselected it during the installation of you system.


Originally Posted by hottdogg (Post 2990434)
i'm interested in zenwalk, any comments from zenwalk user?

I have used it on my laptop (the old one I described earlier) but I did not notice any significant improvements over Slackware. Also, even though I think the idea of one app per use can be a good idea, Zenwalk doesn't always pick the right app for me. I will say that if you plan on using Xfce that they have all the plugins and everything that are missing from Slackware's Xfce. Another Slack-like alternative is VectorLinux and even though I have not personally used it I have heard that it works well on older hardware. I've heard the same about Arch Linux. Whatever distro you choose, since you are running an old machine that (to me) does not seem to be fulfilling it full potential, you should compile a custom kernel for it.

phantom_cyph 12-14-2007 11:18 AM

Pick a number between 1 and 486, and it'll probably work.

bejiita 12-14-2007 03:31 PM

two words..... Gentoo

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