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I am playing around with Puppy Linux Wary 5.3 on an old machine (Pentium PII, 160 megs RAM, 6 gig HD). I did an install on the HD. I appreciate it's light footprint, the fact that it plays nice with the graphics card (Slacko Puppy and Precise did not) but am dismayed that it is very unlike Unix. No passwords (even when I set one up for root it still logs in automatically), no man pages (it actually tries to open a web-browser with google, the machine BTW is not networked) and most of the command line Unix user-land seems to be MIA.
I guess I can slowly configure it to my liking, but this would likely take a lot of time and this is certainly not my primary machine. I am wondering if there is a variant already set up which feels and behaves in a more traditional Unix style, with greater emphasis on the command line and less on the graphical side. I intend to use it mainly from the command line. Should I stick with Puppy and configure it or go for a minimal/ lightweight install of Slackware or possibly one of the BSDs that I would use mostly from the command line.
Kind of hard to say. It could be possible to do most of that in some version of Pup.
I might be tempted to try some of the other "made for older hardware" distro's. You are kind of at the limit of usability for a window manager. If you want you can use many other distro's in text mode. There are only a handful of distros that would be for that system. Each gives up something.
Additionally, life is full of compromises. You want a linux that will run well on extremely outdated hardware. Do you also want a linux that will run well on extremely outdated hardware with security "best practices" in a mission-critical multi-user environment?
I had tried to do a frugal install of Slacko on an old compaq laptop with 150 megs of ram.
I set up a swap partition and I still had major problems with the pupsave file getting corrupted as to applications failing to run and desktop icons going generic on me.
If I boot with pfix=ram, everything works.
It looks like that laptop is on it's last legs as it no longer can accesss the CD drive with a "Drive not Ready" error and also same for the floppy drive.
USB still works. But version 1.1 is a lost cause.
I would recommend doing a full install with a swap partition as I think it would be better for a low memory PC.
It is just that one can run Win XP with 64 megs of ram abet slowly.
But a Frugal install of Puppy is actually to a ram disk type of setup with apps and memory goes fast.