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Old 09-20-2006, 02:05 PM   #1
Registered: Oct 2003
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Which version for a PII 333, 128ram


I am going to install a version of slackware on the aboved mention computer as a server for a client of mine. They would like to be able to use an x-window of some sort to add users, etc.
My question is which version of slackware would be best suited for this limited power computer.

Old 09-20-2006, 02:14 PM   #2
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Just my 2 cents, but as I see it, the sweet spot for matching a distro version to a given machine is to select the version that was released 18 to 36 months after the machine was manufactured. Sooner than that and your machine may include hardware that isn't well supported, and later than that and the release may require significantly greater resources than your machine has. Good luck with it.

Of course, you can always take the incremental approach and install the current release to see how it performs, and if it doesn't work out, go to the next-earlier version. Repeat as needed until you have satisfactory performance.

Regardless, it's important to note that on older machines, the video card is frequently the limiting factor. Newer versions of KDE, etc, require much greater resources than older versions (thus my initial recommendation to use the PC's manufacture date as a rough guide)

Last edited by J.W.; 09-20-2006 at 02:18 PM.
Old 09-20-2006, 02:15 PM   #3
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when you are making it a server, you wouldnt want it(os) to be something pretty old which could have alot of security holes, compatibility issues etc. go for the latest version, if slackware doesnt support it you could try using FreeBSD.
Old 09-20-2006, 02:51 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Canada
Distribution: Mint, Debian, Ubuntu Server
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JW - any idea what version was out around 1998, I think this is when the machine was first bought.
Old 09-20-2006, 04:29 PM   #5
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I use older boxes to run Slackware 10.2 and KDE 3.4.3.

Box 1 uses a 400 MHz K6-III+ CPU (originally a 233 MHz Pentium MMX) with a FSB of 66 MHz. Box 2 uses a 350 MHz Pentium II Deschutes with a FSB of 100 MHz. Both boxes contain 256 MB of RAM and Seagate Barracuda IV 40 GB hard drives with fluid dynamic bearings (silent). The video card in Box 1 is an old Diamond Stealth 3000 3D with 4 MB of RAM. Box 2 uses a Creative Labs 3Dfx Blaster Banshee AGP video card with 16 MB SGRAM.

As you can see I use some real power house hardware!

Despite all the myths and propaganda you might have read around the web, KDE responds very well on both boxes, and just a wee bit faster on box 2 because of the AGP card. Neither box is a fast as my NT4 Workstation OS, but the difference is slight and not worth raising a stink.

When Slackware 11. 0 is official I will find the time to update, including KDE to 3.5.4, which by all reports I have read is slightly faster than the previous 3.4.x versions.

Coincidentally, a few days ago, out of sheer curiosity, I wondered how little RAM I could use to run my current installation of Slackware. I temporarily added a kernel parameter to my boot loader menu (I use grub), and modified the existing memory to simulate 16 MB (kernel parameter: mem=16m). Slackware booted fine and just as fast as always. I then tempted fate and started X/KDE. Took much longer to load, and opening apps took a long time, but by golly, everything still ran.

Based upon my experience, your hardware will run Slackware 10.2/11.0 just fine. Probably will run KDE just fine too, although I recommend bumping the RAM to 256 MB if your client intends to keep X/KDE running all the time. You did not specify the video card you use, but as you see from my boxes, even an early generation 3D video card with only 4 MB of RAM will serve well. You are in better shape if you have AGP in that PII box as I do with my PII box.

KDE will run on your hardware with the current version of Slackware. Don't worry about running older versions of Slackware, although sometimes that is a good strategy for some people.

As your clients want some basic GUI tools to configure and maintain the box, KDE provides many of those tools. kuser is easier on the inexperienced computer person to maintain user accounts than the command line. On the other hand, if the client wants a server that does not need to dedicate resources to X, learning a handful of useful command line commands will serve them well. If all your client needs to do is configure users, the Slackware version of adduser is a script that tries to walk people through the necessary elements.

Slackware is amazingly fast on both of my boxes when I am not using X/KDE. Yet, if your customer is totally command line resistant, then install KDE and provide them a simple instruction card that explains how to log in at a command line, type startx, to run X/KDE and so they can use apps like kuser. Then on the back of the card provide instructions to exit X/KDE, so the box need not waste resources. The GUI person will appreciate you adding the logout button to the Kicker task bar so they need not remember "horrific" operations like pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del to pop-up the KDE exit dialog box.

Of course, you can install other GUI desktops, but I cannot speak with any certainty of the various apps and tools that will be supplied. KDE does provide a lot of those tools.

BTW, regardless of the GUI you install for your client, do download a copy of the FreeType package that has the ByteCode Interpreter enabled. IIRC, Alien Bob provides such an updated package at his wiki. The stock Slackware does not do this , but adding this modified package dramatically improves font displays. You can find the core MS True Type fonts on the web and for a server those fonts will be sufficient for those needs.

Also be sure to manually enable DMA on your hard drives, if the drive does not auto-configure itself to provide that (use hdparm in /etc/rc.d/rc.local).

I hope this helps!
Old 09-20-2006, 05:46 PM   #6
Registered: May 2004
Location: South Carolina
Distribution: Slackware 11.0
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233mhz is FINE for running Xorg 6.9, and 128MB of ram is also FINE too. However, they are certainly not enough to run KDE or Gnome, especially the CPU.

64mb+ is really all that you need to run Slackware 10.2 with a 2.4 kernel and x11, as long as you use something lightweight, such as IceWM or aewm. I can run my 64MB machine quite well. I actually recommend either Windowmaker(very easy and pleasant to use, but a few hundred K larger than icewm) or Icewm(very light, but harder for some users).
Old 09-20-2006, 06:41 PM   #7
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Old 09-21-2006, 01:30 AM   #8
Registered: Oct 2003
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Distribution: Slackware 13.37 current
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I have a PII 266 256MB running 11.0rc with 2.6.17.
KDE is slow, but XFCE is OK.

Putting in a modern harddisk is worthwhile, the original drive was probably only ~3MB/s transfer rate.
Old 09-21-2006, 12:05 PM   #9
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yup 3.5.4 was better for my p2 and amd/k6/300 much faster, i still stripped down the eye candy, it's much better
Old 09-21-2006, 12:41 PM   #10
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FWIW, yesterday I simulated 128MB of RAM in my K6-III+ box. I would have preferred to conduct the test in my PII box, but that box is down right now. However, my K6-III+ box contains the older and less powerful video card.

I ran KDE 3.4.3 with no problems and noticed no performance drop from my regular 256MB operation. I opened more than a half dozen apps that I figured a system administrator might open and eventually I did notice some slow down. But for the OP, the reality is that if your client is not computer savvy, they most likely would approach the server from a single-tasking perspective. In other words, they likely would open kuser, modify user accounts, close kuser. Then perhaps open the KDE Info Center. They would be unlikely to open 6 or more apps concurrently and thus, should be just fine with KDE on that PII hardware.

Of course, there are other variables that easily modify the question: primarily hard drive and video card specs. But even if they start X/KDE only occasionally, they should be just fine.

I've been running KDE on my old boxes for a few years now and I am content. I am not advocating KDE in a hard sell, but from the very basic description provided by the OP, KDE would be best for typical computer users wanting a dedicated server.

Old_Fogie mentioned stripping all the eye candy. I should have mentioned that I have done this on my KDE installation too. I have mini how-to about the topic here, although I do need to revise that document with respect to the specifics of reducing eye candy.

I hope this helps the OP.
Old 09-21-2006, 12:45 PM   #11
Registered: Feb 2006
Location: Oldsmar, Fl. USA
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I have two machines that are similar to the specs you mention and I would say that the decision rests on what you're doing with said machine. On my laptop (a toshiba that was made in 1999, w/ a pII 400 and 128MB RAM I run Slackware 10.2 Xorg 6.8.2 and a custom build of Xfce 3.18.6) because I need a newer X to run my cheesy video card and I need ndiswrapper for the wireless. On my small desktop (AMD K6-2 333 w/ 224MB RAM and an old S3 video) I run a fairly stock Slackware 8.1 w/ Xfce 3.18.6. As you can probably tell I like Xfce. It's light, and I do most of my work from the terminal. (I like RXVT for that.)
Old 09-21-2006, 02:03 PM   #12
Registered: Feb 2005
Location: Denver, CO
Distribution: Slack 12, tweaked just so (though I'm also a fan of Ubuntu)
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My laptop is a Celeron 500 with 192 MB RAM. So it outstrips yours by quite a bit. And even so, I stay away from both Gnome and KDE, and run a nice basic X install with Fluxbox as my WM. Given what you want to do with it (running a server, basic system administration) I can't think you'd need much more than that. And that's using Slackware 10.2 with the stock 2.4.31 kernel. It ran fine before I upgraded, too, when it only had 64 megs of RAM - slower, but fine.


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