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Re: [OS:N:] Linux on low-end hardware?



On Sat, 2006-01-14 at 17:53 -0600, Robert Citek wrote:
> What linux distro and setup do people here recommend for low-end  
> hardware?

I would give Debian a try. 
Maybe you can refer to http://distrowatch.com/ as well.

> I'm helping out a local non-profit group "refurbish" machines that  
> they get as donations.  This group then uses the machines to teach  
> young kids about computing and sells the machines to raise a bit of  
> cash.  Most of these machines are low-end x86 machines, e.g. <400  
> MHZ, <128 MB RAM, <6 GB HDD, usually a WinModem.  Currently, their  
> standard operating procedure is to triage the machine (if the machine  
> is not working as a whole, remove parts and assemble a working  
> machine from parts), wipe the drive, install Windows 98 and some  
> application software, and configure the modem for dial-up.  Because  
> of licensing restrictions on Windows98, they'd like to move to  
> Linux.  The question is, what distro given the older hardware?
> 
> To date I've tried the following: FeatherLinux, DamnSmallLinux,  
> VectorLinux, Knoppix (using PDI, no install), Ubuntu (server install  
> followed by install of xfce4), CentOS (base install followed by  
> install of xfce4).  Each distro has its pluses and minuses but  
> nothing stood out at the clear choice so far.  VectorLinux using xfce4 
> +ROX has come the closest to ideal.
> 
> The requirements for a distro, in addition to being able to run on  
> older hardware, are:
> 
> 1) look/feel similar enough to MS Windows so learning curve is not  
> too steep.  E.g. start-menu, manipulating windows, configuring  
> system.  xfce4 with some tweaks seems to work fairly well, but I'm  
> curious to know of other's experiences.
> 
> 2) simple to install application software.  Installing synaptic on  
> most debian-based systems addresses this.

I love Debian for APT is such a rich tool.

> 3) simple to clone or script an install.  I'm most familiar with  
> kickstart, but perhaps there are other solutions.

SystemImager: http://www.systemimager.org/
FAI: http://www.informatik.uni-koeln.de/fai/

> 4) provide an obvious upgrade path.  Ubuntu looks nicest for this: on  
> low-end hardware use xfce and on more powerful hardware use KDE/Gnome.
> 
> Of course, the hardest requirement is that it has to be "palatable"  
> to the other volunteers who are doing the work.  In my experience, if  
> the software is too different (steep learning curve) or gives them  
> too much headache (too inconsistent, buggy), they walk away.  And no  
> non-profit wants to lose volunteers.
> 
> If anyone wants to share experiences or recommendations, I'd love to  
> hear them.  Or if people know of blogs that already discuss some or  
> all of what I'm looking for, please do post links.

-- 
Regards,
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