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Re: [school-discuss] linux distributions for low resource computers

I have a lot of experience doing this.  I have an old 486-50 IBM laptop with
20 megs of RAM and a  Pentium 120 Toshiba Libretto with 32 megs of RAM and
three computer labs at the school with Pentiums from 200 -450 MHZ and 128
megs of RAM each.

On the 486 with 20 megs of RAM, no GUI has proven satisfactory in any way.
It still makes a very good command-line console with Slackware, especially
Zipslack.  The Libretto with 32 megs of RAM provides a working GUI to which
I've installed Red Had up through version 6 running older KDE desktops (not
very well), and then Slackware, and finally a minimal installation of Gentoo
I compiled on a desktop PC specifically for the LIbretto both with the XFCE
desktop.  The most challenging programs for the Libretto have been Firefox,
OpenOffice, and Gimp.  Firefox is almost unusable due to speed and prone to
crash.  I have and do run Puppy on the Libretto, but it has to be installed
the brute force way as it can't boot from a CD and has no USB ports.  Puppy
is very satisfactory, best usability of the small distros, for personal use,
but the versions I've used through 2.x were not secure and only used root login.

On the 128 meg machines in the computer labs (these are fat clients where
the OS and all the software reside on the clients, but the student's logins
and files all reside on the server, a Celeron 366 w/256 megs of RAM) - they
have been satisfactory on the Slackware/Zenwalk (XFCE desktop) from a couple
of years ago and pretty much run everything at a reasonable, but poky speed.
 The students primarily use Firefox, OpenOffice, AbiWord.  Based on these
experiences, once you cross the 128 meg threshold, you can use standard
lighter-weight distributions successfully, subject to problems with
non-standard hardware or firmware in fair number of the older boxes.

Something about your mileage varying ...
Andy Figueroa

Laura nmi Michaels wrote:
> I've been experimenting with trying to find a Linux distribution that works 
> on an old laptop (about 9 years old) with only 64 MB.  Keep thinking that 
> getting older machines working might be useful for students as well, 
> especially if they don't have a computer and might be able to get an old one 
> from someone who no longer needs it.
> Was just wondering if anyone else has any experience in this area.  Would 
> really like to compare notes with some other users who are trying to bring 
> some old machines back to life.
> So far, I've tried DeLi Linux and Absolute Linux on the laptop and both 
> appear to work to some extent.  I've also been doing a lot of compiling and 
> experimenting with programs that don't come with these distributions.  I 
> think I've tried out over 100 light weight Open Source applications that run 
> with some degree of success on older systems.
> As I said, would love to compare notes with others interested in using older 
> computers with low resources.  Thanks.
> Sincerely,
> Laura
> http://www.distasis.com/cpp/dlin.htm