[Rule] Summary/random thoughts on RULE

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Mon Sep 3 23:56:33 EEST 2007


On 24/08/07, M. Fioretti <mfioretti at nexaima.net> wrote:
> Hello everybody
> About other distros: there is Ubuntu-lite (which sadly seems unactive
> more or less like us, these days...) and www.elivecd.org is probably
> worth a look.

Indeed so. :(

I'm worried about this myself. I have never been a big fan of Red Hat,
although I know it was /the/ standard in the USA for many years. I
have tried 1 or 2 versions before - couldn't even get them to install
on my standard testbed machines.

It seems to me that increasingly the dominant Linux distro is Ubuntu.
(I am typing on it right now; it's my default PC OS these days.)

I'd like to say I resent its rise to fame, in a way, but I can't. It's
free. It's not crippled, although the omission of proprietary-content
drivers is a real pain. It's sponsored by a nice guy, Mark
Shuttleworth, who I've met and talked to and visited his flat and
drunk his fruit juice. Really pleasant chap. Not fond of journalists,
was my impression :) - which is a shame, 'cos I am one!

But he is doing it for the right reasons and he can afford to sponsor
it for many years to come. He is still worth some half a billion
dollars.

I've got a reasonable amount of experience of Debian and Red Hat back
in the bad old days of the 1990s. RPM was rubbish then and I am not
yet convinced that things like YUM and URMPI have fixed it now.

Debian always was about as user-friendly as a cornered rat, but Ubuntu
has fixed it, and if anything, done a better job than anyone since
Corel. It's easy to install, it Just Works most of the time on most
machines, it's clean and fast and simple. There's one best-choice
component for most things & it's fairly clean and relatively small.

But, GNOME and OpenOffice do really want at /least/ 256MB RAM and a
1GHz+ CPU to be pleasant. Ideally, just like XP, 384MB of RAM or more.

Xubuntu is quite acceptable in 192MB RAM and a 100MHz front-side bus
Pentium 2 or better - from a 350MHz P2 to a 6-800MHz P3.

There's nothing if you run less than that. Fluxbuntu might work but it
looks a bit rough around the edges still.

But the low end is moving on now. The really antique machines still
keep running, but the sort of kit I get for free and give away to
friends now runs Win2K quite well: it's usually a slow P3 (5-600MHz)
with 192MB or more of RAM and a 10GB disk. That is not such a low
target.

I'd still like to see a distro for a Win98-level PC: 64-128MB RAM,
end-of-line Pentium 1 (200-233MHz) or low-end P2 (266 or so), 6GB or
so of hard disk. But I am not convinced that there is much real need
for it. It would be nice, but really, only a keen enthusiast wants to
keep such a PC running now. Better machines are widely and readily
available for free.

I have been trying to think of a reason to justify such a distro or
package, and the best I could come up with was, if it runs on really
low-spec machines, it will be a really high-performance distro for
something newer and more powerful.

I wrote an article on this theme recently. Perhaps RULE readers might
find it interesting?

http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=40532

What do people think? Is there really a need for a distro for mid-'90s
or older PCs any more?

-- 
Liam Proven • Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/liamproven
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