Low Spec Linux Challenge

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Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby bschool » Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:12 pm

OK I want the impossible:

I've got 39 low spec PCs on my hands that I'd like give away. Unfortunatley I can't hand them out with Windows on as this'll cause licencing woes.

The PCs specs are as follows:

P75 Mhz (Intel)
24Mb Ram
2 Gig HD
Snd & Lan cards (Don't know brands)
4X CDROM (Not all but most)

I need a complete operating system with a wordprocessor, a web browser & all other usual refinements. - It's got to be easy to install and run and include all the drivers I could need. (inc external modems and printers).

Is this possible? As a complete Linux noob any links or advise would be great. (something on a bootable cd would rock!)

btw I tried giving them away to charities but they're to low spec!

Thanks:)
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RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby M-Saunders » Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:11 pm

Well, the RAM is going to be the limiting factor there. You can find quite a few Linux apps that're easy on the CPU, but you'll get into a horrid swapfest if you try to run more than one app on such a machine. Have a search on Freshmeat and the like for light distros -- DamnSmallLinux could possibly squeeze into it, although it'll still be sluggish.

The alternative is to find a suitably old distro and work from there. Red Hat 5.2 should be OK -- I got that running quite happily on a 486 with 16M RAM once. You'll want to avoid KDE and Gnome; instead, try IceWM to give users that Windows-esque feel, and perhaps an AbiWord release of that time. Netscape 4.x is ugly as sin but should still chug along for Interweb-related capers.

Maybe even BeOS would squeeze on (free to download and use)...

Good luck!

M
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RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby Flea » Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:13 pm

I reckon that Slackware with the FVWM desktop would work fast enough. add the Rox Filer manager because XFM is horrible :)
I would think the main problem will be lack of memory, you should dedicate some of the hard disk space to a swap partition.

Honestly though I don't think those box's are suited to a desktop environment, they would be better employed as servers, little mp3 boxs perhaps?
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RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby M-Saunders » Wed Jul 13, 2005 1:41 pm

Come to think of it, you could also try FreeDOS and the OpenGEM GUI, or similar. Will be much lighter than a full UNIX variant like Linux, but still pretty effective. You can get small word processors and browsers for DOS/GEM.

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RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby bschool » Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:02 pm

Thnx guys:) These machines are achingly slow but they do run win95 with word97? and netscapeX-old. I like the look of DSL I'll try it.

But it's looking like I'll have to skip'em. Oh well at least the 90+ 14" monitors have a home.
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RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby Nigel » Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:30 pm

Rather than skipping all of them, would it not be possible to build a smaller number of better spec machines ?
Like doubling up the memory and disk ? 48Mb memory and 4Gb disk will certainly allow you to run an older distro - I've succesfully run Slackware 3.3 on a 486-25 with that amount of memory and disk.

Here's a really mad idea... I wonder if you could build a BeoWolf cluster using all 39 machines ?
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RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby towy71 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:32 pm

Sustainable Computing White Papers list these as being good as terminals, if I was close enough I would beg for half a dozen for my village hall for teaching purposes
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Re: RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby Flea » Wed Jul 13, 2005 3:46 pm

Nigel wrote:Here's a really mad idea... I wonder if you could build a BeoWolf cluster using all 39 machines ?


Thats not mad, thats a really cool idea providing he has the space to spare :wink:
there is what seems to be a few "guides" here and here and here

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Re: RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby Nigel » Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:09 pm

Flea wrote:Thats not mad, thats a really cool idea providing he has the space to spare :wink:


39 machines in one place in this weather... only if you have decent aircon :shock:
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RE: Re: RE: Low Spec Linux Challenge

Postby alloydog » Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:46 pm

You need FreeDOS: http://www.freedos.org/ ('s got a 32bit kernel to boot!)
Seal desktop: http://sealsystem.sourceforge.net/
After that I'm sure you find a 101 applications to run on them - such as word processor, spreadsheets and so on, all being open source, so no 'creative' licencing required...

Most network crads still have DOS driver available, but I'm not sure about the printers - most new printers are USB connected, and whilst there are USB drivers for DOS out there, there still might not be the printer driver available.
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