“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Size and Linux.

with 4 comments

As requested more Linux, a review of sorts, rather subjective and unscientific, pay no attention!

There is a strong tendency amongst developers of Linux distros to emulate Microsoft.

No, not in a nasty way, rather to include everything and the kitchen sink, just in case.

The end result is that a fast operating system is burden with bloatware and unnecessary frills, KDE4 is a prime example.

But I am not going to moan about KDE4, if people like it, fine, I don’t and prefer less inflated software, so trying to find a really small usable Linux-based operating system for a small and slow machine is hard. Not impossible, but harder that it ought to be.

Antix Linux is fine for most things, but I wanted something smaller, compact and workable even on the smallest of old PCs. That way, when you put it on a half way decent machine then it should positively zip along, like a greased whippet. Well, that’s the idea.

So in an unscientific way I picked Puppy, TinyCore and SliTaz as possible choices.

Firstly, Puppy. It gets good reviews and it is about 100 Mb to download, boots up well enough, finds the NIC and allows usage straight from the LiveCD. But you can’t (as with other LiveCD) installs packages until it has been dumped on a hard drive. That’s where the problem begins. Whilst Puppy works well as a LiveCD the installation routine seems like an afterthought, written on the way back from the pub. It is very chatty and less than straightforward. Installation to the hard drive does work in version 4.3.1 but seemed a bit buggy on the X setup, looping, shutting down and going thru the same script again and again. It can work, I know cos I got it working ages back on an older version, but it seems happier on as a LiveCD or USB stick setup. Why the developer couldn’t have followed others when putting together the installer I’ll never know. All in all strikes me as a bit eccentric. But if it works for you, OK. 5/10.

TinyCore is, I believe, from one of the ex-authors of Damn Small Linux. It is very small about 10Mb, and then later on you add the packages. I confess I had wanted a chance to trial this out, but the install is weird. Not too complex, but I couldn’t see an easy way of “re-use an existing partition” for a full hard drive install, still the LiveCD boots up well enough and you could run from there without touching the hard drive, from what I’ve read. I must concentrate and re-do this one, sometime, it has great potential. An optimistic 7/10.

Finally, Slitaz, which took the field by storm a few years back. Sadly it seems to have stopped pushing itself, but is still just around. A 30 Mb download, burn to CD and reboot. Slitaz comes over as the more conventional of these three distros. Install is simple, follow a menu, and 10 minutes later it is on your hard drive, using GRUB. It made the old wreck of a PC that I tested it on usable, a Dell laptop, 400Mhz Pentium 2, 256Mb of memory and an old 5 Gb disk. Slitaz comes in two version, a stable release and a cooker. Software installation on Slitaz is using its own package management, but it is functional and not hard. All in all it feels like a normal distro, but a smaller one, with all the necessary bits and pieces in place. Very commendable. 7.5/10, as Slitaz seems to be in hibernation for the moment, I hope it doesn’t fade out as so many promising ones do.

Written by modernityblog

20/10/2009 at 17:33

4 Responses

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  1. “The end result is that a fast operating system is burden with bloatware and unnecessary frills…”

    This will be the history of any successful piece of software. Look what happened with FireFox, to take one example. Gmail thatis becoming more and more heavy is another.

    This is why any new software looks to us quick and clean…


    22/10/2009 at 14:11

  2. agreed, there is a counter movement, and Chrome is faster than Firefox, although on Linux a bit more buggy.


    22/10/2009 at 14:53

  3. […] ignore the hype, wait for 6-9 months for the bug fixes to appear, instead download any one of the many great distros at distrowatch, and save a packet in the process. Posted by modernityblog Filed […]

  4. […] 5, 2009 2:25 am In keeping with a diverse mix of topics I thought I would return to not reviewing Linux distributions, in my own incomplete and unscientific fashion, here’s something on Absolute […]

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