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Jon_J
This desktop has these specs: Pentium III, 600 MHZ, 512 MB RAM, 20GB HDD, onboard video (sis chip)
Windows 98SE is pretty fast on this computer, so I installed ubuntu 5.10 onto it and the entire install took about 4 hours (huh?)
I've installed a fresh copy of windows on this machine in about an hour in the past.
Ubuntu installed a dualboot scheme, I don't remember the name now, it wasn't lilo. (OK, now I remember, it was Grub).
I had to search the ubuntu forums to get my serial mouse working, (the PS/2 port is bad).
When I finally got to the desktop with a working mouse, it was as slow as molasses.
It took 10 seconds just to open a help window and a file browser window took about as long.
(And I thought some Zaurus apps were slow).
Last year I was going to try Debian, but got lost in the confusing amount of CD-ROMs required to be downloaded and gave that up.
I'm thinking of installing damn small linux on that box, but I thought I would ask here:
What is a good starting linux distro for a beginner that will install on an older PC?
Do all linux distros support cross compiling for the Zaurus? (I would rather muck about on an old desktop, than mess up my Z).

I have since removed it, deleted the extra partitions it set up, and fixed the master boot record, using win XP recovery disc.
It was so slow that it was un usable.
snk4ever
QUOTE(Jon_J @ Oct 30 2007, 11:36 PM) *
5.10

Why such an old version ?
And it should not be that slow, your configuration should enable you to run Ubuntu in good conditions (not perfect but totally acceptable).
I suggest that you try with a more recent version. Also the speed you're talking about is after you proceeded to the hard drive install, right ?
danboid
Indeed 5.10 is positively archaic in the rapidly-changing Linux world.

I installed Ubuntustudio 7.10 (on my AthlonXP 2000 w/ 512MB RAM, nvidia card) and I am SOO impressed with the performance- I've never seen Linux run, boot and shutdown so fast. Not only have I got a RT kernel (which I need for using Ardour and other music apps) but it was also incredibly easy to enable all the Compiz Fusion eye-candy which makes OSX and Vista look dull in comparison. However, you won't be able to take advantage of all the Compiz bling with SiS onboard graphics sad.gif

I've only been running 7.10 a few days but I'm overjoyed with it so far. Wireless 'just worked' (although I've not attempted WPA2 yet) and installing my gfx driver was a simply as running the restricted drivers manager- although I think normal Ubuntu 7.10 comes with the proprietary Nvidia and ATi drivers on the install CD unlike Ubuntustudio. I was also very impressed with how fast Synaptic (the package manager) loads and the fact that it takes about 2s from me clicking 'Shutdown' to my computer turning off- I love stuff like this smile.gif

Another distro getting a lot of attention right now is Mandriva 2008. This also includes Compiz Fusion, nv and ati drivers but unlike Ubuntu it also includes MP3 and flash support on the live CDs (Mandriva ONE) and so it makes for a better live/ recovery disc. I've not tried installing Mandriva 2008 yet so I can't comment if it performs as well as Ubuntu 7.10 when installed to HD. Mandriva has one-up over Ubuntu as it has a very good control centre, only rivalled in the Linux world by OpenSUSE's YasT2 control panel. Indeed, Ubuntu, Mandriva and OpenSUSE are the best choices for a LInux noob.

Another highly recommended distro is sidux, which is based on Debian but is entirely FOSS so don't expect any MP3 playback etc out of the box

For old hardware (64/128 MB RAM machines) I'd recommend cpx-mini, elive or fluxbuntu
desertrat
QUOTE(Jon_J @ Oct 31 2007, 06:36 AM) *
This desktop has these specs: Pentium III, 600 MHZ, 512 MB RAM, 20GB HDD, onboard video (sis chip)
That should be powerful enough a system to not run as "slow as molasses in January" (is that in the Northern hemisphere or Southern??). Up to about 3 years ago my main desktop was running on a 500MHz/256MB machine and performance was acceptable.

QUOTE
Windows 98SE is pretty fast on this computer, so I installed ubuntu 5.10 onto it and the entire install took about 4 hours (huh?)
Have you checked whether DMA for the disks is enabled?

QUOTE
When I finally got to the desktop with a working mouse, it was as slow as molasses.
It took 10 seconds just to open a help window and a file browser window took about as long.
But what was it like after the app has loaded?
QUOTE
Last year I was going to try Debian, but got lost in the confusing amount of CD-ROMs required to be downloaded and gave that up.
It does get slightly confusing but essentially you only need to download 1 disc - the "net install" disc or whatever it's called. Debian also has another option these days, you can download a single disc which will auto install KDE for you (I think there are gnome & xfce flavoured discs as well).

QUOTE
I'm thinking of installing damn small linux on that box, but I thought I would ask here:
What is a good starting linux distro for a beginner that will install on an older PC?
Do all linux distros support cross compiling for the Zaurus? (I would rather muck about on an old desktop, than mess up my Z).
If it is only for cross-compiling purposes you probably should install pdaXrom itself. There is also a package, which you can install on practically any linux distro, that sets up a cross-compile environment for you.
Capn_Fish
Try Xubuntu. It runs quite snappily on a 1GHz, 256MB machine. It ought to work for you, plus it's easy to use.

If that's a little too heavy, Debian with Xfce works well for me (I just used on disc to install it, the first one IIRC), and I find it to be a bit lighter than Xubuntu.

HTH
arniel
QUOTE(Capn_Fish @ Oct 31 2007, 11:46 AM) *
Try Xubuntu. It runs quite snappily on a 1GHz, 256MB machine. It ought to work for you, plus it's easy to use.

If that's a little too heavy, Debian with Xfce works well for me (I just used on disc to install it, the first one IIRC), and I find it to be a bit lighter than Xubuntu.

HTH


I tried ubuntu 6.06 on a 850MHz PIII and it was indeed painfully slow, so much so that I dug out an Athlon 1GHz jobbie which was significantly faster.
Didn't have much luck with the graphics though - it seemed to be stuck at 800x600, 56Hz and nothing on the menus helped me.
Although I am a programmer, I wanted to test it to see how a newbie would get it up and running so I didn't do too much googling for the answer. The result was not good, using both a matrox G100 and a SiS AGP card.
Xubuntu on a Thinkpad 600 wasn't too much of a success either. Looks like it has a way to go before it becomes as point-and-clicky as a Windoze install.
Jon_J
Thank you for all your replies.
I installed version 5.10 because I already have the discs. (windows 98SE is a lot older, isn't it?) I installed it to the hard drive.
QUOTE
Have you checked whether DMA for the disks is enabled?
DMA is enabled in windows.
The setup (CMOS) for that PC has these settings for the hard drive:
LBA-on
Blk-on
Pio-mode 4 (There is also a setting for auto. Is "Pio mode 4" the same as DMA?)
32Bit-on

I'll try another distro. If I try Debian. I'll stay with a stable version.
If using only one CD, you have to be connected to a network, don't you?
What is the best version for that old machine?
Can 2.4 kernel stuff be compiled on a machine with a 2.6 kernel?

I'll try PdaXrom later.
I also have a knoppix CD
I want to install whatever I use to the hard drive for better speed, and not run it from a CD.
I don't have a network connection to that machine.
Capn_Fish
I don't think you NEED to be connected to the network for Debian, if you install in expert mode, but maybe you do. It sure helps.

If you could run a network cable temporarily, you could install just the base Debian image, then install something like Fluxbox or IceWM from there. That ought to be light enough.

Knoppix is likely to be excruciatingly slow, as it uses KDE and is running from the CD.
JohnX
Another vote for Xubuntu. I still absolutely insist on Debian-stable for servers but for desktops/workstations I'm sold on Ubuntu/Xubuntu. I have Xubuntu on a 2GHz P4M (clocked at 1.2GHz for heat reasons :/) with 512MB RAM. I recently tried Debian again on a spare partition, but I had forgotten how much stuff Xubuntu had configured automagically on this laptop (for example, the multimedia keys, the power saving, the wireless, X11).
adf
Rant warning!
[xubuntu is a good otio/ agreed.

I have developed a gripe with ubuntu, though- I like stable systems, so I installed dapper (6.06) a while ago. I've been happy with it,but it looks like there is not going to be any sort of smooth apt based upgrade to the next stable version. The updates, especially the handling of binary modules/ has been really nice, but if there isn't going to be a stable to stable upgrade path dapper might well be my last ubuntu install-- having to redo a system for a dist-upgrade is a bit much imho.

tux
QUOTE(adf @ Nov 1 2007, 03:20 AM) *
Rant warning!
[xubuntu is a good otio/ agreed.

I have developed a gripe with ubuntu, though- I like stable systems, so I installed dapper (6.06) a while ago. I've been happy with it,but it looks like there is not going to be any sort of smooth apt based upgrade to the next stable version. The updates, especially the handling of binary modules/ has been really nice, but if there isn't going to be a stable to stable upgrade path dapper might well be my last ubuntu install-- having to redo a system for a dist-upgrade is a bit much imho.

cool.gif remembering Dapper Drake, I believe there is a way of turning dist-upgrade on for synaptic. That should be somewhere in their howtos,forums? Might give you a route to the next LTS version. smile.gif

However I have just done a straightforward install of Gutys Gibbon aka 7.10 on my desktop, two laptops. It took approx 40 minutes to get the basic system up, then about an hour of tweaking to get multimedia etc set up. Doesn't seem a terrible long time, particularly in contrast to setting debian up on BigZ. laugh.gif

This 7.10 isn't LTS so the dist-upgrade route is available without any special switches. cool.gif
Chero
try compiling your own kernel on ubuntu, it speeds up things quite a lot.
adf
QUOTE(tux @ Nov 1 2007, 01:59 AM) *
QUOTE(adf @ Nov 1 2007, 03:20 AM) *
Rant warning!
[xubuntu is a good otio/ agreed.

I have developed a gripe with ubuntu, though- I like stable systems, so I installed dapper (6.06) a while ago. I've been happy with it,but it looks like there is not going to be any sort of smooth apt based upgrade to the next stable version. The updates, especially the handling of binary modules/ has been really nice, but if there isn't going to be a stable to stable upgrade path dapper might well be my last ubuntu install-- having to redo a system for a dist-upgrade is a bit much imho.

cool.gif remembering Dapper Drake, I believe there is a way of turning dist-upgrade on for synaptic. That should be somewhere in their howtos,forums? Might give you a route to the next LTS version. smile.gif

However I have just done a straightforward install of Gutys Gibbon aka 7.10 on my desktop, two laptops. It took approx 40 minutes to get the basic system up, then about an hour of tweaking to get multimedia etc set up. Doesn't seem a terrible long time, particularly in contrast to setting debian up on BigZ. laugh.gif

This 7.10 isn't LTS so the dist-upgrade route is available without any special switches. cool.gif

Ah--I had thought gutsy was to have become the next LTS--if it isn't then there isn't yet a next LTS and I'm horribly mistaken- thanks.

@Chero-- Isn't the ubuntu 686 kernel reasonably well optimized? My experience in rebuilding the k7 kernels is that optimizations past -02 aren't stable, and that -02 isn't really noticeably faster than the (in my case k7) kernel ubuntu distributes. I ask mostly by way of verifying that I might have done a better job when I was tinkering with this.
mfbrown
Just seen this post and can't believe that nobody's suggested Puppy linux. Definitely (he says, as a bit of a newbie!) the best for older machines. Give it try (live CD, so try it without waiting to load).
Cresho
"damn small linux" on a thumb drive.

anyway, i think you are having serious issues john. I can run ubuntu 7.10 on a 300mhz system with 256 ram....laptop. It's just slow. Xubuntu is way fast.

my home pc runs ubuntu so awsome like that it makes vista look like a 10 year old operating system. Once you enable all the eye candy, fonts, transparancy, it is so sawsome. btw, i am at the ubuntu forums with the same name posting stupid comments sometimes like a newbie.
danboid
Here are my recommendations:

MANDRIVA 2008 ONE (GNOME EDITION) (256MB RAM min req)

Best wifi support I've ever seen in a Linux distro- by FAR! Mandriva has its own wifi tool which has worked with every chipset I've tried with it yet, WPA and WEP. Compiz Fusion for Vista-destroying desktop FX, NV/Ati 3D drivers, MP3, Flash and MP4 playback all included on this live CD. Mandriva has a great control panel which is faster than YasT (SUSEs rival effort which both Debian and Ubuntu lack a decent equivalent of yet). I'd say this is the best disc for Linux noobs in most cases.

Ubuntu 7.10

If you actually turn off your machines and you're bothered about boot and shut down time like me- Ubuntu 7.10 is a good bet as it boots a full 30s faster than say Mandriva or Suse on my machine! Ubuntu(studio) is also quite special in that it easily allows me to have both a rt kernel and Compiz/Nvidia driver at the same time- installing the rt kernel under Mandriva 2008 messes the system good and proper unfortunately.

The best thing about Ubuntu is it its easy access to 22k+ reasonably uptodate packages through the wonderful APT packager. I would say that if you don't need the super-easy wifi support and control panel of Mandriva then try Ubuntu Alternate first. Ubuntu 7.10 desktop CD is OK for checking a system out but don't install off it- hasn't worked once for me and I tried it a few times.

If you want Ubuntu 7.10 with multimedia stuff included plus additional tweaks then try Mint Linux - http://linuxmint.com/

CPX-mini

This is my fave distro for the rebirth of machines otherwise considered useless- PCs with as little as 64MB RAM suddenly become lightning fast Debian boxes thanks to cpx-mini, a fluxbox/rox based desktop with auto-mounting of discs that can be installed on a 256MB usb stick!

http://debian.tu-bs.de/project/cpx-mini/

The cpx-mini dev promises a sidux vased version will be out soon but an alternative to cpx-mini, if you can get it to work, is fluxbuntu which uses the same wm/file manager (fluxbox/rox) combo but has a much more up-to-date Ubunbtu 7.10 base. I've tried the x86 RC but failed to get it to boot tho.

2008 will be a VERY exciting year for Linux, without a doubt! Craiginator for one...
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