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Review/Overview of Lightweight Linux Distros 96

pcause writes "Here is a review of various lightweight Linux distros. Not sure I agree with the conclusions, since I am a PuppyLinux user, but it is a nice overview of some current options." Reviewed are: Arch 2007.08-2, Damn Small Linux 4.2.5, Puppy 4.0, TinyMe Test7-KD, Xubuntu 8.04, and Zenwalk 5.0.
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Review/Overview of Lightweight Linux Distros

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  • Why not Debian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:25PM (#23559655) Journal
    IMO, the best light weight distribution is Debian. A net installation leaves you with nothing but a console. You can apt-get anything you need, and only what you need. Why do you need a specific distribution for this? What does the Debian based Damn Small Linux offer me that plain Debian doesn't?
    • Re:Why not Debian? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:34PM (#23559767)
      The fact that you don't have to install to a console-only and not apt-get every package that you want.
    • Re:Why not Debian? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:34PM (#23559775) Journal
      This should be true of any distro with a sufficiently advanced package manager and repository system.

      Gentoo starts out the simplest, with nothing more than a livecd -- you have to format yourself, unpack a tarball, chroot, and do the bootstrapping, pretty much all by yourself.

      Ubuntu has a variant which installs something about as minimal as Debian. You can always install everything else you need -- the bigger variants are as simple as "apt-get install ubuntu-desktop" and such.

      Those are the ones I've used extensively. My guess is that the review is about how it all comes together for a specific lightweight UI and such, but I haven't read TFA yet.
      • I got hooked on Gentoo the moment I first emerged kde-base/kdebase-startkde and ended up with a blank, pristine desktop, without even a kicker.
        • I don't know what the equivalent would be, but I'm betting you didn't emerge something bigger, like "kde" or "kde-desktop".

          And I never bothered to check, but I suspect that it's possible to do the same with Debian. I like kicker, though, so I haven't bothered.
        • For my play-around-with machine, I run a desktop I built myself with scavenged parts. I'd consider it approximately equal to an average Windows 2000 machine, or a low, low, low end XP machine. I, too, am (or was) a gentoo user.

          Do you KNOW how long emerge kde takes for my machine?

          3 days. 72 hours. For the love of God, why is that OK?
          • Sounds like you emerged the wrong package - kde-meta or whatever it's called, which contains everything under the sun. If you're going to pull in applications you don't want then Gentoo is not at all the right distro to do it in.

            kde-base/kdebase-startkde is a minimalist package that only pulls in the core libraries and their dependencies. It basically takes your X server and just does enough to replace the ugly grey x-checkered pattern with a default background, without installing additional common componen
            • It's been a while since I moved away from gentoo, I'm sad to see I did so through my own ignorance. Thanks, I'll be moving back for 2008.0.

              Assuming it's not out yet. Haven't been up on my readings lately.
              • Meh. They're releasing 2008.0 soon. Gentoo has been in decline for a while, but they got a great kick in the pants when they were shamed in January with the public news of their disencharterment with the state of New Mexico (which has recently been rectified). They've been improving for a while, but I write this just to warn you that it may not be exactly like you remember it.

                I'm still sticking with it for my new box. Gotta love that startkde package.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by scipiodog ( 1265802 )

      IMO, the best light weight distribution is Debian. A net installation leaves you with nothing but a console. You can apt-get anything you need, and only what you need.

      A similar argument could be made for other distros, including Ubuntu - ie. an install without a GUI.

      Why do you need a specific distribution for this? What does the Debian based Damn Small Linux offer me that plain Debian doesn't?

      A less resource-hungry GUI by default?

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 )
      I'll see your Debian and raise you a copy of Linux from Scratch. Small, light, and does everything I need it to. :-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I'll see your Debian and raise you a copy of Linux from Scratch. Small, light, and does everything I need it to. :-)

        I'm unfamiliar with your needs, but if you want to rapidly deploy a reasonably feature complete lightweight OS to a menagerie of older donated/found/sitting in a closet gathering dust computers, it's easier to use a pre-made distro.

      • Re:Why not Debian? (Score:5, Informative)

        by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @09:53PM (#23565537)
        Why was parent modded troll? My own Linux From Scratch [] setup weighs in at a little over 100 mb and it includes gcc, perl, python, vim, php, mysql, gtk+, some games, etc.

        From the website:

        When you install a regular distribution, you often end up installing a lot of programs that you would probably never use. They're just sitting there taking up (precious) disk space. It's not hard to get an LFS system installed under 100 MB. Does that still sound like a lot? A few of us have been working on creating a very small embedded LFS system. We installed a system that was just enough to run the Apache web server; total disk space usage was approximately 8 MB. With further stripping, that can be brought down to 5 MB or less. Try that with a regular distribution.
        I'm running mine on a Celeron 366 with 128 mb ram. It took about a full day to compile everything. (Would take far less on a modern machine). Ok, its not for everyone, but its perfect if space is at a premium.
    • DSL offers a live CD that's actually usable, supports network, and can be used to get used to the interface, etc.

      Personally, I have Zenwalk on my computer. I've been using it for over a year, after switching from Slackware. I love it. :)
      • ^My favorite thing about DSL is that (with sufficient memory) it loads the whole shooting match into RAM, so it's quite snappy.
        • by emj ( 15659 )
          It's snappy even if you don't load it to ram.. ;-) Sadly DSL is IMHO only useful in emergancies, since none of the included tools are very famliar to me.

          I mean using scheme as an Excel replacement, is abit hardcore.
          • I wouldn't use it as a primary general purpose O.S. but it's damn useful as a bag-o-tricks for odds and ends. It's a great little bootdisk with network support for remote drive imaging/restore, it's also great for re-purposing old "dead" PCs into random useful things. One of my more peculiar former bosses wouldn't touch a computer, didn't want to come in to the office, lest pissed investors locate him, and preferred to run the husk of what remained of his company from a speaker phone and fax machine. Any
    • I may give it another shot some time in the future, but the last time I tried a debian install (on my work machine, so I didn't really care as much) the installer didn't even give me the option to choose my desktop environment, sticking me with gnome when I wanted KDE. If there was a way to select individual packages, I didn't see it; instead I got questions like "What kind of machine do you want" with options for Desktop, Web Server, FTP Server, Samba Server, a billion other kinds of "servers", etc.

      Of cour
      • I may give it another shot some time in the future, but the last time I tried a debian install (on my work machine, so I didn't really care as much) the installer didn't even give me the option to choose my desktop environment, sticking me with gnome when I wanted KDE.

        There is a reason for that. KDE was (is still?) considered non-free because of its use of the Qt toolkit. Debian is 'pure' in its Freedom, thus you have to install KDE from a non-free repository.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Qt is licensed under the GPL, and it and KDE are available from the standard Debian repositories. It took me all of 15 seconds to find this information.
        • Re:Why not Debian? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Workaphobia ( 931620 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @02:10AM (#23567247) Journal
          Dude, no offense, but what year are you living in? Qt has been free software for a very long time now, even though it wasn't free originally. Gnome is less restrictive since it's licensed under the LGPL, but reciprocal GPL fans can't object to KDE anymore.
    • by Sparr0 ( 451780 )
      Damn Small Linux packs a lot more usefulness into the same size as a minimal Debian installation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mrmeval ( 662166 )
      Can it run on a Pentium 90 laptop with 32meg ram and a 340meg harddrive and be installed with only a couple floppies and wired network card?
      • Do you realize that there are half a dozen people here who don't see sarcasm? You can almost hear them running to linux from scratch to see how small an OS they can make for you. This is inevitably followed by several dozen other people leaving them comments on the LFS forums about how they would have done it differently. Ahh, /. Where every minor detail becomes a war for geek cred.
      • Debian running on a salvaged Dell Lattitude XPi
        Pentium1 133Mhz and 24MiB.
        Installation done using floppies (didn't manage to use the dock's SCSI) and a 10mpbs connection.

        It works although it's a bit slow.
        Graphic interface (using fluxbox as desktop environment) is a little bit sluggish (better not start firefox. Dillo can do the job instead).

        You were trying to be funny, but some are actually doing it for real.
        • by mrmeval ( 662166 )
          Actually I'm surprised at getting rated funny. I have a Stinkpad P90 that meets those specs but it's running a badly mauled RH 7.3 (botched 7.1 upgrade) and I don't trust it's security so don't let it play in the information freeway.

          I was using it as a picture server with dyndns. It works fine. I was able to do an FTP install and will probably have to again with something that will work. I've just been to busy to muck with setting up something.

          My current picture server is a rack mount Pentium with the F00F
    • I must comment that, from what I understand, DSL does chop some code from the standard Debian binaries and compiles for small size.
    • DSL has working X, a browser, and some other utilitarian-type apps. There's still a demand for a "ready-to-run", "load it and go" CD-based distro. I have to ask, "Why start with a bunch of junky software that's there just because it's small?"

      I'm totally with you on the Netinstall Debian angle. Start small, and 'apt-get' what you need. I built a demo server today in under an hour using that concept. I don't know what the installed footprint is, but I'm betting it's under 500MB. The beauty of this approac
  • Arch Linux for me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:35PM (#23559799)
    Arch is a great distro. Sure, you have to do a lot yourself, but that's the point. By making you look over your /etc files at install, you get a good sense about what your system is actually loading during boot.
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <<ibisum> <at> <>> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:37PM (#23559833) Homepage Journal

    1: Complete Development Toolkit

    Yes, thats right, I want a full compiler and development environment, first and foremost .. gcc, gdb, as, ld, cscope, vim, grep, python .. *minimum* ..

    2: FULL SOURCE ONBOARD .. and then I want the full source for the complete system onboard as well, so that I can run 'cscope -R -b' on /usr/src and have a fully working, 100% open source system, with its source on board, on a USB stick. Everything configured already so that 'make install' goes to my working image, etc.

    No, don't bother arguing with me .. I'm already working on it ..

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gazzonyx ( 982402 )
      You mean, you're remaking Slackware? *ducks*
    • that won't be lightweight, will be hundreds of megabytes.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Slackware is the best out there because it doesn't separate documentation and development libs from their package.
      Debian like distributions makes me feel like crying a little because say, you want to develop software for kde, you'll have to get kdebase, kdebase-dev, kdebase-doc and so on. Slackware packages are all in one. You install a .tgz, it has the doc, it has what it needs if you want to link to it and it has the software.
    • Please, a lot of major distros don't have that. Ubuntu doesn't even have gcc by default!
  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:42PM (#23559911) Journal
    I agree with his statement that DSL can be pretty ugly, but it's very lightweight. I studied abroad for a semester and didn't bring a computer with me, but found an ancient Pentium-1 era machine that was being thrown out. It had Windows 95 on it, which would have been utterly useless; with DSL, I was able to plug a USB wifi dongle in it and get it working with ndiswrapper. Plus, if I remember correctly, DSL is based on Debian, so you can easily install the stuff it doesn't have (movie player, etc) with apt-get.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thsths ( 31372 )
      > I agree with his statement that DSL can be pretty ugly, but it's very lightweight. I studied abroad for a semester and didn't bring a computer with me, but found an ancient Pentium-1 era machine that was being thrown out.

      Yes, I used DSL for similar situations, too. However, I have a spare Athlon XP plus board, a spare Nvidia 5200, and I am sure there should be a memory bar with 256 MB somewhere. You can put these in any ATX case, and make a damn fine Linux installation with the distribution of your cho
    • Good luck decoding and playing back video in mplayer on a pentium1. Mine had trouble with mp3 files. The stock distribution of debian should have worked fine, so getting DSL seems kind of an odd choice here.

      It's probably wise to ditch any P1 era machine unless it's absolutely needed and there's no other hardware to run. Those systems drink a lot of electricity for the amount of work they get done.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        A P1 will do just fine for some tasks even now. A firewall, maybe a NAS. I would tend to stick to at least a PII.
        As to the power for watts. Remember most PCs today spend a large amount of their time waiting. Only renderfarms and HPC worry about peak MIPS per watt.
        • I'd prefer at least a P3 for firewalls (way more efficient). a P1 would be able to handle a fairly small ruleset but if you want to do anything slightly more advanced, like running snort, it's not doing to keep up with much more than a home broadband connection. Your consumption vs what you are getting done would make just running Linux on a WRT54G router, or similar equipment, much more feasible.

          Beyond the processor, the rest of the old equipment associated are the power suckers.
      • Most P1's don't have the "energy star" ratings... and can be problematic to idle HDDs or go into standby. The PIIs and newer will generally be better about this (I swapped out a P1 motherboard for a PII because the NAS software at the time couldn't spin down the HDD's with the P1).

        However, if you build a NAS (like or router (pfsense/monowall) on a stripped out computer it will use something like 32watts or less running (I just finished a pfsense AP on a PII-300Mhz and this was a real readi
    • What are you talking about, it would have been useless? In 1995 I didn't have a dual-core powerhouse - I didn't even have a Pentium I, I was just out of high school and broke. I used Windows 95 on a 486 DX4/100, and you know what? It worked pretty well.

      • This was Fall 2006. Sure, back in 1996, I was using Windows 95 on a 486 too. My point was that Windows 95 on today's internet is pretty much useless. There wouldn't have even been drivers for the WiFi dongle I had. Installing DSL not only saved me some space on the tiny 4 GB HDD, it also allowed me to connect to a wireless network with a modern dongle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I built my main desktop box in November 1996 (Micron Millenia Pro2 Plus, a PPro/200 w/64MB since expanded to 192MB).

          It runs Firefox under Warp 4 FP15 just fine, and dual-boots to Win95 OSR2 which also runs Firefox just fine. Multitasking under Warp is much snoother, of course, but both platforms are able to play music, handle javascript, handle most Firefox plugins, run Java programs, and even do Flash stuff as long as it isn't too CPU-intensive (YouTube is not an option, sadly). Thunder
      • There are really two separate issues for usability - does the machine and OS support the hardware you need, and does it support the software applications you need or want with acceptable performance?

        For hardware, if the machine's got an Ethernet card and you're satisfied with the graphics resolution, and have enough disk space, you're fine. You won't be adding wireless cards that didn't have drivers back in the day, and lack of USB can be annoying (and my old P133 laptop has pre-Cardbus PCMCIA slots, so th

    • Wait a minute! A Pentium-1 machine with Windows 95 and USB? That is a pretty lucky find.

      I remember upgrading my old P-1 to be USB capable and having to upgrade to Windows 98 because Windows 95 wasn't compatible without installing massive amounts of service packs. I figure your machine must have been a top of the line model of late 1996 or early 1997 because if it was earlier, USB [] wouldn't be supported by Windows 95 []. Any later and it would have been a Pentium-2. []
  • No, really, I'd like to see a comparison, because the basic FreeBSD install without Gnome or KDE is pretty small, and it's what I'm used to, so I'd like to see how he compared it to these supposedly small Linux distros, since I'm doing more Linux in my new job.
    • by emj ( 15659 )
      FreeBSD doesn't fit the profile, but if you have anything based on FreeBSD that is specifically made for small computers and with a desktop. I think this is what makes all those small Linux dists special, they try really hard to fit alot of things into a small space.

      QNX set the bar pretty high in this area with their browser+OS on a single floppy..
      • by argent ( 18001 )
        Have you installed FreeBSD? The installer doesn't use X11, and you don't even need to install X11... most of my FreeBSD installs don't include X11... they're all servers. BSD is based around a core OS that's pretty much only what eny usable UNIX system is going to need, and everything else, including the desktop, is optional. I don't know if you can still build PicoBSD (a super-stripped derivitive of FreeBSD) on a 2.0 Mo floppy, and it's sure not QNX+Photon... you can't shrink X11 down as small as Photon...
        • <-- batman provided links, So I'll comment there.

          All that is true for most Linux distributions as well, but many servers can very well have use for X11 even though they are headless. Maybe you want to play XBattle with your friends.

          Just thought I would give some refs, not sure why.. ;-) Debian boots easily with 30MB memory [], and with LVM and module loading disabled it needs 13MB.
          • by argent ( 18001 )
            So sad, how kernels have bloated. :)

            The machine I used to put together 386BSD patchkit 23 had 4M RAM. And that felt like all the room in the world! At work we still had some multiuser development boxes with less than a megabyte at the time. I used it as a webserver on the Internet until 1999, when I discovered I would need a minimum of 5MB to install the new version of FreeBSD (though it would still run in less, it needed space for the compressed in-ram root partition). FIVE WHOLE MEGABYTES? INCONCEIVABLE!

      • FreeBSD doesn't fit the profile

        Whatchoo' talkin' 'bout, Willis? Have you never heard of NanoBSD [] and TinyBSD []?

        Not to mention Damn Small BSD [], M0n0wall [], and the FreeBSD LiveCD []. (Among others.)

        BSD has had a history of focusing on compactness. Something which evolved on the Linux side out of necessity rather than as a stated goal. I don't know what the size of a fully modern FreeBSD installation is, but a basic install used to be as little as 60 megs. Heck, I remember running a fully-featured desktop system off o

        • I'll comment your response, since argent didn't include links.

          FreeBSD have a lot of virtues, but you still haven't shown me anything that is even comparable to the small Linux distributions reviewed in this article. I see a lot of tools to make those Live CDs, but no effort to actually build a usable live CD for ordinary people. I might be wrong, please do prove me wrong.

          <prejudice+experience> This is the saddest part of *BSD, there's so many cool things, but so little will to make it accessibly. *BSD
          • I see a lot of tools to make those Live CDs, but no effort to actually build a usable live CD for ordinary people.

            The Fine Article isn't about LiveCD installs, so that's a bit of a red herring. CD drives have so much latency that about the only way I've found a LiveCD really usable as a desktop is if I'm running it in a VM from an ISO image on disk... and while some of these CDs are "liveCDs", they're not being used that way in the article.

            So setting that aside, if you want a big old KDE desktop running Fre
  • Xubuntu (Score:5, Informative)

    by thsths ( 31372 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @02:52PM (#23560069)
    Xubuntu is quite ok as a small distribution, but I think you would reasonably want 256 MB for it. Firefox 3 certainly uses a lot less memory than firefox 2, and that is quite important for me. And of course you need Adblock, because there is just way too much resource consuming Javascript out there.

    In general the start-up and shut-down process could be faster, though. I guess this is down to an the old laptop disk.
    • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @03:28PM (#23560595) Homepage
      I just installed Xubuntu 8.04 on that setup this weekend and it works OK. Hardly lightening fast feeling after coming off a c2d with 2 Gigs of RAM, but definitely usable. It's going into the guest room for, well, guests to use if they didn't bring a laptop of their own. Usually guests only need a browser, so it's perfect. If they need to print something, I've got networked printers.
    • I use Xubuntu 6.06 on a Celeron 500MHz, integrated intel video that seems to be dying, and 192MB of RAM...

      Far from lightning fast; boot up is about a minute. It also takes a fair 7 seconds to have my desktop working, but GAIM & Opera 9.27 are autostarted, and I'm using a Murrine theme... If I had a video card and was running XFWM with compositing it'd be quicker... But no room for that in a silly Dell computer.

      Overall it's very nice if you have enough RAM. Even though Xfce by itself uses 60MB according
  • NetBSD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lgbr ( 700550 )

    I use this [] NetBSD distribution. The download is about 63 MBytes, and runs incredibly smoothly off of an old 128 MB flash drive that I have laying around. It comes with X and the Ion3 window manager. Of course since it's NetBSD, it runs on damn near anything. Even more impressive, it detects all of the hardware on my Thinkpad T41, even my wireless. Need a new package? Grab the tarball from the pkgsrc repository, drop it onto the usb stick, and it'll be loaded at next boot.

    It's not easy to use for your typic

  • by masinick ( 130975 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @04:14PM (#23561409) Homepage Journal
    I think that DSL has a great niche working with really old hardware. The only distro I know of that is still actively being developed that is smaller than DSL is SliTaZ - very interesting, but very new.

    DSL has an old 2.4 kernel, an old Firefox browser, but you can count on it to work with old stuff.

    Puppy works with pretty old stuff, but really shines when you load it into RAM on equipment made within the past three years. Wireless support is something that Puppy handles better than DSL.

    Zenwalk has a relatively unknown, but fast package manager called Netpkg and a snappy implementation of the XFCE desktop. Derived from an earlier implementation of Minislack, Zenwalk comes out of a stable Slackware heritage. With a fast package manager and a fast desktop implementation, Zenwalk carves a nice niche out of the Slackware landscape.

    Arch Linux really is another distribution that once grew out of the Slackware space and has now come into its own with the pacman and AUR package management tools and the idea of giving you total and complete flexibility to build exactly and only what you want. It aims for simplicity rather than coddling the user with its own notion of ease of use. People really either love Arch Linux or avoid it for these very reasons.

    Xubuntu is an easy to use system with very current software from the Hardy Heron Ubuntu project, replacing GNOME with XFCE on the desktop. Good solid stable software with excellent wireless network configuration.

    TinyME is brand new, as far as a Version 1.0 implementation, but the project has been going on for a couple of years now as a community supported effort to provide lighter versions of the well regarded PCLinuxOS software. This one uses OpenBox instead of KDE. Like other PCLinuxOS systems, it really benefits from the good hardware detection algorithms from Mandriva and the solid packaging from "TexStar", expert RPM packager and founder of PCLinuxOS.

    As you can see, each of the distributions mentions has a nice niche. They won't all be appealing to everyone, but each of them is solid in several respects - certainly a credit to the modularity of both Linux and GNU software.
  • by temcat ( 873475 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @04:18PM (#23561469)
    A pity that the author didn't review these two. Not only they are they compact and snappy, but they also include the full-featured KDE desktop environment. I couldn't believe how fast they are when I tried them as LiveCDs - and they can be installed on HD, too!
  • Everybody has their own flavor for support but does anyone do this anymore besides LFS and the hardcore hackers?
  • Xubuntu Arch? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kevind23 ( 1296253 ) <> on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @04:40PM (#23561809) Homepage
    Sorry, but Ubuntu or any of its derivatives do NOT qualify as "lightweight". I find it amusing that Arch was rated towards the end of the list, most likely because they couldn't figure out how to install it.
  • I am an Archlinux user right now... but if you listed all these on the IQ test from yesterday, and asked me what doesn't belong in the group, I would right Archlinux. They compared X booting live-cd distributions to Archlinux. Maybe he should try FaunOS?
  • by imr ( 106517 ) on Tuesday May 27, 2008 @06:59PM (#23563781)
    You can find its wiki page here (With the download links): []

    Here is a review: []

    It's a community version but its package selection is in the official Mandriva tool to build LiveCD ( [] ) .
  • The thing is, you can just about beg for a (free) faster system (hardware). Even though I hate software bloat, there's no substitute for a faster hard drive, more memory etc. Running Puppy for speed on a new(ish) system; not slow hardware, is interesting. Yet, it all comes back to what you want. All these package management choices, while freedom, do not measure up (for me) to the deb based ubuntu system and packages. I prefer Kubuntu but Gnome is fine too. I've done the Xubuntu thing and I have zero use
  • I also like the greater hardware compatibility with an *ubuntu base. Use the alternate CD. *ubuntu base plus icewm is the lowest and best solution for 32MB to 256MB RAM. Sorry Fluxbox lovers. Yes, Flux is good too, it's just more "different" to me. I know it's because I'm used to seeing things a certain way and I don't care. I think most new users will like icewm ONCE thy realize, they can edit the simple text file to move stuff around on the task bar (etc..) Yes, you will have to tweak it a little more t
  • by NeoDot ( 639313 )
    Well, with 256MB I'd probably go ahead and do a custom tweaked Kubuntu. But before I'd do Xubuntu, I'd drop down to the *ubuntu base + icewm. For the pure speed of it. It can rival the speed of newly purchased systems! This is subjective but I'd further specify: less than 32MB I'd not bother (my choice). 32MB to 128MB icewm (on *ubuntu base) 128MB to 192MB icewm or maybe play with a Puppy live CD (but which one?) It would load into RAM! 256MB (maybe 192MB if shared video didn't eat it up) and up I'd ma
  • What if I only want to run Apache (well, let's future-proof that statement and say a full LAMP stack)? Keeping in mind the need to patch regularly to avoid security problems (and thus having access to a yum or apt equivalent; not source code), what's a lightweight distro you folks would recommend? I would want to run this in a VM, but I don't think that imposes any additional requirements.
  • One of the problems with many of the light distros is you load up a program and there isn't a quick nor obvious way to add the program to the "start menu"... Some do automatically, but most of the lighter ones you have to go searching... /bin..nope.. /sbin...nope...nope...not there... etc.

    I did a Xubuntu install recently and then loaded up many of the lighter weight window managers via apt-get to try them out ( I was going to do another install so I wasn't worried about borking the system). Enlightenme

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