I mentioned the other night that I have Slitaz running in a console-only arrangement on my Pentium; the setup time for that is immensely shorter than my first-place favorite Crux, with all the drive swapping and compiling, swapping and compiling, swapping and compiling. Just for my own reference, and in case someone else wants to try the same trick, here’s a short step-by-step for getting it done.
The first real consideration is that, by installing a full system, you are installing and setting up the machine for more than you really want. You’ll be installing graphical packages that, while they take up little space, actually become a tiny bit of an obstruction since they’re triggered or configured, and you have to un-configure or un-trigger them.
After doing this two or three times, I decided that the base flavor is good enough to get me started. I pulled the hard drive from the Pentium, transplanted it into another machine and booted that to the base live CD. You’ll be in a text-only environment, but don’t let that scare you.
I partitioned the drive with fdisk, giving only 2Gb out of 40 total to the entire system. I read somewhere once, a long time ago, that smaller partitions mount faster, and since the Slitaz manual suggests at minimum 200Mb for a full graphical system, that would be a good compromise between mounting fast and having plenty of space for leftover stuff. I can partition the remainder and mount it manually, if I actually think of something that needs that much space on a Pentium.
Similarly, I set the filesystem on the partition to ext2; I know Slitaz mentions ext3 in the installer, but I always feel a tiny lag on ext3 machines running at very low speeds. Sure, maybe it’s my imagination, maybe not. Oh, I almost forgot: a nice big 256Mb swap partition, to complement the 16Mb of actual memory I have.
Cue the text-based installer with
slitaz-installer. It will access the CD and ask you for the partition. Say no to the option to reformat, and set the hostname. Wait for the installation to finish, then install grub to the MBR, unless you have some sort of other quirky arrangement for your Pentium.
I usually go ahead and swap out the drive at this point, because I don’t have network access on that particular laptop from the base CD. In my case, I use an axnet-driven PCMCIA wired card to get online and start getting serious. In other words,
udhcpc can be a real brain-buster, if you’re expecting dhcpcd. The next step is to update against repositories, with
tazpkg recharge, and
tazpkg upgrade to anything that might be available. This is where I usually add linux-wireless and a couple of other kernel module packages, to flesh out an otherwise stellar Pentium experience.
Technically that’s as far as is necessary to go, if you want. There are a few things you might consider though, if you’re a little bit daring.
There are a few — not a lot, but enough to make a difference — packages in the cooking flavor (at the time of writing) that aren’t necessarily available to a base installation. Things like elinks, screen, mc and htop, all of which I consider to be mission-critical, are available if your release is set to cooking, instead of base, like it probably is at this point.
I have two solutions: First, install package by package, downloading them individually from the web site and plugging them into place. Not attractive.
The other is this: Once you have your console system more or less configured the way you want it, switch to the cooking release and install the software you’re “missing.” It’s an easy trick, just
tazpkg set-release cooking, and now you have quite a few more options available to you. And quite a few more upgrades, which tazpkg will show you as soon as you finish the switch.
It’s also worth scanning through which packages are already installed, with
tazpkg list. For example, this machine has neither a CDROM nor any USB ports nor a modem, so anything related to those technologies is a candidate for tossing out.
I think that just about does it. Everything after this point is going to vary according to your taste, and goodness knows there is more than enough console-based stuff out there to keep everyone happy. Don’t forget kbd, linux-sound, iftop, centerim and other stuff, according to your machine. Cheers and enjoy.