Distro-hopping notes

I had a lot of time available to myself over the past week, as you might have guessed by my relative proliferation of posts. Some of that time was spent distro-hopping, although I had plenty more things to write about than just the flavor of the day. For future reference, here are a few of the distros and tools I had the chance to experiment with, in the past week.

  • Out of curiosity, I downloaded the Debian-Hurd ISO and threw that into my system. Results were mixed; it would start but couldn’t find the external DVD drive, and I had my doubts about a lot of the other hardware on this machine. I may try it out on another, older and more “established” machine, but I have a feeling I would be sacrificing in other directions (no PCMCIA support, I think) so I might not get much farther than that.
  • The latest version of FreeNAS, on the other hand, works beautifully on the X60s, which is actually a bad thing. I would like to run a machine with FreeNAS constantly (and probably ought to), but that’s the fastest machine I have and the one I need for other purposes, like compiling or distro-hopping. ;) It works great and is probably a fantastic computer for that situation … but it is otherwise engaged.
  • This one is not really a distro; boot managers are always helpful to have around, and PLoP Boot Manager is a very good one, for what I have seen of it. I used it to trick the NEC Celeron into booting to a USB stick a few days ago, which it otherwise can’t do. It was ignored by the Thinkpad, interestingly enough. But that machine has always been a little finicky about its startup, and so I wasn’t surprised that it hung with a blinking cursor there. No demerits for PLoP.
  • ttylinux is the distro I would be using, if I was really fanatical about trimming away everything. Starts up lightning fast, takes up no space, and works like a standard, regular, modern Linux distro with no cut corners. The available prepackaged software is so slim that I can guarantee you’ll be building your own. But on the other hand, if that style appeals to you (and in many ways it appeals to me too) you probably won’t mind building a few applications for your own use.
  • Xubuntu deserves more attention than I am giving it here, and to be honest I will probably be coming back to it in the near future. My neighbor’s 2.2Ghz Celeron is now running it, and the word is that performance is night-and-day between that and Gnome Ubuntu. Perhaps Xubuntu has unwittingly dodged the memory-hog bullet that hit its pure-Gnome cousin. I’ll have to investigate more later; my experiences with it this week were exceptionally short-lived and too superficial to make an assessment.
  • Last but definitely not least, Slackware. Ah, Slackware. Slackware is the distro I really want to like, but every time I use it I am frustrated and befuddled and left feeling like a newb again. My run-in with Slax the other day was both the cause and the effect of trying out Slackware 13: I started with the Slax ISO, decided I wanted to build it from scratch with Slackware, became frustrated and then went back to Slax again. I know I need to try harder on this one; I shall have to look for some sort of howto that illustrates how to start at the command line and build up to a graphical environment, because that’s what I ultimately would like to do with Slack.

That’s about it for now. I have more on my list to try, but I might have to wait for another week-long national holiday to get enough time to put them into motion. :|

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11 Responses to “Distro-hopping notes”


  1. 1 Nobody Important 2010/05/08 at 12:39 PM

    I loved Slackwere for the bit of time I played with it. However, I did install the GUIs and X from the DVD (Fluxbox, in stunning form) along with Firefox and some other nice apps. Everything not on the DVD was an easily compile away – though all of those Dev libraries made the distro pretty heavy size-wise for a simple fluxbox environment. I think it used about 30 MB of RAM on my monster laptop with Firefox running.

    I haven’t the slightest clue how to set up X without the DVD though. It was all automatic for me. This is my greatest barrier in the way of my using Arch, as well – X continues to baffle and simply not run, no matter what config files I tweak.

  2. 2 Jan 2010/05/08 at 8:19 PM

    If you want an experience try Plan 9.

  3. 3 Brian 2010/05/08 at 8:27 PM

    Any plans to try the new debian based version of crunchbang?

  4. 5 Duncan_Idaho 2010/05/09 at 12:14 AM

    As a Slackware enthusiast I’d like to recomend SalixOS to you.
    Salix is a xfce-based slackware derivative, but it is 100% backwards compatible with Slackware. the installer offers you the options of a full desktop install with many applications, a basic install which is just the desktop environment and the web browser, and a core installation which is a minimal no-X installation.
    I’ve been using it since last year and I love it.
    If you like lightweight xfce-based distros you should give it a try
    http://www.salixos.org/wiki/index.php/Home

  5. 6 spc 2010/05/09 at 4:52 AM

    @ Nobody Important
    “I think it used about 30 MB of RAM on my monster laptop with Firefox running.”

    You mean cold boot??
    How did you do that, mate??
    Slackware 13 ??
    Default kernel??
    With firefox 3.5 running?? Wow …
    Got any tips??

    @Duncan_Idaho
    And don’t forget about Zenwalk – Imho -best Slackware derivative…
    Vector is also nice…

    • 7 Nobody Important 2010/05/10 at 9:44 AM

      I’m pretty sure. I could be wrong. I didn’t really modify anything, which now that I think about it makes the story seem far less plausible than it did when I posted it.

      Then again, I browse Firefox with images off and often using Instapaper or Google Reader, so you can imagine how Firefox’s memory usage isn’t that high.

    • 9 K.Mandla 2010/05/10 at 6:31 AM

      Stay tuned. … ;)

    • 10 poss 2010/05/11 at 9:17 PM

      2 nights ago i did a clean command line install off an ubuntu intrepid alternate disc, then just installed Xorg and Lxde after. It was a slow process (or) but the results seemed pretty good (233Mhz MMX) I think also in the latest ubuntu lxde has its own display manager not gdm so thats worthy of a suss. Tonight i might try much the same but use a debian base instead.


  1. 1 Links 10/5/2010: Loads of GNU/Linux Gaming News, Mandriva Rumours | Techrights Trackback on 2010/05/11 at 6:29 AM

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