I noticed a few weeks ago that there would be no support for pre-i686 machines in Ubuntu 10.10, and to be honest, I had no reaction. And a short while ago, when bug reports started showing up on Launchpad about incompatibility with new i586 systems, I was likewise nonplussed. And even now that the issue is getting a little more attention, and a few possible solutions are being discussed, my level of interest is hovering somewhere between “meager” and “mild.”
That might sound odd coming from a person who uses a true Pentium as the main system in the house, and relies on that 14-year-old computer to do everything (short of watching movies or writing to DVDs ) every day.
But really, I’ve installed Ubuntu in earlier releases on the same machine, and the results are likewise “meager” or “mild.” Ubuntu doesn’t stand as a contender in my book when discussing alternatives for hardware from a dozen years ago. Even in its sparsest forms, the sheer chunk of Ubuntu x.xx discounts it from much of anything before a Pentium III, in my humble opinion.
So if the Ubuntu party train stonewalls the pre-i686 crowd, I really don’t see any problem with that. It’s rather like saying my VCR won’t read DVDs. I wouldn’t consider putting a DVD in my VCR anyway. It’s not a very good idea.
Of course, there are some real repercussions to that choice, and one of them is the slew of low-power devices — not least of which is the OLPC — which are suddenly out in the cold if their owners want to run Ubuntu on them.
But then again, I owned an OLPC, and to be honest, I wouldn’t put Ubuntu on that either (I did, with only lukewarm results). There were a lot of things to like about the OLPC, but my first choice in a distro for a little green machine would not be the purple, orange and black behemoth. I can’t speak for every i586 device out there, but for some reason, the idea of Ubuntu 10.04 on an OLPC conjures an image of Jabba the Hutt riding a bicycle. …
I’m one of those people that believes there are distros that are well suited to some hardware, and there are distros that are ill-suited to certain hardware. If you’re running a new quad-core system with a full 12Gb of RAM and dual video cards then you might be able to boot Gnome Ubuntu 10.10 in under a minute.
But if you’re running something slower than that, you might want to consider downscaling to something a little more sane. There are plenty of options for software to match your hardware, and I would suggest something that allows you to not only avoid the incredible bloat that comes with Ubuntu, but also allows you to take advantage of the power your machine has. It works for me.