More distros at 150Mhz, both good and bad

Arch Linux isn’t the only thing I have installed or used on the Mebius, since I brought it home a week ago. I did a few trial runs with other distros and OSes, although not all of them were as successful as archlinux-i586.

  • Debian, oddly enough, mentioned memory errors after a network installation, and refused to boot. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the exact error message, so I don’t recall exactly what the problem was. I plan on trying this again sometime in the near future, mostly because Debian is one of the best start-from-scratch, intermediate level distros out there, and it runs on old, old machines like this.
  • Damn Small Linux in its last incarnation — 4.4.10 — worked perfectly, finding all the components and even getting online with help from the network configuration interface. I know it is long, long out of date, but it’s hard to argue with a complete, full color, native resolution desktop on the first try, on a machine that old. It’s still worth keeping around.
  • I thought Tiny Core Linux would also hit a home run, but oddly I was left at a command prompt and didn’t get much farther than there. I blame the graphics card for that, which might sound strange. But I know this Trident-based card is VESA 1.2 only, and it might be that Tiny Core is going straight to the framebuffer, which it can’t do. Ironic though that DSL works where its successor doesn’t.
  • KolibriOS, for the same reasons, was less than successful. While it booted and behaved more or less as expected, the video card was too outdated to make full use of that OS. Boot times from the floppy were about what I expected though, so there wasn’t much more to see than what I have already seen in the past.
  • Slitaz wouldn’t boot, but that’s my fault. I only have the full 3.0 version on disc, and what I probably needed was the loram revision. Even something as light and speedy as Slitaz needs a little space to get started.
  • Crux i586 has been the strongest contender yet, and amazingly I managed to put together a kernel that booted on the first try. I still have some issues to iron out — such as forcing the correct resolution to the framebuffer, because the kernel always jams 640×480 into it, and I want 800×600 — and memorywise it tells me it hasn’t got enough to build anything (which is possible). Your puzzle for today though, is to figure out how I get Crux onto it in the first place, since 32Mb is definitely not enough to load up the Crux i586 boot disc. ;)

I still want to try Puppy Linux, the correct version of Slitaz and a few other lightweight operating systems. As always, if you have suggestions, I would be happy to hear them. Next up is a small dose of heresy. :twisted:

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20 Responses to “More distros at 150Mhz, both good and bad”


  1. 1 gullars 2010/06/25 at 12:08 PM

    thanks for an informative post, I love hearing about experiences with different operating systems, and fiddling around with puppy I have manage to get a quite nice setup now, learned a lot from my arch setup before it couldn’t connect to the net yet :) it’s just that it isn’t that easy to get the software that you want without compiling, but I guess the same is the case with tiny core too ;)

  2. 2 devl547 2010/06/25 at 4:57 PM

    Hm.. Looks like we need to tune slitaz a little

    • 3 K.Mandla 2010/06/25 at 7:09 PM

      Not really. I don’t know if you’re actively seeking out the under-32Mb crowd or not. Let me try the low RAM version and see if it performs any better. ;)

  3. 4 H. Dumpty 2010/06/25 at 5:06 PM

    Are you sure you tried tinycore and not microcore accidently?

    • 5 K.Mandla 2010/06/25 at 7:11 PM

      Yes, unfortunately. I have used this disc in other machines and it seemed to work okay. I really think this is a situation where the video output falls outside what Tiny Core can do in its minimal space, so I don’t fault it for that.

      • 6 Joseph George 2010/06/25 at 8:16 PM

        After tinycorelinux dumps you on the shell prompt, have you tried xsetup.sh? Once configured startx should bring X up. My old laptop boots up very fast into X with tcl. I also use the boot option vga=771. Dunno, if that might help.

  4. 7 ajlec2000 2010/06/25 at 10:20 PM

    I do rather like Puppy. Please post your experiences with trying it should you do so.

  5. 8 gullars 2010/06/25 at 11:44 PM

    I would think that puppy probably won’t run too well though, it’s more based on running on 128mb ram or more, but there is probably some way around it, that being said, it’s a really nice distro :D

  6. 13 oldcity 2010/06/26 at 4:57 AM

    Try Debris Linux though it too is based on
    Ubuntu 8.04. Runs fine for me on an Emachines
    T1090 w/128 RAM.

  7. 14 mrreality 2010/06/26 at 9:08 AM

    I have a old Toshiba 2535cds with a pent mmx@.300 mhz and 96 megs ram that I actually bought after reading here for a couple yrs to mess around on, and Ive tried several “mini”distros all of the above except the crux for a 586(grabin it now never knew there was one)and so far the only one that runs acceptable on it is puppy.

    I use for e mail-and listening to music mostly
    (plus with only a 30 watt power supply saves a lil $$ as well as a lil space in a land fill)
    but may try out a few of the games(dialbo all of them owe me like probably 3 years of my life back) kmandla that you mentioned above.

    (i tried out e links on my ubuntu machine to see if i could tolerate a minimalistic experience and couldn’t ,sorry)

  8. 15 Vee 2010/06/27 at 12:19 PM

    try Deli Linux
    It is made for machines this old and it is the best for this purpose
    http://www.delilinux.de/

  9. 16 mrreality 2010/06/28 at 2:59 PM

    The deli link’s except for main page are gone even on distrowatch

    • 17 stesie 2010/06/29 at 7:19 AM

      only delilinux.org seems to be broken, and the .de site links to .org. but if you replace the .org by .de again and again, the content is accessible …

  10. 18 raymond300 2010/11/04 at 9:20 AM

    What about remastering tiny core linux, with xvesa instead of x.org?


  1. 1 Good but bad: Slitaz at 150Mhz, 32Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/09/20 at 9:02 PM
  2. 2 I must work harder: DSL at 150Mhz, 32Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/10/12 at 8:51 AM

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