Xubuntu 7.04 on a 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

Well, after an egregiously long time, I seem to have finally finished installing Xubuntu 7.04 on the World’s Ugliest Laptop, and the results are … well, I’ll let you judge.

Installation time was absolutely horrific. I started around 7 a.m. and the first attempt hung at package configuration. A second attempt seemed to be running at about a third of the proper speed, with the kernel installation sitting for a half an hour alone. I don’t know how or why the machine was so hesitant to get the job done; perhaps it was performance anxiety.

In the end, I decided to use the standard Ubuntu alternate CD to install a minimal desktop, add the Xubuntu alternate disc with apt-cdrom, then install the xubuntu-desktop metapackage over it all. In the business, that’s what we call a “workaround.” Except that my workaround didn’t quite work; some stuff failed to install, and as a result I ended up installing from the repositories.

And worst of all, my download speed seemed to be pegged at 20kbps all day, which means it took almost three hours just to get everything — 188Mb — into place. And then I had to wait for it all to install. 😦

For what it’s worth, a base install off the Ubuntu alternate CD took around 45 minutes. That seems longer than it should have been, but I might have been paranoid by that point. Boot times for a console-based system were around 1:10, which is about what I expected.

Booting from Grub, through GDM and all the way to the desktop takes almost exactly 2 minutes. Starting Firefox takes almost 15 seconds — and no, that’s not a first run, it’s a second or third run, with no extensions, and with the start page set to the on-disk help pages.

xfce4-terminal is a little more svelte than the Gnome terminal, and starts in under six seconds. Thunar is also a lightweight compared to Nautilus, and can open in about three seconds. The shutdown menu appears less than two seconds after I click the “Quit” icon, so that too is an improvement. Shutdown itself takes just under 30 seconds.

And all that with a 5400rpm hard drive.

I still have some deficiencies, but they’re not likely to get ironed out, because I have bigger and better plans for this laptop. For one, I don’t get a splash screen with the base install plus xubuntu-desktop. That, I assume is just some quirk of the installation method; I wouldn’t complain about it.

I had the same mis-set screen depth with this Silicon Motion SM712 LynxEM+, but again, that was easily fixed with a quick edit of the xorg.conf file. And strangely enough, my network card — the Xircom Realport RBEM56G-100 — seems to be behaving better. Maybe I kicked it just right this time, or maybe something in Gnome was harassing it and caused my connection and giving me grief.

There’s also something odd that I’ve never seen: error messages about an smbus — “ALI15X3 not detected,” or something — that appear when the kernel loads hardware drivers, and they suggest upgrading the BIOS. Of course, that’s not really an option for this machine, and I’m not about to run the risk of a mis-flashed BIOS on a computer that’s not mine.

There are other things, but they’re so minor that I don’t feel I should mention them. The point of this was to have something that I personally installed, that I can point to and say, “Yes, Xubuntu is faster than Ubuntu on an older machine. How much faster? Not enough for me.”

Next, a customized setup.

5 thoughts on “Xubuntu 7.04 on a 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb

  1. lucchox

    I have a similar laptop, a compaq presario 1692 with K6-2 450mhz , 192 mb of ram (because its the limit, i can put 320 mb and the bios show me thats ok, but the OSs takes only 192 , i dont know why) and a old 6GB Segate HD (runs at 11mb/s and if i put a new 5400rpms WD HD 60GB i have 11,6 mb/s so its a limit of IDE i think).
    Iam running debian etch with xfce as desktop(previusly i try xubuntu, zenwalk, slax, and others), its very fast if you compare with other distros but it is not sufficient for me, i need something faster.

    About the smbus error (ALI15X3 not detected) i have the same error with all kernels that i try, even with my own compiled kernels, the module need a address where load to be passed, so i doit but i get the same error, i think that maybe about this error i cannt get better results with a new 5400 rpms HD, because the IDE support 33MB/s so my HD must to runs at 26 MB/s like in other laptop does.
    If anybody knows i why to get the HD runs faster please tellme, i had tried hdparm with all combinations with out news.
    And i will be waiting for others post at this blog because like i say we have a similar laptop so if you get it i do it too.
    Thanks, and sorry about my english.

  2. Danny

    Did you dban the harddrive from the previous installation? If I’m reading correctly, you had Ubuntu on that machine before. I actually got the idea from you to wipe a harddrive before reinstalling, so I’m assuming you did wipe it.

    I got the iPod Shuffle. I think it will work better for me when working out, running, etc. The best thing is that it bookmarks, and syncs where I am on a podcast or audiobook. The only thing I regret is having to use iTunes. I know Rhythmbox and others will work with an iPod, but right now I need the podcast content more than spending time getting it to work with Linux.

    I’ve subscribed to three Network Security podcast for my Security+ class. Good podcasts. I think I might put them on my blog.

  3. Bob Hunter

    I have an old clunker desktop that I use for testing lite distros. 400MHz AMD K6-III with 512MB RAM. Beafanatix works well on this machine. Straight Debian works OK too.

  4. Pingback: IceWM and Ubuntu 7.04 on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

  5. Pingback: Fluxbuntu 7.10 RC on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

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