Wolvix 1.1.0 on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb

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

Part of my motivation in jumping around so much is to sniff out the general state of other XFCE distributions, in case I’m driven by a wild urge to ditch Xubuntu altogether, and move in a different direction. And since I have the spare machine, and since it’s a real stickler at times, this is an educational experience too. But mostly I think it’s interesting to see how other clans do business, and what kind of results they get.

To that end, Wolvix is a standout. I’m very happy with this one.

Moves fast(er) on this machine, keeps a low profile (although there is a fair shake of Gnome in there), and installed in a snap. Actually, I think the installer was easier than Ubuntu’s live installer. I know it was quicker to finish (but installed less, too). GPartEd handled the partition issue with the least of effort, and everything else fell into place.

Wolvix is the only distro thus far (aside from Xubuntu) to get my Xircom Realport PCMCIA network card online and working without a skip. A tip of the hat for that.

Wolvix has a GUI X configuration tool, and a nifty control panel for adding users, installing the OS, package management, configuring printers, sound … you name it. It’s kind of nice having an all-in-one control panel that handles common setup tasks. Of course, it might be smart not to include the hard drive install option on a system that already has Wolvix installed. … šŸ˜•

Default software is most of the stuff I like, plus a lot more. Audacious is included, as is EasyTAG, Exaile, gnormalize, Grip, Mplayer and streamtuner, as well as others. Graphics options include the omnipresent Gimp, plus mtPaint (which I happen to like), Inkscape, gtkam and a bunch more. Firefox, Dillo, gFTP, GPROFTPD, Gwget, Pidgin, Transmission … The Wolvix apps list reads like a who’s who of popular programs.

It’s impressive. And it’s attractive, and it’s smooth. I might be coming back to this one.

Performance-wise (on this machine at least), it’s coming in just under the Xubuntu-Zenwalk tier. Grub-to-desktop is in 1:45, which isn’t bad. I did notice that XFCE takes a little longer to orient itself under Wolvix, which might or might not be the fault of the desktop, instead of the distro. The login manager is SLiM, I believe, and it does a good job.

Firefox is up and running (and online, which is always good) in 17 seconds or so. That’s still very slow, but better than some. And of course, like all these times, they’re not first runs, and I don’t have any extensions in place.

Thunar opens in under nine seconds. A transparent xfce4-terminal needs a little over seven. Shutdown is over and done with in about 43 seconds, which is slower than most. That could be the fault of the framebuffer though; I allowed it to use the fancier default framebuffer console, and I can see the redraws on it, which suggests to me that it’s a bit bogged down.

For me, on this machine, Wolvix’s strong points are the easy installation, the quick(er) startup, the plethora of preinstalled software and the clean XFCE look. This would be a lovely Xubuntu, if Xubuntu wanted to be it.

It’s still not perfect for me, though. I’m being finicky, and I’ll admit it. I have a few more I want to try and compare, since I really think that it’s possible to get a complete distro that will run quick on this machine, and not have to build it up from a Feisty command-line install.

But we’ll see. There are literally thousands of options available, and I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d hate to see a real winner slip by just because I got tired of trying different ones.

(If you’re getting tired of watching me distro-hop, I apologize. Part of it is educational, I swear. This is such a funny little machine, I like to think I’m documenting my successes — and failures — for future reference. Even if they’re only interesting personally. šŸ˜ )

13 thoughts on “Wolvix 1.1.0 on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb

  1. duncan

    What about Hildon Desktop? Maybe you should try it since it’s optimized for low memory/slow systems. There are packages in the Gutsy repository.

  2. David

    Ok, so now that you say you are going to try Vector, and you’ve already moved through like 10 other distros, give Elive a shot. I installed it on a laptop similar to yours, only it had something like 192 mb ram. It booted nicely in just over one minute, ran smooth, and looked great. Since it’s a Debian-based distro hardware detect was great, it detected the pcmia wifi card I installed out-of-the-box. However, it did take a longer time to install than other distros I tried, but ended up running the best on the machine.

  3. Pingback: Vector Linux 5.8 on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

  4. Zlatan Kadragić

    You should try Wolvix with Fluxbox. That wm has smaller system requirements then XFce.

  5. Wolven

    Hey K.Mandla. Thanks for an interesting review.

    A few days ago I found and old discarded computer which I salvaged and restored to working conditions again. It’s a PII 400Mhz with 192Mb RAM and I had to try installing Wolvix on it to see how it would run on old hardware. To my surprise it ran pretty well, no speed demon of course, but decent enough. Firefox is pretty slow to start though.

    At first I ran the computer with an old ATi card using the VESA drivers. Needless to say the rendering was pretty slow using that, but after I installed an old GeForce2 card and got the NVIDIA drivers up and running things got much better.

    Though Wolvix is not intentionally designed for old hardware I think it’s very interesting to see ‘how low you can go’ before it becomes unusable. Like Zlatan Kadragić says in his reply. Give Fluxbox a go and see if you notice any performance increase. Just press F1 twice at the login screen (SLiM).

    Thanks again for the review and good luck on your future endeavors with the old box.



  6. tomiro


    I’ve also installed Wolvix on an older laptop with just 128MB RAM and it works very well.

    I did get a slight performance increase with fluxbox, but not enough to warrant not using the more feature-rich Xfce Desktop.

    I’m also getting about 1/3 more battery time when running Wolvix as opposed to Windows 98…I’m not sure why though?

  7. S.

    Wolvix is very good indeed but I think you will find a version of Puppy that will provide a faster, if less comprehensive desktop and detect all your hardware, especially if you can throw 256Mb of memory at it.

  8. Pingback: MEPIS AntiX on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

  9. Arnold L. Johnson

    Hi all,
    Just installed Wolvix Hunter, very nice inspite of the gray. Tried Puppy, liked it, but I needed a bigger dog. I was a little skeptical of anything good or recent coming out of Slackware, but Wolvix is smoking on my HP of recent vintage and I will load it on my old machine, no problem. I like having lower requirements even on the newer box.
    I am tossed between Xfce and Fluxbox. I do not miss KDE at all, my Kubuntu box is very jealous. I would like to see more desktop artwork in the Wolvix vein. Wolvix has all of my favorite Linux stuff. What is cool is that I can use the same Linux on the desktop and as a rescue disk or on a jump drive. I was thinking of making a “powerpoint” type presentation to show off Linux but I can pop in the Wolvix CD and WOW anyone.
    Another smallish Linux also Slack based is Goblinx, very flashy. In my final analysis I say that Puppy Linux proved to me that BIG Linux distros are overkill. Wolvix is in the sweet spot of being just right. The Slackware stuff tends to be faster it seems than other Linuxes, you think?

  10. Hasher Majoka

    I’ve been running Wolvix on a couple of old machines as well as in a partition in my new laptop and I must say its absolutely great on hardware vintage AND new. Ultimately this is what Linux experience is all about for me: getting the maximum performance from your hardware without sacrificing usuability and aesthetics. Anybody who has installed both Xubuntu and Wolvix can see what a superior experience Wolvix provides with just a little ingenuity.
    As well, I think the overall visual effect in Wolvix desktop is stunning without being flashy.

  11. Pingback: TinyFlux on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

  12. Thomas Clayton

    I was just looking for the most recent version of Firefox for Wolvix Hunter 1.1.0, when I saw a link (Google) to this page. I thought I’d compare experiences of others, to mine.

    I USUALLY use / advise PCLinuxOS for ‘newbies’ – which, with regard to Linux, I myself, still am. I happened to be ‘clea(n/r)ing off the 8GB HDD in a friend’s old Dell Dimension V400 before handing it over to another friend for REcycling (Unitec Recycling of Villa Park IL USA). (Don’t worry it WILL get re-USED ‘downstream’ not just torn apart.) I hadn’t tried the Wolvix since I’d gotten it last year from On-Disk.com – so I thought this would be a good time to. The Dell has a 400MHz PII, 512KB cache, 256MB PC-100 RAM and a RO-DVD drv. (The latter was one of the reasons for trying ANY Linux: I’d thought ALL my distros were on DVDs.) Anyway the install went smoothly – I fiddled with partitions more than I needed to – and reboot from HDD occurred just as one would desire. It hadn’t detected my monitor (Generic instead of Gateway EV910B) so I reset the video display properties to take good advantage of its capabilities. (I’ll leave the resolution at 640×480 x256 colors (enhanced VGA) so anyone who ends up receiving this won’t blow-up their monitor.)

    Performance? Just about like you describe. Slower than wrist snap response – some good few seconds before anything appears – but very tolerable in my opinion. (The question is: How spoiled are YOU?)

    Anyway, despite the fact that I’ve left /many/ questions UNanswered, I gonna leave this reply, as is.

    Now WHERE can I find Firefox 2.0.0.x (x= 12? 15? <-todays release)?


  13. Pingback: Linux Mint Daryna on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb « Motho ke motho ka botho

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