SliTaz 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.

I’ve been getting a lot of links back to an offhand post I made about three months ago about SliTaz, but I realize now I never really “reviewed” that distro, if you can call these random notes “reviews.” Since I have the ugly laptop on hand for Hardy testing, I thought I’d give it break from suffering under Gnome and allow it to run an ultralight system.

And those are the best words for SliTaz — both “ultralight” and “system.” One of the beautiful things about this teeny little distro is that it all fits in under 25Mb. Now that’s ultralight.

But it doesn’t skimp at all. You get all the major applications you would want from a full-figured distro — yes, even Firefox, although I abhor it still — and enough secondary utilities (like Web servers, bittorrent clients and so forth) and tertiary utilties (like a toolchain) to at least build the ones you don’t get. There are even composite effects, with handy shortcuts in the menu to manage them. And all that in half the space of a business-card CD.

So don’t assume 25Mb leaves you at a terminal prompt. This is, in every sense of the word, a complete system, with enough software to mollify even the most finicky Linux user.

And a lot has been added just in the three months since I first tried it. Early versions I used didn’t support a lot of higher screen resolutions, but now I can use SliTaz on my Inspiron at 1600x1200x16 as well as 1024x768x16 on the ugly little laptop (the best it will do). (I don’t know if there are many exotic resolutions it can handle; you’ll have to test your own machine and see what happens.)

SliTaz is not MachBoot, so there’s a little more time required to start. This is mostly spent arranging the keyboard, video and audio components, which means that it’s probably a good thing. And prearranging a live system is nothing new — Puppy Linux does that, and DSL also requires a little premeditation, albeit mostly at the boot line.

Performance on the K6-2 is quite good. Start times are around three minutes, which includes the time it takes me to select the appropriate configuration and tap the enter key twice, to sign in. That’s not bad for a live CD — remember that I’m working from a 24X CDROM, on top of all the other shortcomings of this machine. Just the initial kernel load can take 20 or 30 seconds. 450Mhz was a long time ago, friends.

JWM is still the window manager, with LXPanel added by default — they work well together. I will probably always be partial to Openbox, but JWM is a good choice for me. And LXPanel, as well as GPicView, are perfect for this system. They look good, work fast and don’t weigh things down.

You can install SliTaz to a hard drive — I didn’t, mostly because one of the nice things about working with a memory-resident system is that there’s no penalty for using an old hard drive with crappy performance. Firefox can ignore the 4200rpm drive and start as soon as it rolls out of bed … which is about 13 seconds, believe it or not. 🙄 Other applications are also quicker, with a terminal opening in a fraction of a second, and emelfm2 (one of two available file managers) in less than a second or two. Shutting down takes less than 12 seconds on this machine, and yes, that’s quite good.

The scary part about working with distros of this “mini-tude” is hardware support, and the scary part of hardware support is networking. With video you get the fallback options usually, but networking support is either there or not … with very little in-between.

Lucky for me, SliTaz likes my Xircom card now (thanks guys), and all I needed to do to get the network running was to make sure the PCMCIA bridge had a module inserted, and the interface showed up in ifconfig. From there SliTaz has a handy network configuration box, which had it up and online in seconds.

There are a lot of little perks like that in SliTaz — perhaps the developers are taking the hint from Puppy, which tries to make as many ease-of-use popup boxes as it can (which I like, actually), or maybe it’s just more intuitive way. Regardless, it’s convenient to have a mount box, a network box, and so on.

As a final note, package management is done through a nifty little utility called tazpkg, and if you’re familiar with apt from the command line, or maybe pacman or even prt-get, it’s a breeze to use. Packages are stored at TuxFamily (home to the current Ubuntulite incarnation as well), and I had no difficulty upgrading one package (Firefox — wouldn’t you know it?) from there. And there’s lots more software to pick from, if you want to try some new stuff.

This is easily my favorite live CD now. I admire DSL for being versatile and fast, and I do like the way Puppy Linux has evolved. But it’s hard to beat a pretty, usable, complete system that ducks under the 25Mb mark, and does it so well. Fatter distributions (and I’m thinking of Xubuntu, et al., here) would do well to notice how much can be done with so little.


18 thoughts on “SliTaz 1.0 on 450Mhz K6-2, 256Mb

  1. Dr Small

    I downloaded SliTaz awhile back when you mentioned it before, and I adore it. It worked slick it VirtualBox. Now I just need to find time to waste a 700MB disc for something so small 🙂

    Or maybe, I could find one of those 75MB discs that are laying around here somewhere 😉

    Dr Small

  2. oldcity

    Downloaded the latest Slitaz-1.0.

    Have been most impressed. Only used on generic w/128MB RAM as LiveCd
    and a generic w/512MB RAM.
    On the 128 machine it was a flyer. Hope to install this weekend.
    All programs worked.
    On the 512 machine it also flew but, that was expected.


  3. Pankso

    Hi K.Mandla,

    Realy nice review! Mybe you would like to try the prebuild Openbox flavor, comming with Obconf, hsetroot and PCmanFM, if so:

    # tazlito get-flavor openbox
    # tazlito gen-distro
    # tazlito burn-iso

    – Christophe

  4. davemc

    What is the primary goal of this Distro aside from just being less than 25mb? Distro’s like Ubuntu or PCLos are much bigger, of course, because they must support a huge variety of systems/Platforms, and do it well. They largely succeed at this. For example, I can install Ubuntu on a P3 system with 512M Ram with a bluetooth USB Keyboard and Mouse, 19″ Monitor, and wireless network, and it picks it all up right out of the box with absolutely NO tweaking required on my part at all. Can the same be said of SlitaZ? What about package selection? Can I use the Debian or Ubuntu repo’s?.. What about Multimedia support – Flash/Java, Codecs, etc.? Will I have access to a precompiled Wine package somewhere, or will I be forced to compile source Tarballs for all but the most common of apps?

    Lots of unanswered questions remain. These are questions which have already been tackled by PuppyLinux and DSL, and handled well I might add. Leaves one wondering, “Is this just another project that diverts much needed developmental assets needlessly?”.

    1. Asif


      Slitaz is THE FASTEST Linux I have seen so far that runs on the bare minimum of hardware resources. That has prompted me to think about developing custom/optimized/small-size apps for this distro – though I am also considering another recent option. It really can be used for as a quick-to-deply front-end OS running fast/optimized/small/like-a-bullet front-end client apps for back-end databases. More bigger-sized USB sticks can be used for client-side storage if that’s is important. Further, if client-side hard-disk is not working then it can be used as an emergency turn-key solution – better still, it should be used if the front-end app can be optimized to a small-size. One even thinks about developing a custom office app for a distro this small and this fast. It picked up my DSL connection like a cinch and gave me more than double the performance than what I was getting on Windows! At least, I can use as a super-fast OS for just browsing the Internet for enjoying a very good browsing experience.

  5. fstephens

    Very impressive little distro. Comparing it to Ubuntu though misses the point though. I use Kubuntu on my main machine, but appreciate the efforts and achievements of DSL, Puppy and now Slitaz in running on low-spec hardware.

    They are just plain fun! But they are not a replacement for the “mainstream” distros who have much greater developer resources, larger user community, etc. I plan on using one of these mini-distros on an old 500Mhz K6-2 machine, but I wouldn’t recommend any of them to the “average” user.

    I think Slitaz has too many shortcomings to make a non-technical user happy. One is lack of documentation (both online and built in)- no man pages?! Lack of hardware support – didn’t work with an old generic Linksys wireless card (orinoco_cs module) that every other distro I can remember found OK. In fact it didn’t even initialize the cardbus slots automatically.

    Don’t get me wrong-I like Slitaz allot and it’s shortcomings are forgivable I suppose due to it’s tiny size – IF that is important to you.

  6. Anon

    It’s early days for this distro and a lot of work has to be done yet, but I guess the primary goal is having the freedom to choose.

  7. zoltan

    This distro has mutch potential, and still growing – under heavy development. Give time to the developers, and pay attention for it, could be a great hit – “big guys” are almost using servers to run hype-shit 3d graphics, and the reformed “winlinuxes” on few dvd installer.

    Well, Slitaz not needs sutch – it tries to fufill your needs under big scalability, down to 16 Mbyte RAM where you could also boot the system, up to the freedom of your choiced software, what you want use and carry anywhere on a simply, but not crippled or ugly desktop.

    Ps. I say, if the developers keeping this distro on this road – where performance, and low resource needs with fast scalability are on first place, I think it could became the dream of admins, and hell lots of lightweight distro lovers with a willing of speed, and productivity.

  8. fstephens

    Anyone know how to get a Linksys WPC11 wireless card working in Slitaz? I think it uses the orinoco_cs module, but it’s nowhere to be found.
    It works on all other distros I can remember. Since it’s quite old and common, I would think it would work in Slitaz too.

  9. KC

    Hi, I had test Slitaz for a while and found it good and with well performance. However, if you use the live cd or a frugal install in the harddisk, no setting was saved. I hope it could do it as like Puppy Linux does.

  10. kode

    I’ve tried to configure wifi on Slitaz 2.0, but to no avail.
    Can anybody shed some light on the process?


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