Not particularly worried

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 πŸ™„ ) 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. πŸ˜‰

14 thoughts on “Not particularly worried

  1. Gullars

    I do agree with you here, while ubuntu may be something some people see fit to run on their overpowered machines that is something, but as you said, on a small lowpowered machine you just won’t get the performance that you want to use your pc.
    Since my japanese provider just manage to brake the logon to the net with wicd (!) I can’t connect through my arch system any more, and I run puppy linux from a usb stick, it works, but it is far from ubuntu, even though I can’t say that there is something that I miss from ubuntu, other than a package manager that makes a bit sense, I just wish that puppy could use pacman πŸ˜‰
    But it is a nice way to get to test out rox and jwm though πŸ˜‰

  2. mulenmar

    They’re finally dumping those old machines and focusing Ubuntu on the post-1995 world? About time.

    Leave older machines to the distros that can handle it, like Debian, Wolvix, and Arch is what I think. πŸ™‚

    Also, I have a Linux Mint machine with only 2GB memory, a single video card, and an Athlon64x2 5000+ that boots to GDM in 30 seconds. πŸ˜‰ Believe me, Linux Mint is like Jabba the Hutt with Princess Leia chained to him. More weight, even though it looks better. πŸ˜€

    1. Benj1

      actually arch is i686 only too.

      but i agree no one in their right mind is going to attempt running ubuntu on anything less than a 686 anyway.

  3. Nugnuts

    This particular discussion seems to be approaching the issue from the wrong direction, in my opinion. I don’t see much use in rationalizing the decision from the perspective of users, instead preferring to look at it from the perspective of the developers (who of course consider the users). It’s not about saying Ubuntu is unsuited for old hardware; it’s about the fact that old hardware is old, and growing less and less prevalent. One has to do a cost/benefit analysis to determine if it makes sense to support the older hardware. Indeed, it wasn’t worth supporting other hardware to Judd when he started Arch.

  4. DePingus

    I upgraded Ubuntu 9 to 10 on a Intel Core 2 Duo 7300 2.0 with 2GB RAM. Needless to say, I’m not a happy camper. This thing chokes! Now I’m looking for alternatives for a full blown desktop (other than Ubuntu 9)…

    1. Gullars

      Wow, that means my machine has no chance of running it, even though I’ve always thought of it as more than beefy enough, I have a weak core duo with 1GB ram, and I seldom use more than 2% of the cpu’s and maybe half of the memory, both with arch and puppy, I have a more flashy crunchbang running too with compiz standalone, but that too seldom goes over 700 Mb of ram usage.

    2. mulenmar

      Try a clean install, use ext4, and edit the /etc/fstab options to use ‘noatime’. I run Ubuntu 10.04 very happily on a NETBOOK with the Poulsbo chipset, for heaven’s sake.

    3. James

      Indeed? I have a similar setup and the thing flies. Some of the fastest boot times I’ve ever gotten from a graphical Linux distro. Might even be under a minute.

      Ubuntu has never upgraded between major versions well; I don’t even bother trying any more. The last time I did, I got something like what you’re describing. You might try starting from a clean install and using ext4 before looking elsewhere.

  5. poss

    yeah i noticed a difference between ubuntu 8.10 command line install with lxde & gdm and Lubuntu 10.04 onto a mmx 233mhz the 8.10 was less problematic on that particular machine. but really how many folk compute with an mmx anyway. same with powerpc, the architecture is pretty well dead so its no biggy development is dropping off.

  6. Pingback: The myth of Arch Linux and the i586 « Motho ke motho ka botho

  7. Pingback: Three recent thoughts « Motho ke motho ka botho

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s