The short stack

I’ve been stacking up test systems these days, in anticipation of the Mebius finishing with its “stress test” of the CF card. It’s still running, believe it or not, with no errors or problems to report.

Half of these don’t have a snowball’s chance in Helechawa of actually running at 150Mhz on 32Mb, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

On top of that, I don’t expect the remaining half to know what to do with that Trident video card, the one that is trapped at VESA1.2, and needs a particular sort of coaxing to actually work.

Most of these are installed via Qemu, but a couple I actually booted into a live environment, then installed to USB disk and copied to a file with dd. In any case, this is the short stack, if I can call it that. In no particular order …

  • Feather Linux, which is a little outdated but should be possible.
  • Linux Mint Fluxbox, which is an extreme long shot, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
  • TurboPup, which is another possibility, and was a bit of a trick to install. That and TeenPup seemed like options; TeenPup wouldn’t install though because of package errors.
  • Ubuntu 10.04, as a text-only system. This is mostly to see if it will start at all, and I have my doubts.
  • Ubuntu 6.06.1, as a comparison to the above.
  • TinyFlux 1.0, which is also dated, but intended for i586 machines and might do the trick.
  • Slackware 3.3. I don’t know why. It just sounds crazy.

A couple of others sounded like good ideas, but aren’t as appealing because of size issues.

  • Vector Linux, which sounded like a good idea but wants about 6Gb to install and that makes it unappealing.
  • grml, which is “text-oriented,” if I can say that, but also wants a rather large space. I’ll try a smaller version, maybe.
  • Lubuntu 10.10 alpha. But Ubuntu 10.10, if I remember right, is i686-only so it won’t matter if it works at such low specifications.

Of course, it will be a few days before I can try to mess with any of these. The Mebius is at 68 percent completion and it will need a bit more time before it’s done. I am patient. 😀


7 thoughts on “The short stack

  1. Calvin

    From what I heard, the minimal installer refuses to start on 64 MB, so no.

    I can get the netinst for Debian 5 to start on 64 MB though, but I have a fear of the partitioner.

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  3. LM

    There’s INX ( if you want to try out a text based version of Ubuntu, but it’s not the latest version. I keep seeing a lot of recommendations for Tiny Core Linux, but I haven’t tried it myself because it says some hardware not completely supported. I keep wondering how FreeBSD stacks up against the various versions of Linux on lower resource systems. I’d love to see some statistics and comparisons. I found video playback faster on FreeBSD, but I was comparing programs that run using X Windows. Maybe a framebuffer solution for playing videos would be faster on Linux and FreeBSD doesn’t appear to have good support for the framebuffer. I’ve also been experimenting with FreeBSD’s Linux emulation layer. You can take programs built for a Linux machine such as Debian and if you copy all supporting libraries over some of them will run on FreeBSD as well. Might make a good solution for sharing compiled software across different machines.

    Look forward to hearing the results of your investigations. I’m currently debating on whether to try another Linux distribution on my own laptop or leave FreeBSD on it. Will be interested to see what operating systems/distributions still work in 32 MB RAM.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Thanks for the notes, LM. I’ve tried INX and liked it a lot; I actually stole their installer script a couple of years ago to use with my own rotten little live CD. 😈

      I do like Tiny Core, but last time I checked it was a bit difficult to get online with something like a PCMCIA wireless card. I’ll check again though.

      I really want to get into the BSDs, but the issue I face is time, really. I’ll have to look into the emulation layer though; that could solve some problems for me.


  4. Theo

    @LM, there are newer versions of INX in the ‘devel’ section. The last time I looked the latest was an Alpha version of Lucid.

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