[clug-talk] Linux distro for older laptop?

Marcel A. Lecker volvox at telusplanet.net
Mon Jan 31 21:07:58 PST 2005

Hey Shawn!

I always had the best luck with SuSE for just plain getting stuff to
work. However, it will usually cost you a performance hit, even if you
trim it down to the bare minimum. 

VidaLinux is set up for higher end systems (i686+) if memory serves.
That might explain your problems.

I have found the Knoppix is usually quite responsive when loaded on the
hd (via the knx-hdinstall command) and it plays nice with wireless etc.

Neils' suggestion about Mepis is likely a good one. I haven't tried it
but have heard good things. I'd certainly give it a shot.

Recently I've tried Libranet:
And have quite enjoyed it. It is a little soft WRT wireless support, but
is otherwise a strong Debian based performer and perky on lighter

My favorite for quick and easy(er) light-weight installs is VectorLinux:
...but it is based on Slack, which will make maintenance a bit onerous.
Plenty perky though as it is put together with an eye to breathing life
into old hardware. They have two versions. Light and SOHO. SOHO 5 is in
the later stages of testing (RC-2). Could be nice. Thier RC-2 didn't
include PCMCIA so I was a little disappointed, but I suspect they're
still working on it. The older versions are pretty dated so I'm looking
forward to this one.

...For the truely adventurous there's this one:
http://www.vum.at/vum-box/ It seems like it hasn't been maintained for a
bit. It was originally set up as a light-weight OS for all those
486s/P1s headed to the 2nd/3rd world.

Now this is bordering on heresy for a Linux list, but there's a live BSD
disk with installer called FreeSBIE
I haven't tried it yet on a laptop, but it is certainly a nice effort on
the part of the BSD camp.

And yes there's always Gentoo ...if you have the time.


On Sat, 2005-01-29 at 19:04 -0700, Shawn wrote:
> I'm looking for a decent distro to put onto an older laptop (Acer TravelMate 
> 512DX), with only a 4GB drive.  The target system will be used for software 
> development, so will need a development environment.  It should also have a 
> graphical interface, but doesn't strictly need KDE or Gnome (though the base 
> files might be needed for some of the development tools - KDevelop for 
> instance).  The disto should be pretty lean, but still robust enough to 
> handle the above tasks.
> Thus far, we've tried Suse 9.2, VidaLinux (install failed), and Ubuntu (Live 
> CD - networking problems with it).  We'll keep trying things over the 
> weekend, but maybe someone will have suggestions for another disto well 
> suited for this laptop?  (NOTE:  This is NOT a call for a distro war.. 
> <grins>)
> Thanks for any ideas.
> Shawn
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