Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th May 2008 10:58 UTC, submitted by i386DX
Linux Abandoned Zone reviewed several lightweight Linux distributions, and concluded: "First of all it has to be clear that there's a difference between 'lightweight' and 'lightweight'. Especially Damn Small Linux is very lightweight, but also it's not really usable on 'more recent' systems. It think DSL is perfect for 486 or Pentium 1-based systems but nothing more. At the other side there are Zenwalk and Xubuntu which are pretty heavy lightweight distributions. I think the use of Xfce has something to do with that. All the others are floating between those two extremes."
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Onward to Adventure!
by B. Janssen on Mon 26th May 2008 11:24 UTC
B. Janssen
Member since:
2006-10-11

I appreciate the work that was put into these mini-reviews, although it requires more work to become really useful. Still, it is interesting what spectrum self-titled lightweights seem to fill ;)

Reply Score: 3

Draco GNU/linux
by vermaden on Mon 26th May 2008 11:51 UTC
vermaden
Member since:
2006-11-18

From the Linux distributions I would choose Draco GNU/Linux [ http://www.dracolinux.org ], because its most clean and BSD-like Linux out there.

featues:
-- NetBSD's pkgsrc.org as package management
-- OSS instead of poor ALSA
-- BSD init scripts (like in Arch Linux)
-- Configuration /etc/rc.conf (like in Arch Linux)
-- at the beginning based on Slackware Linux

Reply Score: 2

RE: Draco GNU/linux
by unclefester on Mon 26th May 2008 12:03 UTC in reply to "Draco GNU/linux"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Why not just use FreeBSD instead with a lightweight GUI? DesktopBSD gives you a fully configured KDE desktop and it is simple to install other window managers from the software packages.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Draco GNU/linux
by vermaden on Mon 26th May 2008 12:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Draco GNU/linux"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

Why not just use FreeBSD instead with a lightweight GUI? DesktopBSD gives you a fully configured KDE desktop and it is simple to install other window managers from the software packages.


I think that you did not get my point here ;)

I would always choose for my workstation FreeBSD or any other BSD instead of Linux, but if I would have to use Linux for some reason/thing that is not possible with BSD, like KVM virtualization for example (it is generally ported to FreeBSD but does not work well yet) then I would go with Draco Linux.

I just do not like all that Linux mess you know ...

I also not prefer KDE since I use something a lot more productive, Fluxbox + GTK2 apps to precise.

I would like to see PCBSD or DesktopBSD with Gnome or XFCE by default, byt that is a subject or other discussion.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux
by sonic2000gr on Mon 26th May 2008 14:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Draco GNU/linux"
sonic2000gr Member since:
2007-05-20

I would like to see PCBSD or DesktopBSD with Gnome or XFCE by default, byt that is a subject or other discussion.


I'd like to see one too. In fact I find it strange that both the "desktop oriented" variants of FreeBSD have chosen KDE as the desktop. I've tested both and they work fine for me, although KDE is not really my cup of tea.

Having said that, it is not difficult to create a custom FreeBSD CD/DVD with just the packages you need (e.g. xorg + XFCE + office apps + firefox etc). It would still need a few more manual configuration steps, but then FreeBSD users are used to this (and actually like it ;) )

I have successfully run FreeBSD 6.X on a pentium Pro (remember these?) 200Mhz with 64Mb RAM, using Windowmaker. Responsiveness was not bad at all.

Since the whole purpose of the discussion however is Linux and not BSD, I would second arch linux. After trying several different distros, this settled on my eeepc for good. Fast, efficient and 'simple', meaning you are always in control of what is in there.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Draco GNU/linux
by Peter Besenbruch on Mon 26th May 2008 20:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux"
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

Since the whole purpose of the discussion however is Linux and not BSD, I would second arch linux. After trying several different distros, this settled on my eeepc for good. Fast, efficient and 'simple', meaning you are always in control of what is in there.

It is fun watching the different distros adapting versions to the eeePC. Here the problem isn't so much RAM, the eeePC comes twice the RAM as the unit tested in the article, but disk space.

I've tried the Xandros that came with it, eeeXubuntu, Puppy, and Debian.

Of all the distro's that I tried, saying, "Debian" tells you the least about the resulting system. When I install, I put in the standard system with no X server. On reboot, I can install Xorg, something more minimalist, or stay with a CLI system. Along with the X server, you can install pretty much any window manager, or Desktop environment you want.

The current eeePC configuration is a basic KDE system with OpenOffice, plus a few other programs. The internal, 4 gig drive is 39% used. The home directory sits on an HDSD card.

For fun, I would like to see some of these distros tested with 128 meg of RAM. I've done it with virtual installations, and it is indeed possible to have a responsive system running Fluxbox (my favorite of the light weight window managers) and Firefox.

As for BSD, I woulld like to hear some input from people who tried installing it with limited machines. The BSD crowd almost by definition loves to tinker, and I would like to hear their results.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Draco GNU/linux
by Doc Pain on Tue 27th May 2008 06:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I'd like to see one too. In fact I find it strange that both the "desktop oriented" variants of FreeBSD have chosen KDE as the desktop. I've tested both and they work fine for me, although KDE is not really my cup of tea.


I'm glad you used quotations marks for the term "desktop oriented" FreeBSD variants. By their nature, the BSDs aren't oriented to anything, they are all purpose OSs. You can use them on servers and on desktops (as I do since FreeBSD 4.0), and you can use them for mixed forms (i. e. when your "desktop computer" is offering server functionalities).

Having said that, it is not difficult to create a custom FreeBSD CD/DVD with just the packages you need (e.g. xorg + XFCE + office apps + firefox etc).


The FreeBSD ports collection gives you the tools to achieve this goal, the installer (sysinstall) supports "local additions", that's what you're looking for. Furthermore, you can even create live CDs from a configured and running system.

It would still need a few more manual configuration steps, but then FreeBSD users are used to this (and actually like it ;) )


Hmmm... yes, Sir. :-)

I have successfully run FreeBSD 6.X on a pentium Pro (remember these?) 200Mhz with 64Mb RAM, using Windowmaker. Responsiveness was not bad at all.


Same here, too. One of my first (4.x) systems was a Pentium 150 MHz with 64 MB RAM, WindowMaker, mplayer, xmms and all the nice stuff. Another system that's still in use is my favourite 300 MHz P2 (5.x) with XFCE 3, OpenOffice and Opera. These systems run so well with their limited resources, but some of the Linux distributions that call theirselves "lightweight" won't even install on them.

Since the whole purpose of the discussion however is Linux and not BSD, I would second arch linux. After trying several different distros, this settled on my eeepc for good. Fast, efficient and 'simple', meaning you are always in control of what is in there.


From my experiences, ArchLinux is a great approach to the concepts you find in the BSDs, just as the older SlackWare was. If configured properly, it can result in a really fast and versatile Linux system.

Just for information: I like software that is "lightweight" - meaning: not short on features, but short on bloat - so I don't squander my system's resources just to please a fat toolkit that does nothing more than a similar application with, say, Gtk or Xaw. Usually, application evolution makes your system slower. I like the trend to go into the other direction. :-)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Draco GNU/linux
by madhatter on Mon 26th May 2008 14:39 UTC in reply to "Draco GNU/linux"
madhatter Member since:
2005-07-07

So OSS is an advantage? The only good reason for it, I could find, was that only OSS is supported by pkgsrc.
Never tried Draco though, but I'm eager to test it, as it's philosophy is similiar to Arch's.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Draco GNU/linux
by vermaden on Mon 26th May 2008 15:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Draco GNU/linux"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

So OSS is an advantage? The only good reason for it, I could find, was that only OSS is supported by pkgsrc.
Never tried Draco though, but I'm eager to test it, as it's philosophy is similiar to Arch's.


It's easy to find that that you do not even know the difference between OSS and ALSA ;)

Look at all that mess:
http://blogs.adobe.com/penguin.swf/linuxaudio.png

While in FreeBSD and Draco Linux you pass everything to OSS and EVERYTHING is mixed in kernel real time.

What Linux uses for audio? ALSA + GStreamer + ARTS + Esound + Pulseaudio and then finally touch sound card.

What does FreeBSD (and 4Front OSS) do here? APPLICATION --> OSS --> sound card, no unneded layers that create additional overhead and compatibility problems.

OSS is well documented (including API) while ALSA is one big mess without documentation.

Also let Ubuntu serve as an example here, which uses ALSA + PulseAudio, start Rythmobox and then start Wine, Wine does not have sound, start Wine at the beginning, Rythmobox does not have sound, because of what? Befause of ALSA.

I am sick and tired of all these sick ideas about ALSA, PulseAudio or any other shit that do not work.

I also do not understand why people jerk off so much about ALSA while not knowing its technical and functional disadvantages comparing to OSS.

OSS is also open source, it is avialable on GPL, BSD and even CDDL license if you use Solaris.

OSS is cross platform and works on all major UNIXes and Linux, while ALSA works ONLY on Linux.

ALSA is shit, but people just get used to that shit and are scared to hell to try something new, taht is a lot better and polished, but that is their problem.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux
by WereCatf on Mon 26th May 2008 15:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Draco GNU/linux"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

What Linux uses for audio? ALSA + GStreamer + ARTS + Esound + Pulseaudio and then finally touch sound card.

What does FreeBSD (and 4Front OSS) do here? APPLICATION --> OSS --> sound card, no unneded layers that create additional overhead and compatibility problems.


Wow you are soooo wrong it almost hurts :O

GStreamer is a multimedia framework, using OSS does not make the situation any different. Arts and Esound are both obsolete, they are not used at on modern distros. AND, again that has nothing to do with OSS or ALSA. Oh, and PulseAudio...well, PulseAudio is not driver. It's a layer that f.ex. allows network audio. I dunno if PulseAudio works with OSS though.

OSS is well documented (including API) while ALSA is one big mess without documentation.

http://www.alsa-project.org/alsa-doc/alsa-lib/ There you go. Sorry to break your bubble.

Also let Ubuntu serve as an example here, which uses ALSA + PulseAudio, start Rythmobox and then start Wine, Wine does not have sound, start Wine at the beginning, Rythmobox does not have sound, because of what? Befause of ALSA.

No, it's actually because Rhythmbox does use PulseAudio whereas Wine doesn't have PulseAudio driver. So, it is not actually a fault in either PulseAudio or ALSA, it's just because Wine lacks support.

I also do not understand why people jerk off so much about ALSA while not knowing its technical and functional disadvantages comparing to OSS.

Then let us hear them? Or were those arguments above those?

Reply Score: 9

v RE[4]: Draco GNU/linux
by vermaden on Mon 26th May 2008 17:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux"
RE[5]: Draco GNU/linux
by WereCatf on Mon 26th May 2008 17:42 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Draco GNU/linux"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

... layers, frameworks, call them as you like, yeah, create more layers its fun ...

You're missing the point here: GStreamer is used no matter which drivers you use. Yes, it is used also when you are running OSS. So, no points for you there.

Where network audio is useful when you just want to play sound on your box? Its totally useless.

For you. When some feature is not useful to you it might still be useful to many others.

Heh ;) paste a link do some alsa-doc does not PROVE that this documentation is good, it just exist, its not only my thought that OSS aPI is a lot better documented while ALSA breaks API every release.

You were claiming there exists no documentation for ALSA yet I proved you wrong. And well, your link doesn't prove OSS api is any better than ALSA api. And no, ALSA api doesn't break every release. Get your facts straight and stop spreading FUD.

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: Draco GNU/linux
by stabbyjones on Mon 26th May 2008 22:41 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux"
stabbyjones Member since:
2008-04-15

i agree and while i won't use alsa by itself by adding pulseaudio it's perfect.

install, configure to use pulse instead of alsa and you'll be able to run totem, rhythmbox, vlc and penny arcade adventures all at the same time.

it does get confusing though... Linux audio has come a long way and it works well.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Draco GNU/linux
by asdx24 on Mon 26th May 2008 23:28 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Draco GNU/linux"
asdx24 Member since:
2007-05-17

You don't need PulseAudio to do software mixing.

ALSA can do it just fine with DMIX.

Edited 2008-05-26 23:34 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Draco GNU/linux
by stabbyjones on Tue 27th May 2008 03:08 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Draco GNU/linux"
stabbyjones Member since:
2008-04-15

i'm aware using the dmix plugin in alsa but i've found pulseaudio is a lot better to use in a lot more than just software mixing for linux sound.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux
by diegoviola on Mon 26th May 2008 20:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Draco GNU/linux"
diegoviola Member since:
2006-08-15

ALSA > OSS

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Draco GNU/linux
by Havin_it on Tue 27th May 2008 02:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Draco GNU/linux"
Havin_it Member since:
2006-03-10

OK, here's what I (think I) know about m'own humble system.

I have ALSA enabled in my kernel. I have also enabled the oss-emulation modules that are part of it, but I've never seen them loaded.

I run KDE, but Arts is disabled in all KDE packages. It's not present on my system at all. Nor are GStreamer, PulseAudio or ESD.

Any application that makes sound of any kind, does so without any tinkering. Sound "just works".

That's my laptop. On my server, where no sound is made and I didn't even enable sound-support in the kernel, I still had to build Arts as a dependency of the CLI management app for my RAID controller.

Life is weird :/

Reply Score: 2

Comment by davidgurvich
by davidgurvich on Mon 26th May 2008 12:31 UTC
davidgurvich
Member since:
2005-11-13

I've been using FreeBSD7 for a little while on an older thinkpad T23 laptop. Everything is a little faster than a Debian install. Using kde3 I am able to powerup and be browsing wirelessly within a minute and a half. With Debian that would take a minute longer on the same machine. Additionally, all the troublesome components work better, suspend/resume and sound for example. The only 'flaw' is no native flash9 support, though flash7 works well.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by davidgurvich
by vermaden on Mon 26th May 2008 13:09 UTC in reply to "Comment by davidgurvich"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

It will propably work even faster if you would recompile kernel with SCHED_ULE since currently the default is SCHED_4BSD slower (but more mature).

SCHED_ULE will be default in FreeBSD 7.1 and its already default in snapshot releases on FreeBSD FTP.

Here you can clearly see the difference between ULE and 4BSD:
http://people.freebsd.org/~kris/scaling/mysql-freebsd.png

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by davidgurvich
by vermaden on Mon 26th May 2008 15:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by davidgurvich"
vermaden Member since:
2006-11-18

Voted down for adding useful information?

Its sad that OSnews.com is slowly becoming slashdot, full of blind fanatic Linux zealots that can not see anything other that their own beloved OS.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Comment by davidgurvich
by SlackerJack on Mon 26th May 2008 15:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by davidgurvich"
SlackerJack Member since:
2005-11-12

Well it's about "Review: Lightweight Linux Distributions" which has nothing to do with BSD and it's scheduler unless you think BSD is a Linux distro.

I've tried Puppy Linux and it's fast as hell, idea for doing simple stuff on your low end PC.

Edited 2008-05-26 15:47 UTC

Reply Score: 11

RE[3]: Comment by davidgurvich
by diegoviola on Mon 26th May 2008 20:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by davidgurvich"
diegoviola Member since:
2006-08-15

Linux > BSD

Reply Score: 1

Vector ?
by poohgee on Mon 26th May 2008 14:05 UTC
poohgee
Member since:
2005-08-13

Yes there are tons of lightweights out there - but where is Vectorlinux ? ;)

Reply Score: 6

v pclinuxos
by k.g.stoyanov on Mon 26th May 2008 15:00 UTC
RE: pclinuxos
by sbergman27 on Mon 26th May 2008 15:52 UTC in reply to "pclinuxos"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Yeah. I was wondering how long it would take for a PCLinuxOS cheerleader to show up with a tangentially related comment that says "PCLinuxOS is teh best!"

Making a pest of one's self is not a good way to promote a distro.

Reply Score: 9

RE[2]: pclinuxos
by k.g.stoyanov on Mon 26th May 2008 21:36 UTC in reply to "RE: pclinuxos"
k.g.stoyanov Member since:
2005-07-12

I just said what i think. Disprove me, mr.Malicious.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: pclinuxos
by sbergman27 on Tue 27th May 2008 00:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: pclinuxos"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Disprove me, mr.Malicious.

But that would defeat the purpose. I'm not anti-PCLinuxOS. What I am saying is that the Gentoo community, and the Mandrake community before them, learned that it is counterproductive to be too "in your face" all the time with the pride they have in their chosen distros.

I imagine that most of us secretly believe that the distro we use is better than what everyone else uses. But often it is best to express that belief sparingly, and in an understated way, for best effect.

Edited 2008-05-27 00:40 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by zizban
by zizban on Mon 26th May 2008 15:53 UTC
zizban
Member since:
2005-07-06

Xfce being light weight is mostly a myth; in the 3.x days it was but not it's memory usage is only 10-20 MB less than Gnome and KDE. It maybe "lighter weight" than those two. But light weight it aint.

You could build just as functional desktops with several components that would be far more light weight, like Fluxbox + Rox, or Icewm + Rox.

People need to say Xfce is "lighter than Gnome or KDE" rather than light weight.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by zizban
by Dryhte on Mon 26th May 2008 18:01 UTC in reply to "Comment by zizban"
Dryhte Member since:
2008-02-05

Heh ;)

I like XFCE because it's simple and still looks pretty and I find the way it works pretty intuitive. not because it's 'lightweight'.

I'm totally fond of the built-in compositor.

Edited 2008-05-26 18:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by zizban
by Doc Pain on Tue 27th May 2008 07:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by zizban"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Xfce being light weight is mostly a myth; in the 3.x days it was but not it's memory usage is only 10-20 MB less than Gnome and KDE. It maybe "lighter weight" than those two. But light weight it aint.


XFCE 4 is becoming a major player in the field of UNIX / LInux desktop environments, so it's got to catch up to what KDE and Gnome offer in terms of features. This increases the amount memory usage and system load, of course. Look at the early releases of XFCE 4, such as it has been included in FreeSBIE 1.1, and look at them today.

You're right, XFCE 3 is still one of my first choices for lightweight, easy to use systems, even for "newbies". It's not that bad, really.

You could build just as functional desktops with several components that would be far more light weight, like Fluxbox + Rox, or Icewm + Rox.


Yes, that would be possible. But many users seem to complain about missing consistency. Don't get me wrong, please: Just because I do not have any need for consistency as long as my system is fast and does what it should to doesn't imply that there isn't the possibility that there are real needs for UI consistency. If you have a desktop running applications utilizing toolkits from Xaw, Xaw3D, Gtk1, Gtk2, Qt, Tcl/Tk up to whatever, it's hard (or impossible) to get the same "look and feel" everywhere. I think it's just a question how much value you put on "look and feel", and how much on functionality.

People need to say Xfce is "lighter than Gnome or KDE" rather than light weight.


At least in my opinion, this is correct. The more you go back in application history, the more lightweight the applications get. And if you imagine that people are doing on today's PCs the same stuff that they did 5 or 10 years ago... well... :-)

Reply Score: 2

"Lightweight?"
by Yeti on Wed 28th May 2008 04:57 UTC
Yeti
Member since:
2005-07-11

FTFA:
CPU: Pentium 3 – 600 MHz
Memory: 256 MB
Hard drive: 10 GB

C'mon, the test machine wasn't old enough.

I wonder if any of those "lightweight" distros would even install and/or crawl on my 1997 Dell notebook (P1@150MHz, 32MB RAM, 1.2GB HDD). This beast runs Slackware 11 with 2.4 kernel just fine.

Reply Score: 2