Linked by Walter Kruse on Thu 8th Jan 2004 06:55 UTC
Linux It seems that I am in some sort of retro-mode. As Linux on the desktop is getting bigger and better, with more apps, more sleek looks (Galaxy, Keramik and Blue Curve for example) and more idiot proof, I am going onto simpler, more condensed stuff. The big distributions are nice, but I really do not need all the applications that come with them all the time.
Order by: Score:
Keramik Sleek? *Barf*
by Luckett on Thu 8th Jan 2004 07:04 UTC

Keramik might be the ugliest thing i have ever seen. It's the reason why i have never given kde a chance.

Re: Keramik Sleek? *Barf*
by alspnost on Thu 8th Jan 2004 07:52 UTC

Umm, so use a different theme then? KDE comes with lots of them; Plastik seems to be the leading choice now, and will be included in 3.2.

Main distro
by Andrew on Thu 8th Jan 2004 08:55 UTC

I think it's a risky business proposition to run the "0.x" release of any distro in a production environment. If the reviewer really wants a slick and fast OS, maybe he should pick a distro that has passed the 1.0 stage (Vector, Crux, ...).

Re: Main distro
by Anonymous on Thu 8th Jan 2004 09:07 UTC

I think it's a risky business proposition to run the "0.x" release of any distro in a production environment. If the reviewer really wants a slick and fast OS, maybe he should pick a distro that has passed the 1.0 stage (Vector, Crux, ...).

Version numbers are completely arbitrary, especially in Open Source Software. 1.0 does not a stable release make. From my experience, most commercial software houses inflate their version numbers and release too early, while most open source projects deflate their version numbers and release very high quality software.

An excellent example of this would be GAIM, which is currently at 0.74 and has been quite stable since the 0.5x series.

I think as long as the distro is adequately tested prior to usage in the production environment it should be fine to use no matter what version number it has.

by anonymous on Thu 8th Jan 2004 09:20 UTC

the slit is just a place to run windowmaker dockapps, go grab the wmfire and wmMatrix dockaps for some eyecandy.

Quality review thank you
by gavin denby on Thu 8th Jan 2004 10:00 UTC

Ahh pure quality.

Informative clear and well documented of what you have and used.

Thank you for a clear idea of what there is.

I have a p200 that I was looking at reviving. DSL and Feather are on the live cd test plans as is deli. But my one concern is the lack of package manager. It would be a nice touch if these were compliant with apt-get, after all not all software is as easy to install as open office.

But a great review. I will be looking deeper, and thanks to your comments I know where to look.


RE:  Quality review thank you
by anon on Thu 8th Jan 2004 11:52 UTC

If you want apt-get, just use straight Debian. Then "apt-get install (your wm here) ted sylpheed dillo ...etc" I have a AMD 400MHz running Debian with XFCE4 and it is more than usable - even speedy, so if you went even lighter with a 200MHz (say twm ;) just kidding) you should have a fast enough desktop.

Good article
by Smartpatrol on Thu 8th Jan 2004 12:58 UTC

I too have been concerned with the amount of bloat linux is gathering as it goes on. My linux distro of choice (for various reasons) Redhat has balloned into a 4+ Gig install with everything. I don't really have the patience to go through each bundle grouping to get rid of the software i will never use. This is why NetBSD has been my new favorite OS for some time. Full X86 bootable image on a 3" CDR is nice to have. I am glad to see this apporach to linux.

by Anonymous on Thu 8th Jan 2004 14:27 UTC

I hate reviews w/o screenshots.

by Anonymous on Thu 8th Jan 2004 14:34 UTC

I hate screenshots without a review...

by Anonymous on Thu 8th Jan 2004 15:14 UTC

It's not that you don't know the password, but there is no password.

by gilboa on Thu 8th Jan 2004 15:57 UTC

...Works just fine under DSL. I use it regularly.


by Tim Jansen on Thu 8th Jan 2004 16:23 UTC

4 GB HD space is worth less than $4.. so why should you care? Unless your time is completely worthless, when these 4 GB (and the distributions that install them) save you only an hour you made quite a good deal.

In a few years we will have cheap terrabyte disks... who cares about a GB more or less? The important thing is to manage all the storage (and maybe to make use of it ;) , not to have even more free space.

Re: "bloat" (and other silly comments)
by Luke McCarthy on Thu 8th Jan 2004 16:38 UTC

I have two 60GB disks and I have a hundred or so megs free ;) Need all the space I can get for downloading anime!

In a few years we will have cheap terrabyte disks...

A few years != Now

The important thing is to manage all the storage (and maybe to make use of it ;) , not to have even more free space.

True, but I think that the OS shouldn't be greedy, all that extra space should be for the user's data. Still of course, I'm OK with distros taking up a few gigs as long as I don't have to keep downloading more software :-)

RE: I hate reviews w/o screenshots.
by Walter on Thu 8th Jan 2004 17:39 UTC

Plenty of screenshots on

Re: "bloat"
by insdr on Thu 8th Jan 2004 17:44 UTC

4 GB HD space is worth when you live in a subdeveloped country where your choices for getting any linux/BSD/whatever, an internet conection or even an old computer at all, are as high and varied as getting those $4 you talk about. And I guess I am not the only one in that enviroment here.

RE: "bloat"
by Telemann on Thu 8th Jan 2004 17:53 UTC

"4 GB HD space is worth less than $4.. so why should you care?"

That's a very Microsoft-esque way of thinking. Our goal should be to create an OS that's efficient and uses disk space appropriately, rather than just eating up room because it's there. Elegance, efficiency and cleanliness are important, and trying to keep a system's footprint down leads to a better end result than just throwing in anything possible.

Developers who care about overhead and size usually create the cleanest and most efficient software. Those who assume everyone won't mind filling their 80G drive with redundant files usually end up with bloated and bug-ridden apps.

re: Telemann
by Smartpatrol on Thu 8th Jan 2004 18:06 UTC

Very well stated thanks for replying for me. 4GB's of junk and bloat is the issue not the 4GB's of space.

Re: "bloat"
by Will on Thu 8th Jan 2004 18:26 UTC

4 GB HD space is worth less than $4.. so why should you care?

Because it's a lot of data, a lot of complexity, a lot to backup, restore, and install.

Simple example:

I was installing DNS on my machine at home, and decided to use djbdns.

I downloaded it, and I thought something was wrong. It downloaded instantly. I barely had my finger off the mouse button. Why? The source distribution is 84KB.

This compares to the 4.5MB source distro for BIND.

Not to get anywhere near the djbdns vs BIND debate, but if the systems offer equivalent functionality, there is much to be said for having the smaller one.

Smaller files == faster files. Faster install, faster recovery, faster backup.

So, really, how much is your time worth anyway?

Not Exactly On Topic But...
by John DeHope 3 on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:02 UTC

I wish there was a book entitled "Linux For Windows Hackers" or somesuch. I am a pretty comfortable windows guy, but whenever I read threads about linux my head spins. This stuff makes very little sense to me. I've picked up what apt-get is, and I did a search just now for djbdns, but since windows already does all the DNS work for me, I don't understand what dns software does for me. All the wacky filenames and super-truncated terms baffle me.

I wish I could at least be reasonably knowledgeable. But right now I feel like a lost monkey in search of his goatsmilk lozenge.

v Why?
by Mark on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:03 UTC
writing this from DSL
by Jeremy Wininger on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:08 UTC

I am writing this from Firebird installed on DSL (Running from the 50MB cdrom).

It seems to work really well.The VESA drivers for X bombs on this GeForce2 MX card but other than that it is swell.

Re: Why?
by Anonymous on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:10 UTC

Why can people not get it into their heads that not everyone can afford 'a couple of hundred dollars'.

For some people 'a couple of hundred dollars' is a year's wage.

That is the point Mark.

Re: Mark
by Dan on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:10 UTC

But I could pick up a 486 for free from my school (yes they give old computers away) and install linux, and still do everyting i do in windows but free of cost. That's a few hundred bucks in my pocket from the computer and another hundred or so for XP, which is quite a bit of cash for a poor college student =)

Re: Why?
by Walter on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:22 UTC

Three reasons points, Mark:

I live in a third-world country, and many children's future may be influenced by something like this - revival of old hardware. If you bother to read the DSL forum, you may learn something about just that. I don't think you know what poverty and people with no future prospects look like.

Secondly, it's a hobbyist/enthusiast thing that you obviously don't understand.

Third, it is cool to show your friends you can do fine without that other OS they are so dependent on ;-).

by Brian N on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:38 UTC

This is very impressive, wonder if it uses compression as would seem nessary.
Are there any intermediate size distros inbetween Knoppix & DSL that fit on a 157MB ~3" CDROM ?
Could a semi stripped down Knoppix or Morphix be squezed on to a 157Mb CDROM and targeted specifically for SOHO use and still provide either a compact KDE or Gnome, Mozilla or Firebird, and a good office suite. I dare say OOo 1.1 at some 60MB install is too big.

Thanks if anyone could expand on this
Brian N

DamnSmall and older machines
by John Marranca, Jr on Thu 8th Jan 2004 19:44 UTC

I was a skeptic...that it until Thanksgiving weekend. I downloaded/burned the ISO...and without EVER having used a "Knoppix-like ISO" before, tried it in my 133 MHz Compaq laptop. It was great! The old machine actually seemed fast again (LOL). Even with its 33.6 modem, it handled the web very well. The part that I enjoy most is the ability to save your configurations on a floppy to expedite re-start. But, what I didn't like is that on my version, the online radio worked, but it was "pre-set" to an IP that required braodband connections to listen.

Main distro? No. Handy BACKUP distro? You bet!


For those wishing to learn more about Linux without having to spend months learning (and unlearning) bits and pieces of information off the Web, there are now some good alternatives.

My favourite is the recently published book "Moving to Linux - Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye!", by Marcel Gagne', Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-321-15998-5. This book is perfect for the person who already knows their way around one of the popular commercial OS's, and who wishes to learn how to use Linux. It's well written, comprehensive, informative, and filled with useful screenshots. It's also surprisingly up to date for a book on Linux, for instance the screenshots are of KDE 3.1 (Linux evolves so fast that most Linux books are out of date before they hit the bookstore shelves). List price is $34.99 USD, about what the average basic boxed-set Linux distro costs.

Marcel Gagne' is one of the most popular writers for Linux Journal, among other things. He is unusual among technical writers in having a sense of humour and writing entertainingly while still being technically accurate, complete, and understandable.

By the way, Gagne's book is KDE-centric; if you're a Gnome fanatic this may not be the book for you, but then again, if you're a Gnome fanatic, you're not part of the target audience for this book.

My second suggestion is a slightly older book, "Linux in the workplace", written by SSC, No Starch press, ISBN 1-886411-86-7. This book (published in 2002) reads more like the typical computer book, which is to say it's not exactly a fascinating page-turner, reading more like a dictionary than like one of Shakespeare's works. However it does contain a great deal of information in one place, complete with lots of screenshots. This book too is KDE centric, though of course the screenshots show a somewhat older version of KDE. I've forgotten what I paid for it, and there is no list price printed on the cover, but I believe it was in the $35 range also.

To anyone wanting to learn to use Linux, but bewildered by all the newsgroup posts about sendmail, bash, bind, sylpheed, kernel versions, crontab files, and all the other Linux arcana, these books are a breath of fresh air. They do not presume you are a Linux fanatic, or that you want to know every detail of how your OS/distro/filesystem/kernel works. They simply show you how to effectively use a Linux distribution running the KDE desktop to get your day-to-day work done. Of the two, I much prefer Gagne's book, not only because it is more current, but also because it is more fun to read and therefore more likely to be useful to you. (Few people have the intestinal fortitude to read a book they don't find enjoyable).


RE: Impressive..
by Jassi on Thu 8th Jan 2004 21:25 UTC

hey you're just in luck... visit ,its a mini distro with KDE and its just 180MB.. its got loads of other apps aswell ! try it out..


Damn Strange!
by FYL on Thu 8th Jan 2004 21:27 UTC

How does damn small use icons in fluxbox? Fluxbox doesn't have icons, what magic is this?

RE: Not Exactly On Topic But...
by Bill on Thu 8th Jan 2004 21:48 UTC

I, too, am a Windows person who has run linux for a little over a year now. I'd spring for a dictionary of linux-ese or linux-speak right now.

RE: Not Exactly On Topic But...
by t3RRa on Thu 8th Jan 2004 22:08 UTC

djbdns and BIND are DNS daemons(server), not the client. ;)

Re: Damn Strange!
by Another matthew on Thu 8th Jan 2004 22:23 UTC

"Now in 0.4.3 we have desktop icons! This is possible because of the fantastically small XtDesktop X Windows desktop icon manager by Dmitry Ovechkin." --

v ... is a good way to learn ... groan !
by garbage on Thu 8th Jan 2004 22:25 UTC
Re: Re; Impressive
by Brian N on Thu 8th Jan 2004 22:25 UTC

Thanks very much Jassi

This Slax live CD is Slackware based. Since the Slax site provides scripts for users to make own custom live CDs, I must try this.

Thanks again
Brian N

reply to Brian N about distro slightly bigger than DSL
by Stan on Thu 8th Jan 2004 22:28 UTC

Hi all
just about that question about an intermediate between DSL (50MB) and the 200MB plus distros
well there is Flonix which is like a slightly bigger DSL with more multimedia suport built in and is about 64MB
It also can install to HDD and it has a nice Media Centre type frontend you can use for a home made set top box (it even suports TV cards!)
Personaly i love Slax and would love it to have a quick install to disk button like Morphix light does
Incidentaly Morphix light is great on 486 systems itself!

oh and as for disk sizes? Here in Uk I have only seen 30mb and 50mb credit card sized disks then it is the 3 inch circular 185 or 210 sized disks
I have never heard of 157 mb sized disks

my personal opinion on what distro for old hardware is dependent on disk size:

200mb = DSL
200mb to 500mb = Flonix
500mb = Morphix light (or Slax if it can be installed OK)
500mb to 1000mb = Vector

These arent exact! just some rough guides I use with linux.

Then again i have put win95 on a 486 laptop under 100mb HDD.
winME on a laptop with 800mb pentium100 using "98light" to strip out explorer and "lightstep" as shell etc this runs old version of office 97 fine.
I have even put win3.1 on an old laptop 386 with "calmira" as a front end so it looks/behaves like win95 in under 40mb and it runs wordperfect8 fine.

so whatever your old hardware there is some operating system you can use with it at a decent speed be it microsoft or linux. (I prefer linux obviousely or i wouldnt be here)

by RoyBatty on Thu 8th Jan 2004 23:17 UTC

I just got a new Sager 5680 notebook ( last Friday. It's a monster machine for a notebook(3.0 Ghz/w HT, 1 Gig Dual-400 ram, ATI Radeon 9600 Pro Mobile..), so I can install basically whatever I want on it, but this distro looks to be perfect for my old IBM thinkpad 380ED that is still very useful and served me well during the lean times. It's great to see that fluxbox has desktop icons now. Fluxbox served me well too. It's good to have minimalistic live distros like this. It sucks when you can't run the newest stuff, but it's good to know there are distros out there that can make the best experience. By the way, Dillo is still the fastest browser I've ever seen. Go Dillo!

it's missing a thing or too
by [sVen] on Thu 8th Jan 2004 23:59 UTC

the biggest problem i have with most distros is what they have installed. for example knoppix has cdrw programs and dsl does not but knoppix has gigs of crap i don't want, if i could have it my way i would make a distro like dsl with a easy to use self mod app/script. so any newbiie can add his(or her) fav apps/crap/settings to a iso and burn without the need to really know how to use linux.
i have 512mb ram on my system and i would like have a distro small enough to boot from cd and copy itself to ram letting me uses the cdrw drive for more important things (dvd/divx/mp3/burning) [sVen]

good distro
by emh on Fri 9th Jan 2004 02:13 UTC

I've used DSL and like it a lot. Amazing how much is packed into a modern distro with only 50 meg. I can be online within 10 min of popping in the cd, very few distros offer that.

As far as mini cd distros, there is LAS, but this is oriented towards security. Maybe there is a small morphix. I'm getting a small 486 or PI laptop to tinker with, will put DSL or zipslack or something like that on it.

old hardware
by Jorg on Fri 9th Jan 2004 09:56 UTC

I started using Linux (Debian) about 5 years ago on several 486's. It is amazing how useful old PC's can be , also in desktop setups (when installed RAM is not too low). But, installing took a lot of time (half a day?) on these old machines, not talking about finding the right(=lightweight) applications and the tweaking afterwards - being a newbie back then.
Still being found of "lightweight" (and Debian - however dissatisfied with the long release cycles), I tried DSL yesterday on a Celeron 700 with 128 MB RAM. It provides a nice desktop (why didn't I found out XtDesktop before?) and it flies with only about 20 MB RAM consumption.
With a DSL script simular to the knoppix knx-hdinstall (a great time-saver when installing Linux for friends!), old hardware can be put to use again without investing tons of time. And that's just great!
Thank you DSL for bringing back the fun into low spec computing!


apt-get WORKS in DSL!!!
by winjimmy on Fri 9th Jan 2004 14:12 UTC

You can tell this guy knows nothing about Debian. Install the binary of Open Office? Lucky you ran into no dependency problems. Always, but always, use apt-get. apt-get will get you the suite PLUS any dependencies. Please, you are using Debian here. Don't ignore its superior package management system. That would be neanderthalish. apt-get needed some minor fixing in earlier DSL's (< 5.0) before it would work ("dpkg reconfigure apt-get" or something like that), but after that minor fix, it worked normally. But be warned: do not, I say DO NOT, apt-get any xwindows stuff or you'll hose your xvesa - which DSL uses. I found this out the hard way.

the wonders of DSL
by grover on Mon 12th Jan 2004 06:30 UTC

this writter does miss some of the wonder that is DSL
and yea you can break the xserver with apt-get
but ive used apt-get to add tons and tons of stuff to my install with no issues at all.
DSL rocks my world

I said in the review that I haven't used Debian or a derivative before DSL. And unfortunately is it no good to try apt-get properly in a country with very expensive monopolised dial-up.