9w - an installer for old computers

JM meets at gmx.fr
Sat Mar 8 13:18:06 UTC 2014

On Sat, 08 Mar 2014 13:38:24 +0100
Nio Wiklund <nio.wiklund at gmail.com> wrote:

> See this link
> http://phillw.net/isos/linux-tools/9w/
> 1. What computer will run at all, will be able to do some 'real work',
> etc? It might be worth the effort just for the sake of knowledge.


I can tell about a recent experience with a Fujitsu Siemens Amilo-EL N243S9 
laptop, known as one of the AMILO EL 6800 at the http://support.ts.fujitsu.com/index.asp

I came with 256 MB ram and a Celeron 2Ghz. I have installed Bento, it was heating, and
quite long. Once installed it was not comfortable for use. I removed all possible items
to gain speed, such as update-notifier and other tools which we can manage without them,
replaced lxpanel by tint2 (which is permanently installed and ready to go, just a switch
of files in the autostart directory of the user is needed), and same for pcmanfm, I
switched to feh displaying the background and finally I configured the eth0 internet
connection in the interfaces file of /etc/network/ and removed

The issue would more come from the cpu than from the ram, by the way. Anyhow I added 512
MB which I found in my stock and that started to be better. Better means the cpu is
reaching 100% use when using Synaptic, or while apt-get install is at the install stage
of the process. Else than that, Firefox, Midori, Libreoffice, can be used.

I had done other things such as cleaning the 2 fans full of dust, removing some screws
that were having a walk on the motherboard, and added heat paste as none was left.

I put lxpanel back as well as pcmanfm managing the desktop, and also nm-applet for some
reasons... met issues with several features without these items.

I had also tried slim instead of lightdm, but then I could not access to internal
partitions as simple user anymore : there is probably an issue around a file missing
in /etc/pam.d : if someone finds out how that should be done, I would like to try to add
such a slim file, because there is one in Archlinux where no such issue occurs (I use it
everyday with Slim).

I would probably leave this system with nodm, but then also the internal partitions
aren't seen, and the session is not seen as active by ConsoleKit. I don't know what other
issues can occur from a non active session. I don't have enough knowledge around this

For older machines I suggest the following distributions, in that order:

Puppy Linux;
Damn Small Linux.

Take note of this when you install on another machine:

by installing on another machine and putting back the hard drive on an older machine, the
result is often a black screen. What is needed then is boot to init3, and once you get a
prompt, login into the terminal, fix the graphics, and then you can reboot and login
to the X session (using a startx command from the init3 stage if needed, with a ~/.xinitrc
file if needed, which belongs to a package that might not be installed... that might be
the "xinit" package or something of the kind).

About antiX : I have installed it to a machine having 192 MB ram and it could not be
upgraded in ram. The proc was a 800 Mhz Celeron. When I finished tweaking antiX for
performance (zram configured and sorted out, prelink for Libreoffice), it could be used
without pain. Therefore I would not suggest lower specs for old machines than 192 MB ram
and 800 Mhz CPU.

Here is the zram-config files used in antiX, if some are interested to test it (it can't
be used in Ubuntu, this is for Debian branded distros which still use rc-sysinit).
here a tarball containing it all and ready to be unpacked (as root):


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