xubuntu, ubuntu and others.... (rather long message :D)

C Schultz socient at gmail.com
Fri Apr 21 19:07:10 UTC 2006

> > Linux really needs a strong non-Gnome or non-KDE
> > distro. Xubuntu could be it.
> Amen to that. DSL, puppy, etc. are great distros, but as soon as you
> want to install any packages, you're throwing the dice. The packages
> are carefully selected and packaged for minimal resource usage.
> Xubuntu may not be as light as DSL or puppy, but at least you get
> working package management, active development and a huge library of
> programs that are going to work!
Interesting thread.  Working with 'minimal resource usage' machines, older
hardware, can be a real mess.  It's difficult to be faithful to one distro.
The bottom line is that most people I know who go about restoring old
computers end up carrying around several distros around and using what
works, when it works.

I see the 'minimal resource' problematic as having (at least) three facets:
1. Installation--there are often challenges to installation, such as
computers without functioning USB/CDROMs/harddrives/floppy drives (or a
computer with ONLY a hard drive and a floppy and 40-odd 1.44Mb ZipSlack
floppy disks).
2. Hardware Recognition- even if you can get the distro loaded (or use a
live cd/usb in the case of a computer without a hard drive), there are all
the issues involved with recognizing hardware.  Particularly problematic are
all the winmodems floating around out there.  Many of the places where these
computers can be truly useful are not high bandwidth areas and when Internet
access is possible, it happens via telephone lines.  Most of the discussion
groups will say 'go out and buy a linux-compatible external modem'--but this
is easier said than done in many environments.
3. Maintenance (and extension)--this is where Michael's comment is right
on.  For several years, I've been concentrating on points 1 and 2, just
trying to get people and communities 'up and running' with linux on old
machines, but as difficult as getting linux on and hardware
recognized...this is not enough.  Because as varied as the installation
situations and hardware configurations might be out there, the types of
users and their needs are even more diverse.

This doesn't mean that Xubuntu needs to be ALL things to ALL people (or ALL
computers), not by any means.   Now that Xubuntu has a LiveCD version,
however, it will get a lot more testing on older machines. Documenting all
the end-user 'workarounds' and capturing end-user experience will be
critical to furthering development--I'd guess even more important than to
linux distros targeted at medium/higher end machines.

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