Ubuntu on P166

Andy Rabagliati andyr at wizzy.com
Mon May 1 11:30:00 UTC 2006

On Fri, 28 Apr 2006, Eero Tamminen wrote:

> I recently installed Ubuntu on a P166 with 96MB RAM, 2.5GB disk,
> ATI 3D Rage+ gfx card and an external modem for internet.  I.e.
> pretty low-spec machine...
> Some observations...

Thanks for your lengthy feedback, some snipped by me if I have no comment.

> Display and window managers:
> - I eventually ended up not using display manager and starting X server
>   directly from /etc/inittab for runlevel 5
> - In /etc/init.d/ I have a script that starts IceWm (for the only user
>   of that machine) in correct locale automatically on bootup when
>   runlevel 5 is reached

Nice idea, and useful in a single-user environment.

If I may *be bold*, let me declare that xubuntu is for two use cases,
and we should aim for the intersection (useful for both). Shoot me down..

* Low-spec machines, standalone
* Thin client use.

To me, this means low-resource applications, multi-user, and economical
network utilisation.

Regarding network utilisation, X reports the graphics capability of the
graphics card, and features not available are pushed back to the server.
So, where OpenGL is run right on the graphics processor for newish
machines, old boxes with 8-bit colorspace or PCI busses duck it, meaning
that a Thin Client server does the work, and feeds the graphics over the
network, with disastrous results (for me).

> X applications:
> - (u)rxvt is memory-wise much nicer than xterm (or gnome-terminal...)
>   if you want to have several terminals open with apps
> - Surprisingly starting plain X apps like oclock or xcalc took more(!)
>   time than starting Gtk applications.  When I strace'd them, they
>   seemed to be spending most of their startup loading X bitmap font
>   descriptions.  I would suggest splitting non-latin X misc/bitmap
>   fonts in Ubuntu to a separate package that is not installed by
>   default.  Nowadays if somebody needs non-latin text, he uses
>   something else than bitmap fonts and plain X

I think all your suggestions are now for Edgy, but they are very relevant.

> Gnome and desktop:
> - Avoid Gnome desktop (panel, nautilus, evolution (backend) stuff etc)
>   like plague, it brings in a lot of services (gdm, gconf, gnome-vfs etc)
>   that eat huge amount of memory all the time with little benefit
>   on legacy HW.  And if kernel kills the service because it eats
>   too much ram, desktop re-starts it, repeat from beginning...
> - On the other hand Gnome dependencies in applications don't matter
>   so much as long as they don't require all these additional gnome
>   services to be running all the time.  User can always close other
>   apps if one of the apps is taking a lot of memory (and memory usage
>   can be seen from an applet)
> Some nice apps that are not listed on Xubuntu page:
> - leafpad  (like notepad, much lighter than gedit)
> - zenity   (e.g. for opening calendar from IceWm panelbutton and run dialog)
> - gpdf     (deps seemed nicer than xpdf which brings in lesstif)
> - sylpheed (*much* faster to open than thunderbird)

There was some comment on this, but I believe sylpheed is in Universe.

> And things which unfortunately are not localized:
> - xfreecd  (CD-player)
> - xpaint
> - tuxpaint (for kids)

I do not like tuxpaint, for its high network usage.

> - lyx-xforms  (nicest document processor there is ;))
> - xjed     (programmable text editor)
> - xcircuit (somewhat like xfig, not really for computer beginners)
> There's also surprising amount of nice games that work quite well even
> on a P166 machine, the only problem is that they are not localized:

I have not tried all these.

> - ace-of-penguins
>   (collection of games like solitaire, *much* faster than pysol)
> - circuslinux
> - froz (text adventures + I have zenity&dialog menu script for them)
> - frozen bubble

Another network-killer.

> - gav
> - hatari (Atari ST emulator with ROM which source was GPL'd by Caldera
>   for those of you who don't have the original machine on the attic)
> - heroes (tron on acid)
> - icebreaker
> - lmarbles
> - ltris
> - luola
> - mirrormagic
> - njam (2 player pacman)
> - pente (renju)
> - penguin-command
> - rockdodger
> - rocksandiamonds (implements all boulderdash variants out there)
> - scummvm (graphics adventure game emulator)
> - slashem-sdl & text-based nethack
> - supertux

Anything with tux in its name I have found to be a heavy
network/graphics user. Is that the case here ?

> - toppler (nebulous)
> - xbl
> - xblast
> - xboing
> - xdemineur (minesweeper)
> - xgalaga
> - xjewel (needs >600 high screen)
> - xmahjongg
> - xoids
> - xscavenger
> - xsoldier (needs >600 high screen)
> Xjig and Xthrust would be nice too, but they work only with 8-bit screen.
> It would be nice to have an option in Xubuntu to use IceWm instead of
> XFCE and to log directly to it.  On lowend/memory machines it's really
> the desktop that is killing the thing[1].

I think your list of apps needs to be put on the wiki somewhere, for Edgy.

Cheers,      Andy!

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