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Carlos
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 2:41 am    Post subject: Binary distro recommendations? Reply with quote

This is a last resort, because my laptop apparently can't compile anything: I've even used distcc to have all the gccs done on another box, and still I can't get stuff like binutils to compile, but that's a discussion for somewhere else. So anyway, I'm going to use another distro. My first choice would be Arch Linux since I've heard good things about it, but it's i686-and-up; my laptop is a Pentium MMX (i586).

So, I'm curious what distros people recommend; the most important features for me are:
  1. Never worry about dependencies.
  2. Elegant handling of init scripts and /etc configuration in general.
  3. No overabundance of annoying graphical configuration tools (I don't mind if they exist as long as I can bypass them, but I feel like many distros put a lot of effort into making unnecessary tools; effort that could be used for other tasks).
Of course, I also can't ever have to compile anything on the box.
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PowerFactor
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based on my admitedly limited experience I would say give slackware a shot. I'm not sure what you mean by your first criteria, that could be taken two ways. Slackware's package manager has only very minimal dependancy awareness. Its init scripts are not as elegant as gentoo's but it's not too hard to work with. And it definitly doesn't have an overabundance of gui config tools, at least 8.0 didn't. And you normally shouldn't HAVE to compile anything, but the selection of apps is much more limited than gentoo that way. Of course you knew that already. :wink:
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slackware's relative paucity of packages is a pretty big problem for me; the simplicity of installation and stuff are attractive to me - after all, I used Slack on a workstation for over a year - but I also remember fetching and compiling tarballs almost every time I wanted to use a new app, and I definitely did have to do a lot of dependency wrangling. I guess I could download and install RPMs instead, but I heard RPMs aren't too great with dependencies either.

So I'm still looking for a distro that has its own, fairly large package tree that'll handle dependencies automagically. I'd try Debian - I haven't touched it ever since my first experience with Linux when I didn't know anything except how to play nethack - but I keep hearing about how its packages are really outdated.

Hmm, maybe I should look at FreeBSD.
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PowerFactor
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you have much more slack experience than me so I defer to you there. :)
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on how soiled you want your hands to become -- RH will work, as long as you're willing to sit through it all and make it into your own machine. I can't really say I have much experience with or respect for any other binaries, except for Knoppix. Okay, maybe SusE... sUSe... SuSe... sUsE... whatever the heck. I almost bought a version 8 lizard, but found Gentoo.
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Ari Rahikkala
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Debian all the way... use the testing branch and pinned packages from unstable if you need up-to-date packages. Debian handles updates, especially in /etc, with extreme elegance, has a simple SysV init (the only problem with it is that there's no rc.local, but that's so easy to work around I wouldn't even call it a workaround :)) and lets you do configuration by hand whenever you want to. The apt package repository is very comprehensive (much more so than Portage at the moment) and if there's software that is not in apt for some reason (licensing troubles are common), RPM with dependency ignorance or alien has a high chance of being able to install the package you need anyway.

Sometimes you have to jump through a couple of hoops to install some common desktop software, but shouldn't need to do anything tough... for KDE 3, see http://davidpashley.com/debian-kde/faq.html (not that I'd expect you to use KDE 3 on that laptop ;)) a , for mplayer, see http://marillat.free.fr/
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plate
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking at his hardware, I'd commend a version from the years when SuSE was still S.u.S.E. :lol: Seriously, have you tried slapping the Gentoo binaries from the appropriate GRP on that thing? For anything that's not in there you could emerge -b on a different machine and just move the packages to your laptop.

Another thought: Try Crux, they have a BSD-style init system that may be pleasing to your aesthetic senses, and there's even someone who committed a i586 ISO to their download section, a single platter worth only 190 MB or so. What they certainly don't have is a "fairly large package tree", at least not for your platform. And Knoppix will work, of course, including the harddisk installation script, although you'll first have to familiarize yourself with a German keyboard layout... :P

I agree that it would be best to avoid the RedHat Package Manager hell, but if it must be one from that realm, at least try Mandrake. urpmi does a much better job of dependency handling than plain RPM. I'm running (err, crawling, more like it) Mandrake 8.2 on a rather tricky Vaio 505EX/64 (Pentium MMX 233 MHz 64 MB RAM), never had any complaints.
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

plate wrote:
Looking at his hardware, I'd commend a version from the years when SuSE was still S.u.S.E. :lol:
That's ironic, because I actually ran SuSE on that laptop a long time ago, although I don't think they were S.u.S.E. anymore by that time.

Quote:
And Knoppix will work, of course, including the harddisk installation script, although you'll first have to familiarize yourself with a German keyboard layout... :P
I've run Knoppx on it too, although I didn't know there was an install-to-harddisk script. :oops: Anyway, I think I downloaded an English ISO, because if I pass "lang=us" to then I get a map that, from my limited use of it, seemed to be qwerty.

I just remembered that having decent Japanese support (I guess all I'll really need are canna and kinput2 packages) is also important, but I'll take a look at Crux first. Whoa, wait - I just looked at the [url=crux.nu/packages.txt]package list[/url], but the selection is a bit too trim. I guess I'll end up going with one of the big names - Debian, SuSE, Mandrake - after all. Or maybe FreeBSD. ;)

Thanks for all the help though. :) /me makes a note to do a write up for Linux on Laptops when he gets it all together.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Carlos wrote:
Anyway, I think I downloaded an English ISO, because if I pass "lang=us" to then I get a map that, from my limited use of it, seemed to be qwerty.

As long as you run it from CD, yes. If you go for the harddisk installation, it's a little different, even the Japanese Knoppix CD (the only one I ever tested) ends up with a default German keyboard layout... 8O They kicked out Gnome2 from that one to allow for Japanese fonts, by the way, check their website.
Carlos wrote:
/me makes a note to do a write up for Linux on Laptops when he gets it all together.

Please do! The write-up, I mean. For where to put it, I suggest you read this first... :wink:
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

plate wrote:
Carlos wrote:
Anyway, I think I downloaded an English ISO, because if I pass "lang=us" to then I get a map that, from my limited use of it, seemed to be qwerty.

As long as you run it from CD, yes. If you go for the harddisk installation, it's a little different, even the Japanese Knoppix CD (the only one I ever tested) ends up with a default German keyboard layout... 8O They kicked out Gnome2 from that one to allow for Japanese fonts, by the way, check their website.
Actually, according to the article it seems like I can specify "lang=us" from the installed system too. Anyway, this seems like a really quick way to get an installed system going so I'm trying it first.

plate wrote:
Carlos wrote:
/me makes a note to do a write up for Linux on Laptops when he gets it all together.

Please do! The write-up, I mean. For where to put it, I suggest you read this first... :wink:
Whoops; I was actually thinking of Linux on the Go, not LoL. With luck I won't have anything new to say when I write it - or maybe the other way around - although I'll make sure to repeat the good ol'
Code:
ide2=0x180,0x386
that one has to pass to the kernel to get the external CD drive working.
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gsfgf
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2003 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted in your other thread how i fixed a crazed gcc. However, IIRC a penium MMX is an i686 so you could use Arch. I've only used slack on a crappy box and was disapointed. gentoo runs noticeably faster on a pos com.
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Can O' Beans
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're familiar with Slack, you could try Vector linux. It's gotten some good reports, and it's supposedly based off slack, but cut down quiet a bit.

http://vectorlinux.org for some info.
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Carlos
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can O' Beans wrote:
If you're familiar with Slack, you could try Vector linux. It's gotten some good reports, and it's supposedly based off slack, but cut down quiet a bit.
Both Slack and VL are insufficient since they have relatively small package sets; offhand I notice the lack of Japanese input packages.

gsfgf: Thanks for the info; I tried that, as well as another stage1 tarball install, but they both failed.

Time to dig out the external CD drive and install Knoppix; I guess I'll have a much easier time understanding Debian than I did four years ago. :D
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masseya
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2003 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should read What OS did you use before migrating to Gentoo? because it's got a ton of information on other distrobutions and what people liked about them before. I used to use SuSE and have a few friends who still do, but I haven't used it since 7.3 and I don't think that I would want to give you bad information. :) I suppose not much has changed, but I simply wouldn't be unbiased enough to feel good about the recommendation.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2003 11:04 pm    Post subject: RedHat 6.2 Reply with quote

I had to build a set of thin-client terminals using old 486 laptops. I tried everything from the build-your-own distro, to slackware, to debian, to tom's root disk. All of them required more memory than the laptops had, or the installer was so old it didn't know what to do with my NIC card.

The only OS I could install in the end was rh6.2, in text mode. I used the netboot floppy, and hacked the initrd to make my nic look like a previous model that used the same module. In retrospect, the same trick will work with Tom's Root disk.

No, 6.2 is starting to disappear off of mirrors. If you can't find it, I have it on anonymous ftp on one of my servers.

If I may, I was having similar build problems just today. My issue was running out of RAM. (And these are machines with 64meg.) I solved the problem by creating and activating a swap partition.

I am going to be building a 486 version of Gentoo for those thinkpads I was talking about. I would be happy to make a completed tarball available to you.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think debian is a good choice for you, good gestion of dependencies, good init scripts and "vi" for the tools ;)
If you want to be up-to-date, use unstable tree !
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KungFuHamster
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about Windows XP?

/me dodges rotten vegtables thrown at him
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2003 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

XP on a 1998 or 1999 model Vaio? Nice try, KungFuHamster... 8) That thing wouldn't even run W2K without choking on swap^H^H^H^Hpage files.

Actually, Carlos, have you ever read my installation report for Mandrake on a PCG-505EX? Very newbyish, concocted last June when I knew zip, nada, diddley about Linux, but it proves that Mandrake 8.1 runs on it without a problem (and it's currently still running 8.2, occasionally).
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