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davidson
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2002 3:25 pm    Post subject: will gentoo run? Reply with quote

hi there i was looking around the site for awhile and noticed you needed 64mb to run gentoo.. well i have 32 and was wondering if it would still run fine on that. (note that i am new to linux and would like to give it a shot) also i have no idea what x86 is (im not even sure if that was right what i just typed :? ) but i have a p233, 3gig, 32mb of ram and i was wondering.. will gentoo run on my pc or is it just to outdated?
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pjp
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2002 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are ways around it, but it isn't easy. For the most part, it would require another machine that had at least 64MB of RAM. Assuming you could get the additional RAM, the installation would take quite a while. Compiling takes a good amount of time, especially on older machines.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

x86 refers to an Intel or compatible processor (cpu) that has either 80286, 80386, 80486, 80586 or 80686 as it's model number. A Pentium (classic) 233mHz is a 80586 (more commonly called a 586) processor, while 686 refers to either a Pentium 2, 3 or 4. The 486, 386 & 286 were the predecessors to the Pentium chips that to my knowledge never surpassed 100mHz, but I could be wrong. I still use a 486DX4 66mHz on occasion with Slackware 8.0 and it works great with only 16mb RAM. This is with no X, if I need X then I use a trim window manager like Waimea or Windowmaker, which I would advise for your case with 32mb RAM. I would suggest it (Slackware) for your tired old box, but if you ever get a 686 try Gentoo! Oh yeah, the x in x86 just means they are referring to any of the above-mentioned cpu's, it's like saying Windows 9x, although I try not to say that often, such foul language ;)
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kerframil
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you really want to do Gentoo on that box, I suggest compiling on a strong machine and building binary packages, which you'll subsequently use to build on the older box. Ah, let me see now ... yes ... you'll need to:
  • Use "-march=pentium-mmx -Os -pipe" in make.conf (optimising for size is a good idea methinks and P233 must be an MMX type). Trouble is, the machine you're compiling on may not like pentium-mmx specific code very much if the chip is signifcantly different. If so, you might have to settle for "-mcpu=pentium-mmx -march=i586 -Os -pipe" which is a reasonable compromise, and should allow you to build successfully on any newer system.
  • When you build on the newer system, change the bootstrap.sh script. Change lines 126 and 129 to these respectively:
    Code:
    emerge --buildpkg  ${myGLIBC} ${myBASELAYOUT} ${myTEXINFO} ${myGETTEXT} ${myZLIB} ${myBINUTILS} ${myGCC} || cleanup 1
    Code:
    emerge --buildpkg ${myNCURSES} || cleanup 1

    Then go through stage 1. For all other subsequent emerges during install be sure to use the --buildpkg option also.
  • Burn a CD, or plug a hard disk in to the newer system and copy everything in /usr/portage/packages/All plus a copy of the portage distfile, e.g. portage-2.0.64-r4.tar.bz2 or whatever. Just make a tarball of the whole /usr/portage tree, but lose the distfiles first, you won't be needing them (except for portage).
  • Now start setting up your older box. The idea is, instead of running bootstrap.sh, just do:
    Code:
    emerge portage
    emerge --usepkg glibc baselayout texinfo gettext zlib binutils gcc ncurses

    And:
    Code:
    emerge --usepkg world

    where appropriate and so on. You won't need to worry about emerge rsync during the install and you won't need to compile anything except for portage itself, so install should be quite fast and smooth.

I've used a similar technique to build Gentoo on systems where I don't have an Internet connection available. The above should work (well hopefully you get the idea). The only issue is getting the portage tree over to the old system. The 1.4 boot CD won't let you eject it, so you either need to have another CD drive handy, or use a 1.2 CD which does let you eject. Of even better, just put the hard-drive you're going to use on the old box in the newer system, and pop it into the old box where everything will be in place, chroot it into it and tidy up the loose ends (i.e. building the kernel) - in which case you won't even need to use the whole use/build binary package approach. Yeah, maybe that makes even more sense!

If you try this and are successful, I'd make a complete bzipped tarball of the whole partition and back it up. That'll give you a sure fire way to get a workable Gentoo system up and running on the box at any point in the future (and indeed, any similar box).
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davidson
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well thanks a lot for the replys.. and yes i do have a newer pc that i am using right now.. the problem is i dont really have the space on this machine to install linux or i would.. lol yes i know my old box is only 3 gig and this one is 20 but right now the 3 gig has more space than my 20 lol.. but ill try what you suggested kerframil.. and i think i might stick the old hdd into this beast and try to install it. if all fails i can just do a format... sigh... i hope it doesnt go to slow on my old one because that is what happened to all the other linux's ive tryed on that box.. now before i start i have ONE more question..... WILL gentoo run really slow on my old pc OR will it run at a reasonable speed not taking 5 minutes to load one program? :?
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delta407
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gentoo runs great on old hardware. I have a P100 laptop with 24 MB of RAM that -- believe it or not -- runs everything, including X, without swapping. RedHat, Mandrake, and Windows 95 on the other hand swap during boot. Gentoo is faster and leaner than all of the above, and will 'feel' better than any of them.

(Of course, that depends on what you're doing; I wouldn't want to run X on such a slow box, but they make decent file, mail, or DNS servers.)
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davidson
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so it should run on my box without having to wait 5 mins to load a program such as the internet or something (i really dont care how long it takes to boot as long as the programs run fast)
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delta407
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Assuming you can get Gentoo loaded (and, again, depending on what you want to do), it will be nice and responsive. Personally, I wouldn't recommend running a workstation (i.e. web, mail, word processing, etc.) on 32 MB of RAM, but it should be tolerable once everything is in.
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nomoore
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yes the performance should be tolerable for most things if you use a small window manager. i.e. fluxbox (or whatever 'box) or windowmaker. The idea is to use as little ram as possible since that is your main limiting factor. Also you probably don't want to run mozilla, it's a beast. Try one of the browsers with a smaller footprint such as phoenix.
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hhaamu
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nomoore wrote:
Also you probably don't want to run mozilla, it's a beast. Try one of the browsers with a smaller footprint such as phoenix.


I'd say that you shouldn't even try phoenix/mozilla, but Opera runs fine on my P100/40MB (though somewhat slow). Besides, who wants to spend 24+ hours compiling Phoenix?
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delta407
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hhaamu wrote:
Besides, who wants to spend 24+ hours compiling Phoenix?
Code:
# emerge phoenix-bin
;)
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kerframil
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, assuming you want GUI apps for everything - for a browser, maybe even net-www/dillo. Yes it's a bit limited bit it's very lightweight and fast. It's also used as by the new net-mail/sylpheed-claws build which would probably make a good choice for an email client. For a word processor, app-office/abiword and for an editor, app-editors/gvim should be OK. Nearly all of the above are gtk+1.2 apps and should run OK (especially if you don't compile in gnome support - USE="-gnome"). IMHO, avoid KDE apps like the plague. Qt alone is a monster.

Be really aggressive about disabling USE flags you don't need - it will seriously help (you only need to explictly disable things you don't need that are in /etc/make.profile/make.defaults). app-admin/ufed is a really neat tool to help set the USE flags. If in doubt with your chosen ebuilds, have a look a the ebuild file itself to see what USE flags they recognise.

I've already suggested -Os to keep binary sizes small (helps with RAM consumption too). But you might even want to tone down the optimisation further. For example, telling gcc to optimise instructions for an arch/cpu (such as pentium-mmx) will certainly generate faster executing code. Unfortunately, it's an insoluble fact that faster binary is almost always bigger binary. I haven't tested this in the case of gcc, but I suspect that the greater the arch level the bigger the binary, hence the more RAM/disk space is consumed. You might want to test this by emerging something a few times with different flags on an existing Gentoo box with the --usepkg option. Then compare sizes of the generated package - for a a fair test you'll want to take note of the uncompressed size.

EDIT: Almost forgot, make sure you use USE="-nls" too!
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BlackBart
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i am running gento fine on my p120 w/48 megs of ram, it's significantly slower than windows 95 though :(
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kerframil
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
it's significantly slower than windows 95 though

I'm not surprised. Win95 is no valid comparison, and will have a small footprint which maybe can't be matched by Windows NT, Linux (with X et al) or any other "modern" 32-bit thoroughbred, in part due to it's fairly heavy use of 16-bit code which is often smaller.

I tried Knoppix on a PII Deschutes with 64Mb of RAM and it was diabolical in X. The CD-ROM drive was very low quality though and I believe it would have been quite acceptable if running off the HD. Yes, more than 32Mb is definitely desirable ....

I think maybe modern instances of Linux are beginning to disprove the notion that Linux is always a perfect fit for really old hardware. I mean, take a look at the system requirements for RedHat 8.0 - 64Mb for text mode, they say! I remember my first brush with RedHat 4.0, that was running X on really old hardware just fine. Maybe there's a price to pay for today's cutting edge. Newer compilers, libs and software just expect there to be more RAM available. So perhaps Gentoo isn't the best choice as scocou alluded to.

In light of that, as well as things like Slackware and Debian, I wonder how the likes of OpenBSD (or FreeBSD) match up? They might be more suitable. And I think XFree 3.x is still kicking around which is probably a lot smaller, a significant factor.
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delta407
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kerframil wrote:
Win95 is no valid comparison, and will have a small footprint which maybe can't be matched by Windows NT, Linux (with X et al) or any other "modern" 32-bit thoroughbred, in part due to it's fairly heavy use of 16-bit code which is often smaller.
To be fair, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation will run on a 486 (~16 MHz, IIRC) with 16 MB of RAM and 110 MB of disk; Windows 95 will crawl on a 386 with 4 MB of RAM and 35 MB of disk.
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kerframil
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To be fair, Windows NT 4.0 Workstation will run on a 486 (~16 MHz, IIRC) with 16 MB of RAM

Technically yes, but have you ever tried? I did with NT 3.51 on a 486/DX2 with 16Mb RAM once and it's an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

My experience is that > 48Mb is realistic for NT and derivatives. In fact, make that > 64Mb with 2000 and upwards ... and you'll probably still be wanting. Win9x, in spite of its diabolical hideousness, is much lighter, especially if you use Shane Brook's 98lite. And no, that doesn't mean I recommend it ... :-)
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delta407
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kerframil wrote:
My experience is that > 48Mb is realistic for NT and derivatives. In fact, make that > 64Mb with 2000 and upwards ... and you'll probably still be wanting.
Yes, those are in fact the exact values I use. I, personally, refuse to install Windows 2000 on any machine under 64 MB of RAM or under a 233 MHz Pentium II, and I'm refusing all Win9x installs as I have for the past year. So, that means that anyone under those specs is pretty much SOL. ;)

<rant>

Seriously, though, I'm curious as to why so much really old hardware is still in circulation as compared to the 'modern' (233 MHz/64 MB) PCs that have been shipping since 1998. Heck, I know someone who is running Windows 95 on a Pentium 100 with 72 MB of RAM and has everything tweaked out -- now, he's finally thinking about upgrading, since Windows 95 refuses to work with his brand new ($900) digital camera. Why on earth do people refuse to pay $250 and build a new box? (That's $40 for a mid-tower case, $60 for a Duron and motherboard combo, $80 for the hard drive, $50 for RAM and $20 for an El-Cheapo AGP video card.) Why?!?

</rant>
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 3:52 am    Post subject: Why not... Reply with quote

Quote:
my old box is only 3 gig and this one is 20 but right now the 3 gig has more space than my 20


One thing you could do is take the 3GB hard drive out of your old computer and install it in your newer computer. You could then use that as your linux partition...
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kerframil
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Why on earth do people refuse to pay $250 and build a new box? (That's $40 for a mid-tower case, $60 for a Duron and motherboard combo, $80 for the hard drive, $50 for RAM and $20 for an El-Cheapo AGP video card.) Why?!?

True, but just think what they paid for their hardware at the time! It's also hard to argue with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" idea. Much as we may despise Windows 9x, it is (believe it or not) possible in some cases to have a reasonably stable system running on it. And if it had been serving the purpose for the user in question, then he (or she) might think "Why the hell should I upgrade?".

On the other hand your argument makes a lot of sense too, the price/performance ratio for components has never been more attractive and it is really getting to the point where having anything less than a PII/64Mb RAM/440BX/PC100 sort of system is becoming untenable, and it's about time people moved on. Not to mention that running Windows 9x has always been untenable ... lol ... :lol:

To put yet another slant on it though (my, I'm jumpy today), I can think of a good reason that attempts should still be made to ensure that older hardware can be used to perform useful tasks. Think of impoverished third world countries and disadvantaged or technologically unexposed communities. In that case the argument doesn't carry so much weight - and it seems heinous to just burn computers or landfill them (computers are an extraordinary cost on environmental resources in the first place). In this light, having access to computing in the first place is more of an issue than nitpicking over performance benchmarks. Some organisations do some very good work in that area. And old PCs can make good terminals too.
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BlackBart
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

part of it is people do have new hardware and they just have an old box that they don't use and decide to install linux on it, or their old box is a laptop (my case) and a new one costs more than $250
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delta407
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kerframil wrote:
And if it had been serving the purpose for the user in question, then he (or she) might think "Why the hell should I upgrade?".
I neglected to mention the countless hours this user has spent trying various Windows 95 'power user' tools, registry hacks, and tweaking INI files. And his burning desire for Netscape 7. And his recent attempt to move to a wireless network... :roll:

kerframil wrote:
I can think of a good reason that attempts should still be made to ensure that older hardware can be used to perform useful tasks.
Well, of course. I will shortly be sticking Gentoo onto half a dozen 486 boxen to use as X terminals; they make good thin clients. But, when you remember that we're talking about Gentoo -- you know, the distro that requires some serious processing power and a high degree of connectivity to get running in the first place (much less to stay current) -- pushing to get the oldest possible hardware running seems silly. Yes, it can be done if you know what you're doing and can solve problems in nonstandard ways, but in most cases it isn't worth it.

kerframil wrote:
In this light, having access to computing in the first place is more of an issue than nitpicking over performance benchmarks.
Yes, but again, this is Gentoo. People in said third-world countries that lack computers probably won't have an Internet connection, much less a fast one, which makes using Gentoo a little more complicated. They won't need up-to-the-minute new releases of software, they won't need a distro optimized to get the last ounce of speed out of their decrepit hardware (again, since slow is better than none), and they won't need to be able to pick and choose about every package that's on their system. They need something that will run with no connectivity, something that is not likely to break, and something that will be simple enough to fix if something goes wrong (a la the standard Windows "reformat, re-install" cure). In that instance, I would strongly advise against Gentoo, and more towards Red Hat, Mandrake, or even a pirated copy of Windows.

Basically, I guess what I'm saying is that unless you are sure you have good reasons to want Gentoo on your old hardware, you probably don't want Gentoo on your old hardware. Good reasons include: experienced Linux user looking for less bloat/more speed, lots of network connectivity, lots of beefier hardware lying around (distcc, /usr/portage local mirror, etc.). Bad reasons include: I want to try out Linux, I'm on a modem, or I'm impatient or angered by things that break.

I hope I didn't spook anyone; not everyone with Gentoo is as opinionated as I. And, as always, your mileage may vary. ;)
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes, but again, this is Gentoo

I wasn't talking specifically about Gentoo but yes, agreed on most points and in lieu of the above, quite! Behold, for these are the Gentoo Forums and lo, this thread is perhaps in grave danger of traversing off on a tangent that would flummox even the world's greatest trigonometrists and maybe even attracting the bright and beady eye of a disgruntled forum administrator who will rapidly relegate our misguided musings to Off The Wall (or pehaps a new Politics section is needed)! Of course sir, I merely jest ...

<straight-faced>Anyhow, I'll certainly be interested in davidson's mileage if he goes ahead with it.</straight-faced>

Quote:
not everyone with Gentoo is as opinionated as I
I am! (joking again, sorry ... really must stop with these late nights)
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2002 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Delta that Gentoo may not be distro to be used in all cases. If the want a useable system maybe try and older version of Redhat 7.3 or 6.2, Gentoo really does crave as much hardware as you can throw at it. All the optimization ability of Gentoo seems to merely make fast hardware faster, generally not slow hardware decent. Everything in Gentoo is latest, but if you want Linux on old hardware I wouldn't recommend it.

But, if you want to try it more power to you and I hope it works out well.
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davidson
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i still havnt given it a shot yet but i am going to in a few days.. i have just been quite busy lately to install it but im going to give it a shot. just so you know i am running currently right now on my old pc windows 2000 with no trouble at all.. and it runs pretty good for a p233 32mb of ram so if gentoo will run as good as 2000 in gui mode then i will be happy :wink:
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find Windows 2000 on my girlfriends computer 500MHz and 256MB to be slow and on my Mom's 366 pretty bad. However that may just be the perceived lag and not actual slowness. Your system should be pretty reasonable. For best results go with a *box.
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