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Lightweight But Capable Distro for P4 / 2.66 GHZ Box?
Planet13




msg:4611627
 7:12 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Can you suggest a Linux distro that is light enough to be snappy on an older P4 / 2.66GHZ / 1 Gig Ram box, but will still allow me to easily download and run apps for photo editing, emailing, web browsing, coding, word-compatible documents, and spreadsheets?

Trying to balance responsiveness with usability. I also want to make sure that my hardware will work with it to, so driver availability is pretty important.

Thinking of moving my old XP PRO (SP3) box to Linux because it has gotten SO SLOW. Also, support for XP stops in April of 2014.

Since I am a Linux noob (can you tell?) I was just hoping for some input on what might be a good distro for a machine like mine.

Thanks in advance.

(I can't upgrade the RAM more than 1 Gig. That is the limit according to the manufacturer.)

 

dstiles




msg:4611631
 8:02 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Linux Mint Maya Mate

Maya because it's L(ong)T(erm)S(upport) (later versions are not LTS - I think there's about 3 years to go on Maya).

Mate because it's a reasonable desktop that's easy to understand (alternatives: cinnamon (was semi-beta when I chose Mint a year or so ago; xfre (no experience of it).

I recently bought an old XP machine to install as a backup mail server and general purpose background unit. 70 got me 2x Intel Pentium 4 3.4Ghz with 1Gbyte memory and 73G disk. My laptop is smaller (info not available at the moment but I think 500Mb memory). I have another desktop machine with 1G memory that ran Ubuntu for years before updating to Mint (which I far prefer as a desktop). My everyday machine now is about 4 times better (still Mint).

I run gimp for editing pics (Eye of Mate for simple viewing), thunderbird and firefox, Kate for web site design, Libre (open office) when forced to do something with documents (NOTE: Access files cannot be accessed directly in any linux but spreadsheet/word reasonable). If all else fails, check out wine (WINdows Emulator).

If you have a mixed windows/linux network you may want to use smb4k as a network connector but it's possible (and to me preferable) to use other methods.

I run a variety of other tools but my biggest "payload" is probably firefox, with at least 4 windows (sometimes 7 or 8) with approx ten tabs per window. This used to be on the Ubuntu m/c mentioned above until I upgraded.

Also attached: 3Tbyte and 1Tbyte USB drives (others on other machines in network). The 1Tbyte drive serves for backup - I successfully use luckyBackup running on one machine to backup linux and windows machines.

Planet13




msg:4611645
 9:13 pm on Sep 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the info and suggestion, dstiles:

I will try out Maya with the mate desktop and see how it goes.

I didn't realize that other versions of Linux Mint were still available so I TRIED to use Olivia (version 15) with cinnamon and it appears to have problems. For instance, I get a message:

Cinnamon just crashed. You are currently running in Fallback Mode.

And when I try to restart cinnamon, I just keep getting the same message.

The other thing is I tried to watch a video on youtube while using the default firefox browser install and the video was all jenked up. Half the video was green, the other half was purple, and the video image was pretty small.

~~~~

Just in case Linux Mint Maya DOESN'T work out, any other suggestions out there?

dstiles




msg:4611846
 8:14 pm on Sep 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Can't comment on olivia (see LTS above) nor cinnamon (I wonder if it is still not fully hardened?).

The firefox display suggests a display driver problem? I assume you updated Mint fully before using it. :)

I never use FF "out of the box" - at very minimum I install NoScript, AdBlock and FlashBlock. Even on linux I'm careful about what I let in. :)

graeme_p




msg:4611910
 5:54 am on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Mint Mate is user friendly, well put together and has a helpful community so I would try to get it to work first. I would not expect Cinnamon to work well on an older machine.

If it does not work, you could look at:

Lubuntu
Crunchbang
Peppermint
Antix
Fedora XFCE and LXDE spins
Bodhi Linux
Debian + E17

I use Fedora XFCE on my oldest PC and it works fine on a processor one generation more recent than a P4 (forgotten what its called!).

They offer different trade-offs - user friendly vs effciency vs learning curve vs community vs repository size.

As you say you are a Lnux newbie repository = app store.

Planet13




msg:4612046
 3:02 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

"The firefox display suggests a display driver problem? I assume you updated Mint fully before using it. :)"


Of course not :)

I would have had I been able to watch the video, which was: "7 things to do after installing linux mint 13", in which apparently they tell you that you are supposed to update the software / drivers first.

(Linux Mint should really say update drivers and software first on the welcome screen that automatically pops up.)

"Mint Mate is user friendly, well put together and has a helpful community so I would try to get it to work first. I would not expect Cinnamon to work well on an older machine."


I just installed Mint 13 Mate on my OTHER P4 2.6 with hyper threading, 1 gig ram, and it seems to be doing well. Maybe the hyper threading helps? Or maybe Mate is just a lot easier on the processor than Cinnamon.

~~~~

I would try some of the other installs, but it seems like they are difficult to set up in a dual boot with win xp.

Linux Mint (and unbuntu) seem to have a built installer that allows you to easily install (and uninstall) them as dual boot.

Do the other distros like antiX and fedora and lubuntu, etc., have some sort of a built in installer to easily allow for a dual boot setup?

Or do I have to use some software to add a partition to my current hard drive (which alread has Win XP on it in one big NTFS partition) to install those distros as dual boot?

Planet13




msg:4612050
 3:30 pm on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I use Fedora XFCE on my oldest PC and it works fine on a processor one generation more recent than a P4 (forgotten what its called!).


That's a good question.

I think for desktops, it went (older to more recent):

P4
Pentium D
Dual Core
Core 2 Duo

But would like to know the exact order, too.

graeme_p




msg:4612211
 6:46 am on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Or maybe Mate is just a lot easier on the processor than Cinnamon.


I do not know how much lighter on the processor it is, but it is a lot less demanding on the graphics hardware and is a lot more mature. Cinnamon follows a traditional desktop metaphor, but the code is all new, and the graphics flashy, whereas MATE is a fork of old Gnome 2 code updated to work with new libraries and with a lot of new features.

Little idea about dual boot. Anything that uses the Ubuntu installer should do it, and a good many other installers also make dual boot installs reasonably easy but I am not sure exactly which ones.

[edited by: graeme_p at 6:54 am (utc) on Sep 24, 2013]

Planet13




msg:4612214
 6:53 am on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks, graeme;

It seems darn hard to find dual boot install info for many of the different distros.

~~~~~

And on another topic...

I just WASTED about 6 hours getting my other computer ready for a dual boot installation of linux mint. Much of that time was spent defragging my hard drive so that I can partition it correctly.

Also, I thought I would give Win XP ONE last try to redeem itself as my main OS by following the standard procedures for removing bloatware, etc.,

No dice. Still takes ten minutes to boot up and launch a firefox window.

I am really starting to line linux now.

graeme_p




msg:4612216
 7:03 am on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Note I just edited my previous comment to correct "less mature" to "more mature"!

Lubuntu and (I think) Bodhi Linux use the Ubuntu installer, so should have the same support for dual boot installs. Fedora should also have support in the installer. No idea about the others.

If XP is going to be your secondary OS, then, depending on exactly what you still use it for, it may be easier to have a single boot install and run XP in a VM. It works very nicely in VirtualBox.

Planet13




msg:4612307
 2:54 pm on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi again, Graeme:

Thanks again for the advice.

"If XP is going to be your secondary OS, then, depending on exactly what you still use it for, it may be easier to have a single boot install and run XP in a VM."

I will have to look into what a virtual box is.

I am still incredibly new to linux, but as it looks now, I THINK I would prefer to (eventually) have JUST linux and run about three or four of the xp apps I have through wine (namely, my payroll program and quicken home and business 2011 and an old version of photoshop 7 and illustrator 9).

Notepad++ seems to work well in linux mint, so I am VERY happy about that.

Now if I can find a good POS system (as I mentioned in my other thread) I can then kick windows to the curb...

dstiles




msg:4612377
 6:39 pm on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Remember your own comment in the original posting: XP (and 2003) is going to lose its updates next April and hence will be very dangerous online.

One solution I've mentioned elsewhere is: run an XP machine for non-internet use (set the firewall for local network only) and use linux anything online. This may be a better solition than trying to run "custom" software under wine or similar. There is a list of known working apps at (I think) winehq but not everything that works is listed there.

Also remember that running XP from wine or any other vmware MAY still render the computer vulnerable to online exploits.

You may well find Kate or Geany to be a better option that notepad. Downside of Kate is that it's a KDE tool but it is a good one with a lot of extras, more equivalent to the far better MS app textpad than notepad. Geany is (I think) a gnome equivalent to Kate.

Planet13




msg:4612458
 11:19 pm on Sep 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi there, dstiles:

Thanks for your response. Unfortunately I am not sure I understand exactly the implications of what you are saying though...

"Also remember that running XP from wine or any other vmware MAY still render the computer vulnerable to online exploits."


1) Are ALL windows-based application vulnerable when run on linux via Wine?

I don't want to run XP but hope that I can run a few apps that I already own (like photoshop 7, illustrator 9, Quickbooks point of sale, Notepad++, etc., ) under Wine WITHOUT causing any security holes.

So if I don't run XP under linux VM, but instead run the .exe apps under wine, will I be safe?

2) Follow up: It sounds like you are saying that Office 2003 will be vulnerable no matter what / how it is run. Is that right?

~~~~~

Ideally, I will eventually be wiping Windows off of my four machines and using ONLY Linux. But until then I would prefer for them to be dual boot until I am sure that a couple of critical applications can 1) either run under Wine, or 2) can be replaced by a suitable / better true linux replacement.

Those apps are:

QuickBooks Point Of Sale(POS)Multi Storefront
Paywindow Payroll
Quicken Home And Business 2011

~~~~

"You may well find Kate or Geany to be a better option that notepad."


Ahh... I am talking about Notepad++

[notepad-plus-plus.org...]

Not the default Windows notepad / textpad

graeme_p




msg:4612505
 6:05 am on Sep 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Linux is not short of good text editors, so its worth trying a few. The nearest Gnome equivalent of Kate is probably GEdit. Geany is more of a lightweight IDE and is very good. Both Geany and Komodo Edit are based on the same Scintilla editing component as Notepad++, as is KomodoI DE (proprietary and expensive, Komodo Edit is free). All but the Komodo ones are in the default Ubuntu repositories (Komodo have their own you can add). There are a LOT more.

Are ALL windows-based application vulnerable when run on linux via Wine?


Vulnerabilities in the app itself are about equally exploitable under WINE and Windows itself - although I suspect the system will be a lot less vulnerable overall.

I do not see that you need to worry too much about apps that do not connect to the network.

Linux equivalents to Photoshop and Illustrator (Gimp and Inkscape) are quite powerful BUT the UI is different. No idea about replacements for the critical apps. Have you checked [appdb.winehq.org ] ? If they are really critical, and you cannot find replacements, it may be worth paying for Codeweavers Crossover: [codeweavers.com ]

It is safer to run XP in a VM, as it isolates it - it can only access stuff on its own virtual drive. You can also store and restore snapshots - so if it gets infected, you can just roll back. I mentioned Virtualbox because it lets you share folders (which look like network drives to the VM) and has a nice "seamless windows" feature. The problem with VMs is that they use more memory so you may be better off with WINE on an older machine,

One thing I do not like about Mint (its the main reason I am using Ubuntu with MATE) is that you have to reinstall from install media to upgrade to a new versions. Most Linux distros let you to a network upgrade from a GUI.

robzilla




msg:4612531
 8:19 am on Sep 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Try Elementary OS. It feels pretty snappy.

Planet13




msg:4612593
 2:35 pm on Sep 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ graeme_p

Thanks for the detailed responses. They are a big help to someone new to learning Linux like myself.

Right now, I am sort of overwhelmed learning to use Linux, so for me, it is probably best to stick with some of the apps I already know. Down the line I can learn how to use some of the native linux apps.

For now, the less learning of new apps for me, the better. But yeah, the end game is to basically remove any trace of XP or any apps that depend on it by the time Apr 2014 rolls around.

Thanks again.

Planet13




msg:4612601
 2:55 pm on Sep 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

@ robzilla


Try Elementary OS. It feels pretty snappy.


Thank you for the suggestion.

I just installed Bodhi Linux on the same machine that I am trying out Mint 13 Mate and Bodhi Linux is noticably "snappier" than Mint 13.

However, it is also noticeably more confusing for someone like me (apparently, a lot of EXPERIENCED Linux people find the Enlightenment windows manager / desktop confusing).

And for such a nice looking OS, they seem to have incredibly dorky looking icons for the clock, wi-fi, power, etc.,

So I guess ideally I am looking for something with the low overhead of Bodhi while being a bit easier for new Linux users to navigate around and get stuff done.

~~~~

By the way: To anybody trying to install Bodhi, I highly suggest making a bootable USB with unetbootin.

I tried using a CD and that didn't work for my machine. I tried using a bootable USB made with a "multiboot" app, and that didn't work either.

But the USB with unetbootin worked fine. It seems that lots of people who have installed Bodhi realized this, too.

dstiles




msg:4612671
 7:29 pm on Sep 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

planet13 - I included ALL windows notepads in that statement. I use a couple of versions on a windows server but prefer textpad (a very old version: newer ones are bloated). I find kate better that any notepad or even the version of textpad I run.

I bow to the other posters' comments on wine: I have little actual experience with it: I try to be a linux "purist" as far as possible. :)

graeme - I am sort of forced to use gedit/pluma in some circumstances and do not get on well with it. Probably just me but I need more features than gedit/pluma seem to have. :)

My brother invested in cross-over but it seemed to me more or less wine with paid-for support. Am I wrong in that?

graeme_p




msg:4612839
 7:11 am on Sep 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

dstiles, I agree Kate is better than Gedit, but I think there are options that are better still: Komodo Edit or Bluefish for HTML and Javascript. I am currently trying to decide between Ninja, Geany and Gvim for Python.

I use Gedit only for quick edits on remote servers - using a different editor helps remind me that I am working on the remote rather than local copy of something.

Yes, its just WINE with support - and I think some utilities for installation etc. I mention it because it may be worth paying for support if an app is really critical.

@Planet13, once you have an install, you can install other desktops without a clean reinstall - so now you have Bodhi Linux installed you can install xubuntu-desktop, lubuntu-desktop etc. from Synaptic.

I would quite like to try Bodhi Linux, but I am loath to mess around with a system that works well for me. People around here may also find it offensive (as in go to jail, rather than mildly upset).

dstiles




msg:4612993
 7:15 pm on Sep 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I use kate for editing ASP as well as looking at log and similar files when I need to modify them with regex or do some serious searching (gedit's search is very primitive). I run gedit on conf type stuff (quite a bit at the moment, trying to get postfix/dovecot running). I've never tried editing direct from remote servers - probably a bit awkward as my web server is windows and in any case I view logs on that server through RDP. :(

I tried bluefish a few years back on ubuntu (hardy, as I recall) and found it kept crashing. probably fixed by now but old habits... :)

Geany I tried when smb4k played up recently. I was able to read from windows machines within the local network fairly easily, as I recall, without using smb4k. I have now found out how to do that with kate using gvs; possibly through mnt as well but permission problems crop up sometimes.

Building a "light-weight" linux, as mentioned in the OP: I would warn against KDE unless it's absolutely neccessary. There is a lot of (apparent?) bloat which MAY slow things down (eg kalarm on older ubuntu machines was stand-alone: now it integrates with a complete (unwanted) PIM service which is "compulsory"). If you can keep to a Mate / Gnome combination it should be lighter. Also remove bluetooth unless actually needed. The tasks do not take up a lot of CPU time/space but they are running unnecessarily.

In fact, there is a tendency in Mint as in other OS's to add things that the designers think are cute/useful but which are not required by a large number of users (bluetooth being an example). Fairly easy to remove if you know what's going on and are confident/competent but a nuisance and it takes a while to find out such things. This isn't a particular complaint against Mint or any other linux: it's the same in all computerised machines from desktops to mobiles.

The above being my own worldly opinion, of course. :)

Planet13




msg:4613092
 6:19 am on Sep 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the opinions, guys.

So I have been looking at / playing around with a few different distros and it looks like:

1) Wife's Computer: Linux Mint 13 Mate
P4 2.6 GHZ Hyper Threading 1 Gig Ram.

Linux Mint 13 system takes up about 190 megs of ram, and since she uses it exclusively for watching videos or sending email, this she work fine. It is a little slow, but my wife ain't all that quick with technology.

2) Two Office Computers: Linux Bodhi 2.4
P4 2.2 GHZ 1 Gig (or maybe only 512 meg) of RAM

These will be used for running our Point Of Sale system (whichever that turns out to be - still ain't sure).

Bodhi is NOT particularly user friendly, which is fine. I don't want the employees using the machines for anything else than ringing up sales on the POS system.

3) Office Machine for me: Dual Boot Bodhi Linux 2.4 64-bit and ...?

I am treating myself to a "new" machine: Dell Optiplex 780 for $100.

I figure for a hundred even it is worth it for core 2 duo running at 3 GHZ with 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM at 1066 GHZ, and a 160 gig hard drive.

Although I understand that many people HATE it, I kind of like the Bodhi Linux desktop / window manager, and I LOVE the speed. Windows open quickly and menus expand instantaneously. I like the multiple virtual "workspaces" too.

I figure this will be a good combo to have all my stuff running on at one time.

I figure a 160 gig SATA drive should be good for putting a second OS on as well. What that will be, I am just not sure yet. Maybe something more like windows so maybe Mint 13 or Elementary OS or...

Will let you know how it goes.

graeme_p




msg:4613096
 6:59 am on Sep 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

You do not need dual boot to have multiple Linux desktops. You just install the desktops from the software installer and choose between them when you login (rather than at boot).

You can install the Pantheon desktop from Elementary on top of Ubuntu, and you can do the same with MATE, XFCE etc. Bodhi Linux does not support this - but if you like experimenting you could start with Bodhi, and then install Unity (the ubuntu standard one) and the rest on top of it.

At the moment I have Ubuntu Unity and MATE installed (but I always use MATE) and I am thinking of trying Pantheon.

I would like to hear how Bodhi Linux works out for you after a few weeks. Its been a while since I tried Enlightenment.

For the POS machines, you do have the option of locking down employees access to only the POS application. It also seems a good place to use a really minimal desktop like LXDE, IceWM or Openbox.

Planet13




msg:4613319
 8:34 pm on Sep 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

OK, I chickened out... sort of...

So on my "new" core 2 duo machine I have installed Linux Mint 13 Mate 64-bit OS, and unless there is some major problem, I will probably stick with it for now and just hold off on installing Bodhi Linux as a dual boot.

Running it on the core 2 duo seems snappy enough... and the desktop seems similar enough to windows that I am able to use it without scratching my head too much.

We'll see how it goes installing Bodhi on the two remaining P4 machines...

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4613321
 8:36 pm on Sep 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

How much memory is it taking up for you after booting up?

Slightly OT, I've been running Debian minimal on some VPS (no GUI, Apache removed)... and it takes up a princely 12MB of RAM.

Planet13




msg:4613399
 4:27 am on Sep 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

"How much memory is it taking up for you after booting up? "

Do you mean for Linux Mint on the Core 2 Duo Box?

I haven't checked yet... don't know what app / widget / thingy to use to check.

Is that what Conky is for?!?!?! I originally thought "conky" was Latin for "mess up your desktop".

graeme_p




msg:4613408
 6:52 am on Sep 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just in case anyone feels like installing Pantheon Ubuntu, I just read some reviews and forum comments which say it can mess up other desktops.

That still leaves plenty of desktops to play with, but MATE is my favourite, except it seems to freeze very occasionally, which I am NOT happy about.

robzilla




msg:4613413
 8:49 am on Sep 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Treat yourself to a (small) SSD disk to really get the most out of that Optiplex 780; it'll make it fly. You can probably get a good 40 GB Intel or Samsung disk for less than $50, maybe even half that if you go second-hand. And you can always keep using that 160 GB drive for extra storage.

graeme_p




msg:4613426
 9:26 am on Sep 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

If I did that I would be inclined to put most things on the SSD (i.e. /) and put home directories (i.e. /home) on the hard drive.

If I have a single HDD I always partition it into / and /home anyway. That way I can do a full reinstall with minimal risk to data.

dstiles




msg:4613485
 6:04 pm on Sep 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

planet13 - hardinfo is a very useful tool for looking into system resources.

Also System Monitor (for Mate: mate-system-monitor) which shows what tasks are running, how much memory/cpu is used etc. In some cases the graphs in System Monitor run up to near 100% for no reason - just being greedy, I think - but it's reasonably accurate up to the point where you select the graphs tab. Also useful for aborting unwanted/unexpected tasks, but use with care!

And, of course, in a Terminal window type: top - that shows total and current memory, swap, cpu etc plus top tasks usage.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4613499
 7:10 pm on Sep 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

>show memory usage

I usually use top, take the "used" value and deduct the "cached" value from it to get an idea of memory requirement.

Also found this a while back which I keep having to Google to use, but very handy, display processes and their memory usage in KiloBytes:
ps -e -orss=,args= | sort -b -k1,1n | pr -TW$COLUMNS

Also worth digging around the /proc/ folder to get an idea of setup.

This 53 message thread spans 2 pages: 53 ( [1] 2 > >
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