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Lightweight Linux





Phinx
As i continue to unravel the misteries of the Linux world, i come across the categorie of so called 'Ligweight Linux'. What is a lightweight linux? Well it is basically a linux derivative, based on major systems like Debian, Slackware and so on, that uses Openbox, Fluxbox, IceWM, XFCE or other desktop enviroment rather than GNOME or KDE, to reduce resource consumption and has software preinstalled that will use as little memory as possible, opposed to such megabrands as OpenOffice. This gives your old hardware one more chance to shine.

So the question is, how many of you actually are interested in these nifty little alternatives? Does anyone here actually uses any of these little wonders?

So far i'm just a beginner, browsing through names like Wolvis, Vector Linux, Puppy Linux, Arch Linux. Can't say anything very specific just yet, i need another week to have something inresting to announce Smile
sheedatali
Of course they have their usage, I have used pretty much all of them. From a typical desktop user perspective, they are not suitable. They are meant to be for experienced to advanced users who can workout things on their own etc. And of course they are very handy when you want to carry something mobile on a USB stick and use it as your OS. Typical systems out there these days are too powerful for such distributions but they are very handy indeed in certain situations.
Peterssidan
I use Arch Linux for my laptop and I think it's lightweight if you want it to be lightweight. From the start you don't even have X installed so it's almost as lightweight as it can get. After that you can install whatever you want and it get less "lightweight". I installed Xfce because I don't want to stress the computer too much because it easily gets hot. But I installed OpenOffice, and other more heavy applications because I need them. The computer is quite powerful so in my case the CPU usage was number one priority to keep as low as possible to avoid overheat and not so much memory consumption.

If it's lightweight it probably doesn't have as much unnecessary packages installed that you never need which can be good but it often requires a bit higher knowledge from the user.

"Lightweight" doesn't necessary mean it's less user-friendly but of course if you go far enough and start off with almost nothing it will require more from it's user.
ocalhoun
Personally, I find them extraordinarily useful for servers, giving an easier-to-work-with GUI interface without using up significant resources.

For flash drive or live CD installations, I still prefer a more full-featured GUI, in order to be fully useful, though slow. (The exception to this being distros built on lightweight GUI's, and intended to be a platform for the use of software tools.)

For any other purpose, I'll be using KDE, or maybe one of the other full-featured GUI's.

(A particular distro is not necessarily 'light' or 'heavy', as long as it contains a variety of GUI choices. I use OpenSuSE as both a lightweight and a heavyweight distro, by changing the installation settings.)
harismushtaq
Man my computer has 2GBs of memore and a 2.0 Ghz processor. I use Windwos XP and Ubuntu 8.10. Both of them run lightening fast even after one year of isntallation. My system is not considered a bit slower as compared to what is available in the market and is still so fast on all these tools. I think I may never need these linux versions. Thanks
Fire Boar
I keep Puppy on my aging 256MB USB memory stick. The whole thing clocks in at 90MB, so I've still got a fair bit of storage and I can use it to boot into pretty much anything. Invaluable for rescuing Windows computers that have been wrecked by a virus.
ProfessorY91
Fire Boar wrote:
I keep Puppy on my aging 256MB USB memory stick. The whole thing clocks in at 90MB, so I've still got a fair bit of storage and I can use it to boot into pretty much anything. Invaluable for rescuing Windows computers that have been wrecked by a virus.


I will definitely support Puppy Linux. Puppy Linux can be installed entirely on the RAM of a computer if you have enough of it. Usually 256MB is good. I have an extremely old Dell Latitude CSx, Pentium II, (thats right II !) processor, and somewhere around 256MB of RAM. Puppy Linux runs fast, supports full web browsing, text editing, and other simple tasks. It is extremely useful on old computers. It even can save files to the hard drive, as well as a config file that saves your settings.

I've never tried to run it off of a flash drive, but it looks like it has been done.

Awesome.
welshsteve
I've used Puppy Linux, and DSL (DamnSmallLinux). Great for running from memory stick.
Fire Boar
ProfessorY91 wrote:
I've never tried to run it off of a flash drive, but it looks like it has been done.


Has been done, can be done, well supported... in fact it's easy - just choose the option to do so in the installer! I made mine in a pretty round-about way that meant I didn't have to burn a CD at all. I created a virtual machine and mounted the ISO image on that, then enabled my USB stick as a virtual device. With very good results.
ProfessorY91
Fire Boar wrote:
I made mine in a pretty round-about way that meant I didn't have to burn a CD at all. I created a virtual machine and mounted the ISO image on that, then enabled my USB stick as a virtual device. With very good results.


Out of curiosity, on an existing puppy installation, can you use a flash drive to extend the amount of available RAM?

Another thing I'm wondering is if you're able to save your config file on the flash drive itself. That would be the epitome of awesomeness :D
Fire Boar
I'm pretty sure the answer to the first question is "no" - unless you do something strange like make a swap partition on the flash drive in which case yes (and it's easy).

The second question is a definite yes, in fact it prompts you to do so when you shut down. You can save to the flash device, save to another location, or not save at all.
escritor
I like the concepts of Zenwalk:

Quote:
Modern and user-friendly (latest stable software, selected applications)
Fast (optimized for performance capabilities)
Rational (one mainstream application for each task)
Complete (full development/desktop/multimedia environment)
Evolutionary (simple network package management tool - netpkg)
HalfBloodPrince
I was thinking I'd need a lightweight Linux distro for my desktop (three years old, 512 MB RAM, not too great). I already had Ubuntu on my 4 GB Core 2 Duo notebook and decided to try it on the desktop before downloading a lightweight distro, yet it worked nearly as fast as on my laptop. That was weird. Very Happy
Fire Boar
HalfBloodPrince wrote:
I was thinking I'd need a lightweight Linux distro for my desktop (three years old, 512 MB RAM, not too great). I already had Ubuntu on my 4 GB Core 2 Duo notebook and decided to try it on the desktop before downloading a lightweight distro, yet it worked nearly as fast as on my laptop. That was weird. Very Happy


Yes, Linux has a habit of running just the same on everything. So for old hardware, you're guaranteed to notice a huge boost in performance if switching from Windows. Newer hardware not so much, but still a little bit.

I've put Fedora 11 on a computer that's almost 10 years old now. Works perfectly, booting in under 30 seconds. So I'd only say lightweight distros are really necessary for either servers which need to focus exclusively on one task, and things that really are lacking in hardware. Like... say... a toaster.
mOrpheuS
Phinx wrote:
So the question is, how many of you actually are interested in these nifty little alternatives? Does anyone here actually uses any of these little wonders?

I use minimal installations of Debian/Slackware on my personal webservers.
At fresh build (no additional software installed) they run at around 3-5MB of RAM.

I'm not sure if that's very different from any other distribution of Linux that categorically advertises being "light weight".
Even if performance differences exist, they probably aren't enough to justify not using a more widely used/proven distribution.

I use only Windows for personal/home use, but if I were to choose a Linux distribution for home use, I'd probably make the same choice.
Thankfully, I'm not stuck with underpowered/ancient hardware at home. Wink
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