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Thursday·25·May·2006

New talk proposal, new Linux distribution found //at 01:47 //by abe

from the ray-of-hope dept.

After talking with some LinuxTag guys about which kind of talks are still missing for the upcoming LinuxTag, I submitted another proposal for a still only roughly sketched talk: KISS – Keep it simple and stupid, also on the web.

KISS – “Keep it simple and stupid” is an old and successful principle in the Unix world: Small and simple programs, doing only one thing, but they’re doing perfect, fast and reliable. This principle can also work on the web and make webservers or surf terminals out of already discharged computers.

I planned to show “simple” (or at least “simple to use”) tools like Blosxom or the Website Meta Language, a more slim webserver than Apache (e.g. fefe’s fnord or one of the ACME webservers thttpd, mini_httpd or micro_httpd), slim web-browsers (e.g. like Dillo, Opera, glinks, ViewML or Minimo) and one or more Linux distributions optimized for low end PCs. While thinking about low end PCs, usually the following distributions come to my mind: DeLi Linux, fli4l and Debian Woody.

But none of them seems to fit for my talk as perfectly as I would like:

  • DeLi Linux is no bad distribution, since it’s designed especially for 386 to Pentium I, but I have some strong disagreements with the maintainer of DeLi Linux, since he sees a very small package list as necessary requirement for a distribution for old PCs. He states that distributions for old PCs “don’t have that many harddisk space” (beyond other, more realistic arguments — but it seemed to be his main argument) while I see a rich package diversity as an quality criteria. (One of the reasons, why I like Debian and dislike Ubuntu.) So I’m not sure if I should present a very raped DeLi Linux to the audience, just to make it fit my needs, although I’m quite curious about his upcoming 0.7 release with the low end, KHTML based ViewML webbrowser. (Apart from me seeing PHP5 and KDE as a big nono on old PCs…)
  • Although I still like Debian Woody very much (you know that old story… ;-), it is just too old for making a talk about how to turn old PCs into being usable again. Sarge would be fine, but it was suggested to showcase an easy and fast way to get something ready to run, and I can’t give the auditors a list of all the Debian packages with low resource consumption and therefore usable on low end PCs.
  • I haven’t used it yet, but fli4l seems to be very good distribution to turn an old PC into a ISDN or DSL router, even without harddisk. The last time I had a look at fli4l, it used an Apache as (optional) webserver, which wouldn’t fit into my scheme, since I would like to show an alternative to Apache. But as I found out today the recently released version 3.0 of fli4l uses the already mentioned ACME mini_httpd. Cool! They’re on the right way! ;-) Unfortunately it only seems to be used for serving information pages about the fli4l status and not as common webserver. (Please correct me, if this is wrong! I would appreciate it, if I’m wrong at this point. :-)

Since I first read about viewml on the DeLi Linux page, I looked for Debian packages of viewml today. apt-cache search hasn’t found anything on Woody or Sarge and packages.debian.org is still down, so I used Google. I found out,  that there at least was a viewml package in Debian since at least 2001, so I expect, it just didn’t make it to stable.

But I also found this interesting page on a webserver called www.ubuntulite.org. Ubuntu Lite? That sounds very interesting, since I see Ubuntu not as the baddest idea (expect for it’s horribly resource hunger and only offering one package per application by default ;-), but having an Ubuntu derivative prepackaged for low end PCs and with several webbrowsers instead of only Epiphany (and probably Firefox, don’t they?) would be perfect for my purpose.

So I’m currently downloading an Ubuntu Lite ISO and will give it a try on one of my Pentium MMX boxes. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to support Pentium I or AMD K5 since Ubuntu itself only supports i686 and upwards. :-/

But this also means, that it’s no occasion for my Pentium I Compaq LTE 5100 (which I probably will name pony), but currently, after Bartosz’ recent post on Planet Debian, it looks like Debian GNU/kFreeBSD could also be an interesting OS, since it fits all requirements perfectly: Free, Modern, Exotic and all conveniences of Debian. ;-)

Now Playing: Jefferson Starship — We Built This City

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert

About...

This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the IT Support Group (ISG) of the Departement of Physics at ETH Zurich.

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