I then went to Mandrake 8.0 and eventually 8.1. I was really happy with both of these Releases. But I had always wanted to give SUSE a try, however, they stopped giving away their Distro for free. But, I found someone who had 7.3 and installed it. Needless to say, I have been using it ever since. Very nice Install, very nice Admin tools. Good Hardware detection.
As far as Desktops, It depends. If I am doing straight development, I use BlackBox because there is less GUI to slow me down. However, for all other uses, I use Gnome.
I very rarely use a GUI on linux, so I don't really have an opinion on which window manager to choose. The only box I do have a GUI configured on at the moment happens to be Red Hat 7.2 with KDE, but not for any particular reason. I have a couple of non-GUI Red Hat 7.1 boxes, and used to have a couple of SuSE installations too, before I sold the parts.
The machine is again a M$ machine for my sister but I'm looking forward to sourcing some low spec machines to build my own Linux farm.
Typically old machines have small RAM and disk sizes, too, so a lot of the modern "include the kitchen sink just in case" distros don't fit.
I agree it's a great feeling, though, to get an old machine which has been consigned to the trash, and install a perfectly workable Linux-based system on it. And it's incredible what even a really old 25MHz CPU is capable of if you don't load it down with a big GUI interface.
Originally posted by Frank Carver:
... 486sx boxes I have, with the intention of using it as a Java-programmable home timer system. The trick ....
Frank, are you writing the app? If so, could it be done with BigDecimal and some glue code to put the float data on the timer wire?
Just a thought.....
Woops! Unintentional hijack.
[ May 07, 2002: Message edited by: Guy Allard ]
It's actually much simpler than that. The timer system doesn't use floating point at all, but to install and use the "Standard" edition of Java requires floating point whether you use it or not. I'm not really ready to consider J2ME, so the only option is to make sure that the OS supports floating point, either by hardware or by emulation.
The problem with using old hardware for this sort of application is that almost all Linux distributions assume that you are running at least a 486DX, so they don't include floating-point emulation in their initial kernel. SO I have to either find a distro which does include floating point emulation in the default kernel, or compile up a kernel on a different machine and essentially build my own distribution!
I'm very interested in this. What features in particular do you think make Red Hat and Slackware more appropriate than Mandrake?
I realize that Red Hat is the perceived "market leader", but I'm quite surprised at your mention of Slackware rather than SuSE. I haven't seen a Slackware installation in a long time.
Originally posted by Frank Carver:
Smoothwall ( http://www.smoothwall.org/ ) is also a good, solid firewall distribution, although it doesn't install well direct from CD...
I'm surprised, I've never had a problem with doing the smoothwall installation direct from CD. What were the problems that you found with the install?
I tried to install it on a couple of different machines, with at least three attempts at burning a boot CD, and each time it would start to boot but get hung up (at various different places in the boot process). For example, even though booting from CD, it would thrash at the floppy drive as if looking for something.
I got slightly further producing a boot floppy from the supplied images on the CD, but then it had trouble recognizing the rest of the installation on CD. And this is on machines where e-smith, Red Hat, SuSE, Windows(!) etc booted and installed fine.
Another chap eventually got Smoothwall installed on one of these boxes using the boot floppy approach, but I don't know quite what magic he did that I didn't.