Linux, the day after
Sunday, January 18, 2009 11:03:56 PM
Let me summarize:
In these last days I've burned 6 or 7 CDs, installed Kubuntu, Xubuntu, tried to install Fedora from LiveCD but failed, Puppy Linux, OpenSUSE where it failed the LiveCD but succeeded with network install.
Everything Over my secondary 4Giga partition, PIII 500 - 256Mega of RAM.
First thought is the small distros like Puppy are nice but look awful, like lets say Win95 - Win 3.11, while the big distros look very good but do not work on the same hardware where I can run WinXP without problems. Both the Gnome and KDE based desktops require much more CPU and RAM than mine. Opening any application means going 100% with both. XFCE desktop is borderline. Unfortunately using XFCE you don't get any real XFCE application, besides some utilities, so you have two options, either you limit yourself to the few "pure" GTK-only applications like Abiword or Gnumeric, or you end in using Gnome apps like Openoffice in the XFCE environment. It works better than regular/full GNOME but still is is demanding on old hardware. Anyway, the fact that all the big distros are providing XFCE "spins" means they are aware of Gnome and KDE being "heavy", so they are probably seeing XFCE like some sort of compromise between a "not so bad" graphics and a "not so slow" hardware.
Edit: these are the system requirements from Debian, that are probably the more accurate:
|A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop.|
Among the distros I've tried, I do not like those based on KDE because I am not comfortable with the new KDE 4x. I've met big problems with Ubuntu and derivatives not handling well my monitor (while Fedora and SUSE handled it well). I liked much the OpenSUSE installer and their Gnome desktop is very "professional". I found a little difficult to install/remove software then because I was shown "packages" and "dependencies" instead the software name only. You know, those things that remind you about good old Linux.
On a side note, when you mess with Linux and Windows together get prepared to deal with problems related to the boot loader and the partitions. Basically you need the Windows install CD with Ubuntu to fix the MBR from the recovery console (fixmbr - fixboot) and in some cases like OpenSUSE you may need a boot floppy or CD with Fdisk to manually remove some "extended" hidden partition which contains the Grub.
On a side note, I don't understand the "source-based" distros like Gentoo. Besides being very difficult to learn, their goal is to be very optimized on your hardware. But to download the source and compile it you need to dedicate half of your hardware, plus you must spend days with compiling and setting. There must be something I do not understand but to me it looks like a game for geeks.
Now I am back to my old Win2K desktop.
Again, I could not find a suitable Linux alternative, also considering my own software selection.
I keep trying because I really dislike the idea of being so much tied by licenses and system requirements.