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There are lots of people who want to install Linux on older hardware. Linux works well with older hardware in console mode. It doesn't work well with older hardware in GUI mode.

I have just put debian SID on an old Panasonic CF-47 laptop (P-II 366 with 192mb RAM and an 6gb hard drive).

The install uses about 1 gb of hard drive space and has the following:

2.6.7 Kernel 1.1.2
Mozilla-Firefox 0.9.3
Mozilla-Thunderbird 0.7.3
xmms 1.2.10
ALSA Sound
XFree86 4.3.0
XFCE4 (GUI ... instead of KDE or Gnome)

I am able to use this system fairly well, and it is not to slow in X-Windows mode thanks to XFCE4.

I am using it for this post right now, and it is running without using swap space.

So, using XFCE4 seems like a viable alternative to installing an older version of Linux (with security issues) to get X-Windows and a GUI desktop system to work on an older machine.

You do need at least 64mb (128mb if at all possible) to do this ... but even on a pentium 133 it works if you have the RAM.

I am going to perform a Gentoo-2004.2 stage 1 install on this laptop ... then use XCFE4 and see if I can have it be a little faster.

I'll post how it goes in a couple days when finished.
----------------Edited 8/9/04 05:45 CDT----------------
BTW, Pentium-II does NOT contain sse instructions ... so DON'T use -msse (or -msse2) in your gentoo CFLAGS settings for P-II. I did use -msse, so I get to start over. Here is a good P-II CFLAGS setting for gentoo's /etc/make.conf:

CFLAGS="-O3 -march=pentium2 -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer -mmmx"

(Note: If you are compiling gentoo on a Pentium II and the cp command starts telling you illegal instruction instead of copying, make sure you don't have sse set in your CFLAGS)
OK ... Gentoo install is almost complete.

The machine boot with a 2.6.7 kernel,, XMMS, ALSA and XFCE4 are installed and configured. Currently installing, FireFox, and Thunderbird.

One thing I noticed is that there is much more drive space taken up to get the same programs installed (2.2gb in use) ... but I'm sure that is because gentoo saves the latest source files. The same Debian install was only 1.5gb.
This laptop is all finished with the gentoo install. I don't really see much difference between the debian SID and the Gentoo install with the same products. Gentoo seems a little bit more snappy, but it also uses more hard drive space ...

I have to say that I really like XFCE4. It is the best scaled back GUI desktop system I have tried. (I still like GNOME and KDE better, but the gtk2 support in XFCE is pretty good).

This system is very usable with this configuration ... so much so that I am going to get a wireless NIC for it.

I would now say that a 2.6 Kernel and XFCE4 is a viable alternative to an older distro ... at least for P-II or better processors with at least 128mb of RAM.
Have you had a look at 'Feather' ( based on Knoppix which is based on Debian) or 'RULE' (Run Uptodate Linux Everywhere).

The RULE project looks like it has a lot of potential in this area ... I am going to give it a good look and see if it can be used in conjunction with WBEL / CentOS / TaoLinux to provide Enterprise Linux (ie stable with security updates) on older machines.
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