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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    Our church has been given about twenty computers. From this batch, we can probably cobble together about a dozen actual working machines to give away to folks needing computers. We've been kicking around the idea that, to avoid licensing problems, piracy accusations, etc., we could outfit these machines with free software, for instance, some version Linux, a free open-source "office suite," web browser, and anti-virus software. None of us have any Linux experience, but there's no time like the present.

    The question before us is -- what is the minimum hardware configuration under which Linux and some of these other programs would run "reasonably well"? I think we're looking at Pentium IIs, primarily. Would these have enough horsepower? What would be needed for RAM, HDD space, etc.? We're envisioning these being used by folks primarily for word processing and web browsing.

    Also, are there any good "getting started" books on Linux, etc., that might help get us oriented to tackle this project?

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    Welcome to the world of the Penguin!

    The limited specs you've provided tell me you'll want something that goes easy on the resources. My personal favourite for this is Damn Small Linux (DSL). It can run off a CD, has a HD-installer available, and a number of software packages available via icons and right-click accessible menu (similar to the Windows Start Menu).

    Newer to the list of minimal, or not full blown distributions, is Xubuntu. It has both an install, and LiveCD download available, but does require more RAM and processor power than the DSL distribution.

    I'd like to suggestion going to Distrowatch. On that site you'll find search tools, and information to help you make an informed choice.

    Hope this all helps!
    Christopher Baldrey

  3. #3
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    In addition to Chris's comments, antivirus software on Linux may be unnecessary due to the way the operating system is architected. Read this article by Scot Finnie or this forum post by Nathan Williams for a more thorough explanation.

    Outside of that, the biggest challenge you'll face is the "unfamiliar" Linux interface, which is easily overcome through use and practice.
    -Mark

  4. #4
    Star Lounger
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    Re: Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    Chris and Mark:

    I thank you both for your replies. Chris' suggestion may let us use some of these machines in a limited-Linux setting.

    Now please let me alter my initial question:

    What would be the hardware requirements to run a "full-blown" Linux desktop environment? (Not "high-powered," mind you; just above "barely adequate" would be fine.) I've got a few older, retired machines (or components thereof) taking up space around the house, and would like to learn Linux. Could I get by with a Pentium II? III? Would a 40 Gb HDD be sufficient? How much memory would be "enough"? Obviously the machine would need a CD drive. Would a floppy drive be necessary or useful? Does Linux care what video card I use (it may be PCI-based) as long as it can output at least 1024x768?

    I feel like I'll need to have some hands-on experience with a "full" version of Linux to better understand the working limitations of the versions Chris is proposing. And I've been wanting to set up a Linux machine for years. Why not this summer? Maybe next year, a Linux server...

    Regards,

    Jim

  5. #5
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    Hey guys, lemme in on this one.

    One question: is there alot of linux experience in the people who would be supporting this?

    If yes - Gentoo. ts a GREAT sourced based distro and can be completely customized for exactly what you want. It, IMHO, is the the best distro out there, but is not very easy to install. Once its installed, it IS very easy to maintain.

    If no - I'd go with a more commerically known distro. Redhat up to 9 or Suse. (I had a bad experiene with fedora) The reason, there's alot of support for distro specific stuff.

    The lounge runs on:

    Athelon xp 2200 - (2.2 ghz), 1 gig ram, 80 gig drive, Redhat 8. (I would LOVE to move us to Gentoo but we don't need anymore downtime) There' s no x-wndows, its strictly a server. (Apache, mysql and courier) Consdering the pounding, it runs pretty well.

    Lemme know if this helps. And if you had specific hardware specs, we could tell if there may be any problems.
    Mike Wolfman
    Jack of all, Master of none
    Bow before me, for I am root.
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  6. #6
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    I didn't see your second responce... A desktop linux box, hmmm

    Redhat 8 or 9 will run fine on a PIII, 256 mb (512 would be ideal), and 40 gigs is more then enough. Redhat has a great installer and the support for it on the free boards across the net is better then most. (Plus I know Redhat better then the others) Linux is linux but there are differences that make them pretty unique.

    http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/hand...-x86.xml?full=1 is the complete, step by step, howto install gentoo. There's no real installer. You actually start with a LiveCD. (Its pretty sweet)

    I think one of the hardest things to do, unless the OS detects it, is setting up the display. If you have to do it by hand, its a pain in the ass., Plan on learning Vi or pico (editors), there's alot of stuff that can be tweaked, installed or fixed easily on the command line.

    More about hardware. My primary DNS server runs redhat 7.0. Its a PII, 10 gig drive and 128 megs of ram. BUT, that all it does, DNS. No X-windows.

    Just grab one, d/l a distro and try it. Redhat doesn't take that long to install. Gentoo could take up to 3 days. (Its sourced based, it has to compile EVERYTHING)

    Lemme know.
    Mike Wolfman
    Jack of all, Master of none
    Bow before me, for I am root.
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  7. #7
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Minimum hardware to run LInux, etc.

    I've got a Pentium 200 MHz MMX computer at home, with 64 MB of RAM (it's an old one, but served its time well). I have run the DSL 1.5 distro on it, installed to it's 10 GB, and 3 GB hard drives. It was enough to get me started with learning Linux - and to do websurfing (slowly).

    To run a PC as a desktop, with an office package, web browser, mail, etc...., I think you'd be fine with anything from a late model Pentium II (400 MHz+), 64 MB Ram. The more storage you have, the better. Video will work from the namebrand vendors out of the box, but maybe not with device specific drivers - ATI for example in my experience doesn't allows play well with the distro using ATI drivers, but the VESA drivers are suitable enough for me.
    Christopher Baldrey

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