Puppy 2.12

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First impressions of Puppy Linux Distribution.. Recently had the opportunity to install this minimalist distro on a IBM Thinkpad 260 (Pentium MMX w/32MB RAM). Certainly a very low power machine. The system had been running Win98, but had no working USB stack. The machine was only used to connect to 'telnet' to a set of CISCO routers via RS232 port. Yeah, I set telnet. Imagine that.. Luckily these routers never see the public internet. I have already warned the owner of the dangers of using telnet. He was using Hyperterminal to telnet to routers. Yuck.

I offered to extend the usefulness of the machine by installing Linux on the device. I had heard that Puppy and DSL (Damn Small Linux) were superb in this sort of scenario. To be clear, I'd never installed Puppy and was not very familiar with its nuances.

So, I spent a fair amount of time reading and perusing the news groups and project site. When I saw the Live-CD option, I immediately want to test it out. It immediately became clear that I could not run the distro out of ramdisk.. The wiki stated a minimal of 128MB RAM was required, gosh were they correct. The system ran very poorly. I couldn't bear to watch it. So I was then told that I could wipe out the FAT32 partition and run Puppy natively, I decided to install it to the hard disk.

Before I got to this stage, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out how I would get the kernel onto this machine. It didn't have any working network card (PCMCIA) was an Intel Pro/Bus 100 which had no drivers. I figured that I could find the windows drivers on Intel's site, but the problem would be transferring the 5MB install program to the machine. What about USB you ask?? Well, yes the machine did have one USB slot, but as I stated earlier, I was working with Win98 which 'never' had a working USB stack.

Fifteen years ago this would not have been an issue, as the Linux kernel would fit onto one floppy. In fact, my first Slackware install was done with series of floppy disks. I digress. Alas, there was a CD on this Thinkpad, but it took me much too long to find it.

The hard was a paultry 5GB, I immediately allocated ~350MB for swap, another 30MB was used for /boot (/dev/hda1) and the remainder for / (/dev/hda2). I ran the install and eureka, I noticed the difference immediately. I was actually able to get a desktop setup and run the setup (wizard)
and installed the 'eepro100' module for the network card. I then installed 'vmlinuz' (the kernel), hard disk.

A few unfinished items.. I never got a chance to setup the boot loader, but I did create a boot floppy. I did not setup a non-privileged user account. I also have to explain how SSH works, so that he can use SSH instead of telnet. AFAIK, telnet is deprecated and was removed from the kernel many years ago.

Nonetheless, he now has a working machine albeit too slow for my taste. He'll probably need to add more RAM. I couldn't imagine running X on a system with 32MB RAM. He seemed pleased to learn something new..

More updates later.

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    This page contains a single entry by AG published on November 25, 2006 10:38 PM.

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