RULE: Run Up2date Linux Everywhere!
Demonstration Slideshows of RULEm in OOo format:
Finally an organization has been created to
address a problem which I have been complaining
about in the Linux community and COLA for years.
Namely, the problem that newer Linux distributions
do not run well on older hardware, using even
expert level installation and selective package
When I've come on this forum to describe problems
with older hardware, I get the usual responses:
"just upgrade [using money you don't have]!"
"buy some more [outdated SIMM] RAM!"
"buy a new hard drive [that your BIOS won't
recognize or allow to boot]!"
"why are you still trying to use a Pentium-100?"
In other words, the claim that Linux will run on
/anything/ needs *qualifications*, namely: "You
won't be able to get help to run an older computer
as a *desktop* machine. Run it as a server or
something, while waiting the rest of your life to
/afford/ a desktop machine to use with that server."
But now, my waiting for a real answer is over.
The folks at RULE, or /R/un /U/p2date /L/inux
/E/verywhere, have come up with some excellent
installers and utility disks for installing
as high as RedHat 8.0 on machines with less than
32MB of RAM, still running the graphical installer
(their installer: Miniconda), and still having
X on older machines.
Yes, thats right, Pentium-100Mhz machines with
fairly fast X desktops. No recompiling over
several weeks just to get the right packages
installed (as with Gentoo). No confusing expert
installs just to only get the right packages
installed (as with most any distro). RULE means
users can take older hardware and install desktop
machines with a minimum of fuss and bother to
fit applications and X onto them.
Less than 32MB of RAM? Anaconda, RedHat's installer,
*refuses to run*. Miniconda runs in less than 16MB
of RAM. If you can put up with a monochrome text
installer, Slinky runs in less than 6MB of RAM.
Small hard drive? No problem. RULE installs
*useful* desktop installs in as small as an
810MB hard drive, including apps and X.
Don't know what hardware you have in a machine?
This is a common problem with donated older
hardware. Run the bootable floppy SlinkyDetect,
and your machine's hardware is detected and
recorded in a report.txt file on the floppy.
Installs can be performed using either two floppies
or a bootable ISO. You also need a set of RedHat
Linux CDs, RH71, RH72, or RH80. Boxed or downloaded.
Purpose and Target Audience:
Purposes of the project
* Modify the current Red Hat Linux installer
so that it runs in less than 32 MB of RAM,
or create a new one if needed (done)
* Select, test, and (if needed) package the
system and desktop applications which give
the greatest real functionality with the
smallest consumption of CPU and RAM
* Create another installation option of the
Red Hat Linux distribution (not another
distribution, see the FAQ), containing all
and only the packages above, optimized to
run either a server, or a basic desktop on
obsolete hardware with very little RAM and
* Promote and support (especially in
developing countries) the use of this
install option with schools, public and
Please note that only the first point is really
"restricted" to Red Hat. "Portings" to other
distributions should not be too hard.
This install option is meant to benefit primarily
two classes of users:
* GNU/Linux newbies who cannot afford modern
computers, but still need, to get started
more easily, an up to date, well documented
* System administrators and power users who
have no interest in eye candy, and want to
run updated software on whatever hardware
is available, to minimize costs, or just
because it feels like the right thing to do.
Example systems which run RedHat using RULE
Pentium-75/16MB/810MB laptop. E-mail, WWW
browsing, word processing. Running IceWM.
Pentium 133 laptop with 16 MB of RAM, 1.3 GB
hard disk. Image viewers, music players
and games. Also IceWM.
Toshiba Satellite Pro 420CDS (P100, 40M ram),
running Red Hat 8.0. Screenshots on the website
show the Gimp and several others applications
running under fluxbox, a Blackbox spin-off.
The main interest of this series is the fact
that there is no XFree underneath! The laptop
is running kdrive (a.k.a. TinyX). Running top
on the laptop gives:
792 mfratoni 15 0 22756 22M 12384 S 15.3 59.8 1:19 mozilla-bin
720 root 15 0 7192 3600 1148 S 10.0 9.5 0:27 X
And as an answer to those who still want to
complain "just upgrade already!", portions of
the RULE FAQ:
1: Hardware is so cheap today, why bother?
Primarily for two reasons:
1. This is a very limited and egoistic attitude.
Eighty per cent of the world population still
has to work many months or years to afford a
computer that can run decently the majority
of modern, apparently "Free" software.
2. Many people who could afford a new computer
every two years rightly prefer to buy something
else, like vacations, for example.... Hardware
should be changed only when it breaks, or when
the user's needs increase a lot (for example
when one starts to do video editing). Not
because "Free" Software requires more and more
expensive hardware every year.
2: Are you out of your mind? Those people need
food, medicines and shelter, not computers
Of course. By all means, let's keep things in the
right perspective, and do whatever we can to
guarantee survival first.
Don't forget, however, that:
* software which doesn't force you to hardware
upgrades leaves more money for donations.
* in the long run, these people need to become
self sufficient, i.e. able to make a decent
living by themselves. For better or for worse,
in modern world this almost always requires
computing. If you teach a man to fish he'll
never be hungry again.. unless the only
useable fishing rods are too expensive.
3: By the time you've finished, Moore's law will
have made obsolete and available for a few
bucks 1 GHz systems, so just wait...
First of all, if we don't start to do something
now, by that time Linux distributions will require
1 GB of RAM to install, and 2 to startx. In the
second place, who ever said that "limited RAM"
always means "junk PC"? Why not place a full
desktop inside a 2003 cell phone?
8: Why don't you just install an older, smaller
version of the same distribution?
Because (in no particular order):
* We wanted a general purpose distribution, not
something that does (very well) only one thing
* Target users include grade school students, and
in general people without enough competence or
RAM to compile anything
* For the same reasons, and to allow expansion
we wanted a distribution with plenty of
documentation and ready binary packages
* It has to be a *real* distribution, i.e. a
complete set of (hopefully) self installing
software ready for desktop use since the
first login, not a collection of tips, a
newbie portal, or something that requires
two more weeks of customization
* Why should we? We do want xinetd, iptables
firewalling, journaling file systems, secure
SMTP and print server and so on, all compiled
with modern libraries. In the user space, for
example, we also want to print color with the
latest Postscript drivers.