At Phoronix we are constantly running Linux benchmarks with quad-core and even octal-core systems with more than enough RAM and all of the latest and greatest hardware from the chipsets to the graphics cards. However, with an increasing number of new Linux users trying out Linux for the first time on their old computers, we have been asked to conduct some benchmarks using popular desktop Linux distributions on older hardware. We have done just that as we try out Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, and SimplyMEPIS with an old Intel Northwood system.
I liked how you quoted "older hardware", lol. I never imagined a Pentium 4 would be considered old, but 4-5 years have passed.
A few things I didn't like about this review is that I didn't see any desktop comparisons. Most people don't care about actual benchmarks, but how the desktop handled. Maybe you could have had made some scripts that launched programs such as web browsers and update managers, and just gaged how the desktop felt. You could have also added in some comparisons to memory usage, and other statistics like boot time. You should think about diversifying your benchmarks in the future.
Thanks for the review, I hope to see more of these in the future, on even "older hardware".
lol indeed! I agree totally with sc3252's comments. I currently run Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn on a P3 700MHz notebook (Sony Vaio PCG-F680) with only 256MB of RAM. That's maxed out. Others might blanch, but I ran earlier versions of Ubuntu with 128MB Ram with great success. I've also run versions of SuSE with equal success.
The only limitation I've found is regards Open GL since I only have a Rage Mobility P/M AGP 2x graphics card in the beast. Can't run Compiz/Beryl or anything else that uses Open GL. Feisty defaults back for me.
Performance is faster than XP for the most part, and boot time is quite acceptable to me, though I can't quote numbers. I'm configured with a verbose Grub boot, yet it still boots at half XP's time. If anyone is interested I'll time the boot and several other things and post the numbers.
Why do I run on this old beast? Besides being free, this Vaio has sentimental value for me; I lugged it all over China when I was a tech rep there.
Good article, the lowest end cpu i've used for modern Linux ever was a 233 mhz Pentium with 64 mb of EDO ram. It worked alright, but that was just on the command line I didn't try X with it. I probably would have had to use Fluxbox at most. And a pretty lightweight browser, I think the startup time on a system like that with Firefox might be a bit too long.
This was about 3 years ago though. I just ended up throwing out the machine because well, its life ended hehe.
I would also like to see items such as mysql benchmarks,mencoder encoding, etc included. I would also like to see opensuse get thrown into the list of distro's for comparison in future articles. Having 3 distro's all based on the same basic core (Ubuntu, Xubuntu, SimplyMEPIS) IMHO useless and a waste of time. Also hdparm is a useless benchmark as well. The article doesn't mention if all the filesystems being used were the same either. Vector Linux would also have been a ideal candidate for comparison.
Hi! I liked very much your article about running Linux on older machines.
We should stop the "arms race" for ever resource-hungrier software and hardware and Linux is an excelent tool to get out of the neverending nonsensical upgrade cycle, opting for a wiser,more efficient and environment-friendlier approach to computing instead.
A week ago, at work, I just changed an aging clonic computer of a worker. It is an AMD (sempron) **duron** 750 with 128MB PC133 SDRAM and a Seagate 40GB IDE disk. It had windows 2000pro+Antivirus+Several applications installed and it crawled, so I installed a newer computer with a clean image for the worker and took the old one to the IT department.
By the time I was trying Drupal on windows 2000 with xampp in another machine, that shared this task with regular user tasks in order to test a small intranet for the office colleagues, both the user tasks and the website performance was not satisfactory at all on a DELL P-IV 1800 with windows 2000pro and 256MB DDR.(theoretically twice as powerful as the "old" computer I had just sustituted)
So I formatted the aging AMD (sempron) **duron**, added another 128 MB from RAM of another unused computer and installed Debian 4.0 on it. Now the intranet flies, I can run the whole system plus the KDE desktop at less than 190MB ram usage. Although the graphic desktop is fully usable, I dont need it. Without starting the X server -which saves some 100MB of RAM-, I can fully administer the machine with encrypted secure access from any web browser with webmin or open a ssh session with putty and I can transfer any files from a windows machine with WinSCP, and of course, make backup copies of the Drupal database with phpmyadmin.
I believe I could get even a smaller memory footprint using Slackware, but I feel more comfortable with the apt package system (I know, I should try slapt-get).
P-IV 1800, 256MB DDR RAM, Windows2000pro: Expensive software licences, antivirus compulsory, 10 user connections limit, no remote secure access, not administrable remotely, big memory footprint, energy hungrier, hotter and noisier, abysmal performance.
AMD (sempron) **duron** 750, 256MB SDRAM, Debian 4.0: Cheaper hardware, (heaps of) free software available, light and capable, less energy consumption and noise, unlimited user and connectivity options, no need for antivirus, secure (following some easy "hardening debian" howto), high performance.
Everything without spending a dime of the IT budget on new hardware or sw.licences, adding value for my employer and re-using a perfectly valid piece of hardware that the forced-obsolescemce market policy of some Software/Hardware oligopolies would have contributed to contaminate some 3rd world landfill of toxic/electronic waste instead.
**edited to correct "sempron" by "duron"-explanation 2 messages below-**
I don't know where you got a Sempron 750, but that processor never existed.
As a note, I run win2k on a 256mB P3 1ghz, and it's fast and nimble. win2k cost nothing if you already have a licence, and I commend Microsoft for still providing security updates for that old of an o/s.
Sorry glussier, I meant an AMD Duron 750. , -Sempron is the processor of my home machine -a 2600mhz one-, thats the reason of my mistake- ...and I agree with you that Windows2000 "should" run very satisfactorily in such a machine as a PentiumIV: I have run it satisfactorily in an old AMD K62 500 with 256 megs of ram.
In fact I believe Windows2000 is the best client OS Microsoft has ever released. Now, nevertheless, I was not only running Windows2000, but also Office2000, a couple applications and on top of that Apache and MySQL, and, mind you, Windows update is no replacement for a good and up to date anti-virus, and if you think so.. well... good luck, most probably you will be infected in a matter of hours no matter how up to date your Microsoft OS is. Antivirus are quite memory/processor-intensive and harm the performance, but you need it, and the fault is Windows poor security and design (in part due to the market strategy of backwards compatibility needed by microsoft in order to keep the lock-in over the existing customer base with each new iteration of windows).
This aside, about the cost of the licence,I was doing the initial testing in a machine with an "original copy" (mind the oxymoron) of Windows2000 sharing its role as a user machine.
Sooner or later, due to its poor performance I would have been forced to change it to a dedicated computer.
Now, supose I had chosen Windows 2000 as the base for the intranet machine: Windows2000 pro is not a complete OS, it is a crippled version so you have to buy Windows2000 "server" and pay for the ludicrous CAL (Client Access Licence) licenses, to have "right" to the "full" functionality (well, actually, you cannot get the full potential of Windows unless you pay a -BIG- premium for the Enterprise Server), so, with just a Win2000pro you cannot service more than 10 users. It is crippled so the OS won't allow more than 10 concurrent clients connecting to your box. XPpro has made things worse allowing only 5 clients. The problem is that Microsoft works hard to force you to pay for each new service you try to add to your computing environment.
Instead of that, most distros of Linux offer you the full capabilities of any modern OS and on top of that for free!!!(you are only asked a fee for distros that add proprietary enterprise software or support services contracts attached): With Linux: No legal worries, no need to justify software purchases, no need to keep track of every licence, per-seat user CALs, or software inventory, no need to keep the "original copies" or their glossy authenticity certificates in a safe (as free software, it cannot be "stolen")-heck żis there a study about how much time and money all this nonsensical "proprietary software bureaucracy" costs to businesses?- :With Gnu/Linux you can even distribute copies of the software and help you workmates equip their home machines...and they are free to do the same with anyone else they want...