[Smaug] Fedora 12 Beta now available

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Oct 29 10:30:08 PST 2009


Quoting Peter Belew (abcruzww at gmail.com):

> I have 3 i686-class machines - an Averatec laptop with a Sempron CPU,
> a Dell server/workstation system with a Pentium 4 CPU (2.26GHz), and a
> gBox 'lunchbox' computer with a 1.7 gHz Celeron. The gBox is a triple
> boot among XP, Ubuntu 9.04, and FreeBSD 7.1.

I note without objection that the previous thread concerned machines
_earlier_ than i686.  

There are three main consequences to that type of CPU:  (1) The machines
are getting fragile (esp. moving parts like fans and HDs), and parts are 
now in many cases specialty items, i.e., older and slower RAM tends to
be _more_ expensive per meg than newer and faster RAM.  (2) If your CPU
is earlier than _i586_-class, you end up having compatibility problems
with some distros (mostly, installation kernels) that are compiled with
Pentium optimisation.  (3) The machines tend to have and max out at
pretty small amounts of RAM, making life difficult using Linux other
than in limited roles.

Note that those concerns, other than #2 (the 586-compilation one), don't
actually centre around the CPU itself, but rather broader system
consequences.  

> Then there are 2 systems with 800 mHz VIA CPUs. They are quite
> adequate for web surfing not requiring much high-bandwidth multimedia
> usage. One of these just has Ubuntu 9.04 on it, the other has FreeBSD
> 7.2 and Ubuntu 9.10 on it (updated through today, so basically equal
> to today's release).

I notice you don't mention the amount of RAM, which in my experience is
a more-significant factor.  But, in any event, your _800 MHz_ VIA CPU 
is hardly a pre-686 processor.  Some of the much earlier VIA CPUs such as 
the "Samuel", from just after they acquired Cyrix, lacked i686's cmov
instructions and yet tended to get autorecognised by distro installers
as i686-class, thus causing errors when attempting to run i686-compiled
kernels.

> Then there are 3 old systems with 400 MHz AMD CPUs, mainly serving as
> backup file servers. Two run Ubutu 8.04.3 LTS, the third runs an
> earlier version with no X. One of the LTS systems dual-boots into
> FreeBSD 7.1, and serves as a backup for some very old files, mirrored
> on the 2 separate disks with the 2 OSes.

Again, you didn't mention the amount of RAM, which in my experience is
far more important.  However, saying "400 MHz" suggests a K6-class CPU,
which again isn't pre-i686.

It seems a shame, by the way, to not use those machines in a more full
role, RAM permitting.  With a less bloated graphical environment than 
(say) GNOME or KDE, and a competently sparse runtime configuration
(Icewm or Blackbox, virtual terminals pared down to what's actually
needed, etc.), that class of machine should make a good desktop system.




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