[svlug] VOID Linux install, no DVD...

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Mar 21 03:36:46 PST 2016

Quoting Michael C. Robinson (plug_1 at robinson-west.com):

> I want to install VOID Linux on an old Pentium III.  It has USB1.1, but
> it can't boot from USB devices. 

This is normal for a machine of that vintage.

> I have a USB external DVD burner, and there is an SSD with 80 gigs of
> free space that is not partitioned.  The machine has a CD rewriter, an
> external Jazz 1GB drive, an internal atapi zip100 drive, and the SATA
> III SSD on a SATA I pci card.  

You really did not bother to read the installation requirements, did you?

  The i686 images have these requirements:

  Pentium 4 CPU (SSE2), 96MB RAM, 350MB disk, Ethernet / WiFi for network

Obviously, your PIII cannot support i686 CPU instruction extensions,
hence you cannot run the VOID Linux IA32 version's installer.

The other problem, installation media, would be easily solvable if (1) 
the machine's 'CD rewriter' can be a bootable device, or (2) you
temporarily mount an ATAPI CD or DVD drive on one of the PATA chains,
then boot from it.  However, as your target host doesn't meet minimum
CPU requirements, you will not be able to run VOID Linux IA32 version's
installer binaries.

Honestly, you thought no further than '[the PIII] can't boot from USB
devices'?  Surely the remedy of putting an ATAPI optical drive on it is
obvious, and, gosh, they're dirt cheap, and you obviously ought to have
a spare or two sitting around the way practically all longtime Linux
users do, anyway.

(Your Subject header says 'no DVD', but I cannot help noticing that the
relevant VOID Linux ISOs are small enough to burn to CDR.)

> Couple of things, I would like to have a local cached copy of the VOID
> repositories so that I can run VOID on more than one system without
> having them all go out to the Internet.

I have no experience with the nix / nix-env package manager, but
elementary Web-searching finds what appears to be a standard answer to
your question.


> I need VOID to do a graphical boot, I'm asking a Windows user to use
> it.  I could use a good runinit tutorial badly.  

Well, you'll find it more easily if you search for the correct name,
which is runit.

Steve Litt wrote a nice article that is partly about runit, namely his
Manjaro Experiments piece:
You probably won't like it, let alone your Windows users, because it's
very deliberately and cheerfully DIY with all the rivets exposed.

> I need to set up network UPS tools in client mode.  What do I need to
> install to run lxde manually, lxde is apparently installed already.
> I'm playing with VOID in virtualbox right now.  So far, it seems like
> a Linux distribution best aimed at advanced users.

No sh*t, Sherlock.

> I'm hoping that VOID is a better choice on old computers than
> say Fedora or Slackware.

What combination of bad drugs made you think Fedora is a reasonable
choice for old computers?

You know, you should as usual back up and try again, as you are once
again zebra hunting.  http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/lexicon.html#zebra-hunting

  Zebra Hunting 

  Diagnostic failure mode, in which investigation goes wrong through
  failure to consider _obvious, simple explanations first_ (as suggested
  by Occam's Razor).  As celebrated medical researcher Theodore E.
  Woodward, Chair of Medicine at University of Maryland's School of
  Medicine, used to advise interns:  "When you hear hoofbeats, think of
  horses, not zebras."  When helping computerists diagnose problems, I must
  sometimes intervene to halt energetic, futile hunts for imaginary

That is (_this_ time), you're starting out with really incredibly bad,
wild guesses about what distributions are suitable for a PIII-based
computer, and the wasted time and effort is multiplying from there.
Here, suggestion:

Start at http://distrowatch.com/ .
Go to 'search'.
In Search by Distribution Criteria, change radio button 'Distribution
Category' from 'All' to 'Old Computers'.
Select Search.

You will now see a selection of 20 fairly reasonable distro choices for
old computers.

I do not consider that listing exhaustive, e.g., I would certainly
include Debian and Slackware's IA32 installers.  I suspect those are
omitted because the default installs will occupy more disc space than is
typically available on really old computers -- _but_ in my experience 
a satisfactory Linux experience on any low-spec hardware starts with 
_not_ doing a default install, but rather a custom one where you pick a
very limited subset of available software.

I'd go with Debian on a PIII, myself -- like a shot.  Note minimum
recommended RAM: 128MB.

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