VOGONS


First post, by retardware

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

As we all know, MS-DOS and Windows are unsuitable for any serious system maintenance.

So I am wondering which Linuxes you guys use for system maintenance, including
-testing hardware functionality
-creating filesystems (in particular FAT32 ones)
-backing up HDD images to NFS server or (external) SCSI tape drive

As the systems in question are quite weak for nowadays' typical Linux distros, there are some requirements:
-No GUI, just text mode (ideally a few virtual consoles)
-can work with as little as 486 and 8MB RAM
-offers entry of kernel etc boot options for "complicated" hardware configs

Ideally it would work as live CD, but I do not know whether this is possible with only 8MB. So it would be OK if it has to be installed on a HDD.

Which Linuxes do you use/recommend?

Last edited by retardware on 2019-03-19, 02:33. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 5, by BinaryDemon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I use Tinycore for projects and was about to make that recommendation but after checking even the terminal only version (called 'Core') requires a 486DX and 24mb+ ram. I think most modern kernels will require more than 8mb ram.

So this isnt a recommendation based on experience just having looked around at a few distro's.

Take a look at Tiny Slitaz ( http://tiny.slitaz.org/), it seems to only require a 386sx with 4mb ram (based on 2.6.14 kernel). You sorta build the distro to suite your minimal needs.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 2 of 5, by retardware

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Thank you very much!
Tinycore is really interesting... it shows me that I have not realized how much memory Linux nowadays wants as a minimum.

Then I guess, if one wants to run modern unixoids, there is no way around expanding the 486's RAM to 128MB, as this would be only slightly more expensive than expanding to 32MB.

Btw, I found an interesting post from Theo de Raadt from 2017 (link here):

Re: Minium System Requirements […]
Show full quote

Re: Minium System Requirements

> That said, while "minimum requirement" is neither useful nor
> understandable, it might be interesting to document nominal
> requirements - for example, size of base system on disk and memory
> occupied on bootup.

The landisk builds are done on a SH4 cpu running at 267 MHz, with 64MB
of ram. Network is a 100mbit, the disk drive is a Hitachi CF 8GB disk
drive -- yes it fits into a CF socket internally, and it has real
spinning parts.

To me this sounds very convincing, as I know OpenBSD from my own experience as very good.
The only disadvantage is that it has no alt-Fn vts, but it would probably run xorg fine with TWM or FVWM and some xterms.

But maybe it is just easier to not treat the 486 as a real computer (to avoid to have to upgrade it) and to use an external HDD instead of an internal one.
So I could attach the drive into another PC and just clone the DOS/Win98 installation to avoid installing on each PC individually. Backup via net can be done even using DOS. Would save a lot of configuration chores. Probably this is the most sensible way...

Reply 4 of 5, by yawetaG

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
retardware wrote:
Btw, I found an interesting post from Theo de Raadt from 2017 (link here): […]
Show full quote

Btw, I found an interesting post from Theo de Raadt from 2017 (link here):

Re: Minium System Requirements […]
Show full quote

Re: Minium System Requirements

> That said, while "minimum requirement" is neither useful nor
> understandable, it might be interesting to document nominal
> requirements - for example, size of base system on disk and memory
> occupied on bootup.

The landisk builds are done on a SH4 cpu running at 267 MHz, with 64MB
of ram. Network is a 100mbit, the disk drive is a Hitachi CF 8GB disk
drive -- yes it fits into a CF socket internally, and it has real
spinning parts.

To me this sounds very convincing, as I know OpenBSD from my own experience as very good.
The only disadvantage is that it has no alt-Fn vts, but it would probably run xorg fine with TWM or FVWM and some xterms.

You could try an older version of FreeBSD, since it's supposed to be a bit more user friendly than the other BSDs (also has a very good community). It might even be that the current version still has 486 support; they are rather more conservative about dropping older hardware compared to Linuxes. IIRC, you can choose what to install in detail without too much trouble. It might also be worthwhile to compile a custom kernel without the fluff for the 486 (not on the 486).

Just don't try to install a graphical environment 😵

Reply 5 of 5, by mr_bigmouth_502

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
retardware wrote:

As we all know, MS-DOS and Windows are unsuitable for any serious system maintenance.

Windows I agree with, but DOS? DOS still has some use for low level system utilities like flashing BIOSes and running hard drive diagnostics, especially on low-end hardware.

My NEW(ish) desktop:
p8cqsw-2.png