Message: previous - next
Month: November 2011

Re: [trinity-devel]

From: Patrick Serru <patrick@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2011 11:05:42 -0500
Le mercredi 09 novembre 2011, Darrell Anderson a écrit :
> Hi Brian,
> Interesting personal history you shared!
> As much as I enjoy tinkering with computers, I get very mad when anything 
gets in my way of being productive. Therefore I am very much in the group 
of people who see computers being a tool --- the means to an end.
> I don't know that I can help. For several years I have sheltered myself in 
Slackware, which is not known as a "mom and pop" friendly system. Although 
some time ago I started a series of essays about finding an operating 
system for older computers, I have not continued that journey. I would like 
to renew that journey this winter.
> A big challenge with what you ask is defining your audience. A basic bell 
curve more than likely would show most users wanting only the basics. There 
always will be computer-challenged people who, no matter what anyone does 
to help, will never understand anything they do or think they want to do. 
Then there are the power users, both smart and non-smart. The non-smart 
ones can take anything apart but can't fix their mess. They always call 
somebody to help.
> Mostly though you are focusing on the people in the middle of the bell 
curve. My struggle is not so much selecting a distro. Even Slackware, if 
preinstalled and configured by a subject matter expert, can serve the 
purposes of these people because all of them want basic point-and-click 
access to applications. The majority of computer users do not care about 
how everything runs underneath.
> The challenge is older hardware can't deal with the modern internet. Back 
in the mid 1990s a 486 machine running Netscape 3 or 4 had no problem 
surfing the primarily text based web. Today too many web sites use 
JavaScript and Flash. Even if those two features are disabled, most older 
hardware still can't surf the web. The limited RAM and video cards on these 
old machines can't render a typical web page fast enough to be suitable. 
Running flash on these old machines is hopeless.
> If a user does not need the internet, then the older hardware runs quite 
well with the traditional apps of yesteryear: word processing, 
spreadsheets, etc. Anything that requires serious video rendering will 
bring these old machines to their proverbial knees.
> I have Slackware 12.2 and KDE 3.5.10 installed on two such machines: a 
Pentium I and Pentium II class machine. Startup speeds of any app is slow 
but tolerable. Using an app is acceptable after the app is started. I can 
improve desktop speed a bit by using a window manager such as IceWM, but I 
still need to start and use apps, which tends to be slow. The moment I try 
to surf the web, even with images disabled in the web browser, the systems 
show their age immediately.
> In short, the problem is not the operating system but the hardware.
> I don't know an easy answer. What is the minimum specs that allow surfing 
the modern internet in an acceptable manner? Are such users willing to 
accept that they can't watch online videos? Are they willing to accept that 
a dial-up connection means they can't download videos or receive such 
videos as email attachments?
> Perhaps the answer is to use nothing less than a Pentium III class 
computer. If I find the time this winter to return to my "old hardware" 
project, I should find one or two of those types of computers to 
experiment. The PI and PII machines can't deal with the modern internet. 
That said, anybody still using dial-up probably never would notice because 
the connection speed is more of a bottleneck than the computer. I wonder 
whether I can rig up a way to simulate that kind of connection speed and 
then test my old hardware.
> If we get past the hardware questions, which distro to choose? Any Ubuntu 
based system, regardless of hardware or desktop environment, will kill any 
old hardware. That includes Mint. Forget about cloud-based distros such as 
Peppermint because the hardware and connection speeds used by such people 
can't deal with the overhead.
> Otherwise I probably would stick with a Debian based system because of the 
size of the repositories for additional software.
> Puppy is an interesting possibility and one I wish I had more time to 
> Which desktop environment? None of the new desktops will work on older 
hardware, such as KDE 4 or GNOME 3. Those new desktops require 3D 
acceleration hardware. That leaves Trinity, Xfce, or LXDE. To me, LXDE 
remains too experimental and likely would frustrate many mom and pop users. 
A window manager approach would work, but only if highly customized by a 
subject matter expert. Regardless of which desktop is chosen, everything 
would have to be preinstalled.
> Therein lies the real problem which no Linux based distro developer has 
solved: creating a system that mom and pop users with old hardware can use. 
The Puppy people might be close.
> As far as I can tell, the only solution is select a distro and then 
customize everything. Guess what? At that point you have created your own 
distro and must face all of the related support headaches of such a 
> Any such project requires serious usability testing. Somebody like you or 
me can tinker and find a solution. Most mom and pop users can't --- and 
> I wish I had a simple answer. :)
> Thanks for stopping by.
> Darrell

      Nothing directly retated to Trinity, but did you ever tryed the 
impressive DSL and DSLn (Damn Small Linux). I know that it exists other(s) 
of these types of distribution / systems but forgot the names...