350 MHz XFCE Desktop Search Continues

I realized last night that I wasn’t going to get a day where I could just hammer out all of the distros I wanted to check out with my old PII 350 MHz. So, I figured I’d give STX Linux 1.0 a try. This distro comes heavily recommended for old PCs as we can see from the Stx website: “STX Linux is a desktop Linux distribution especially targeted to older hardware.” Minimum hardware requirements are well below those that my current setup contains. I come in at an average STX system. So I downloaded the distro, burned to CD and we’re off to the races!

Pics of the 350MHz:

STX 1.0

I started off pretty stoked because It is my understanding that STX is built on the solid base of Slackware Linux which happens to be my favorite distro. Boot up went relatively fast on the old PC. I was very impressed with the boot time. Everything was going fine with the install up until the software began to install. The install froze. I figured this wasn’t a good thing (duh!) so I rebooted and repartitioned the hard disk. I then made sure to format with cfdisk (along with some bad block checking). Another bootup and I’m back to installing again.

No dice on this. STX freezes again right as it is getting ready to install software. I decided to let this one sit for a few minutes so I went in and watched an episode of Monk. Coming back in, I can see that we have a kernel panic. I’ve seen this a couple of times with the 2.6.13 kernel and this computer. Perhaps it’s just old and unique? Not sure. For whatever reasons, this PC won’t take an install of STX. I figured that since this only took about 40 minutes, I could try another distro.

Wolvix 1.0.4

I’ve heard good things about Wolvix as well. I’ve heard that XFCE is the default desktop (something I think that many lightweight distros should embrace more often). The Wolvix homepage has an overview of the distro here. I’m looking forward to this distro as well.

Bootup seemed to be going fine until we get to looking for data modules after setting up the Union filesystem. I froze again. This is getting old. Perhaps it REALLY is getting old…the PC that is. Will Linux still be able to install on just any old PC out there? Is this the end for my PII 350? I had such a hard time giving up my PI 75MHz in 2002…that thing wouldn’t quit. It had been a great Linux firewall for four years. Now my PII 350? I sure hope not.

To make sure that I’m not having problems with a bad burn I decided to check both the Wolvix disk and the STX. I brought down my firewall so that I could try an install with it. I run a Celeron 900 in an old Gateway mATX for my firewall/webserver/gateway. No problems installing/booting there with either distro. Perhaps it is the CDROM? I put Slackware 10.2 into the PII 350 and boot up then proceed to install. No problems installing at all. I can install the full distro with all the fixins on the current setup with the CDROM. I’m thinking that this is something with the motherboard and the 2.6.13 kernel. Not sure exactly what it is but it is preventing me from installing these handful of distros.

I’ll have to give up tonight. I’ll try a few more of the distros I listed previously. Sure hope that I can find at least one of these that can give me a nice working XFCE desktop. Thanks for reading.

This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Author: devnet

devnet has been a project manager for a Fortune 500 company, a Unix and Linux administrator, a Technical Writer, a System Analyst, and a Systems Engineer during his 20+ years working with Technology.

9 thoughts on “350 MHz XFCE Desktop Search Continues”

  1. Hi Devnet.

    Too bad you wheren’t able to get Wolvix going on your system. I was hoping it would run on systems like that. I love old computers and think they could stil be usefull in many ways.
    I’ll see what I can to about optimizing the distro for old PCs. Maybe a small mini edition or something.

    Thanks for giving Wolvix a test run. Drop by the website some time and say hi. =)


  2. ZenWalk and KateOS both run well on my 400MHz processor. Both have annoying “issues” tho.

    KateOS decided to break from Slackware compatability which resulted in a much smaller package repository. I really liked KateOS 2.3 but won’t use it for that reason.

    ZenWalk 2.01 was awesome but they recently made a lot of changes to the system. So when I try to update using netpkg I get a broken system. Something wrong with udev I think. Version 2.2 is out now and this problem is supposedly solved. I haven’t tried it but will soon.

    MEPISlite is still my favorite. It is one of only a few distros that will play DivX movies on my 400MHz machine (using Kplayer).

  3. nice to read this stuff. I have a 550 k6-2 and love xfce also. Tried zenwalk and I am interested in puppy linux.. how about delilinux?? I ve didnt try it yet cozz it still in beta and a bit tricky to install. I ve read some very good reviews about that. but it doesnt comes with xfce as default ;(
    currently I am stuck with slack 10.2 (trying to vectorize it) and running con kolivas patched 2.6 kernel. Stable and little more responsive than default krnl.
    videos play smooth and it’s a 8mb card. divx will not though
    Old computers are still usefull in many offimatic aspects
    cheers ppl

  4. HAve you thought about using ubuntu Linux? Rather than use the defualt Gnome install, select server install. That will install a minimal system then installing XFCE & any applications you choose using apt-get / synaptic.

    Instructions here 🙂 https://wiki.ubuntu.com/InstallingXubuntu

  5. I’m having simliar woes. Got an old compaq. Some distro’s will install some wont, so its not the drive. Some are too big (I have a 3GB hdd) Zen Walk looks good but I keep getting a kernel panic immediately into the install. (No luck yet on finding solution) Vector looks neat, but came up against space problems. I l ike the idea of building from source for the optimizations. I’d reaally like a great core system, with x, and either window maker, xfce, or fvwm2. I’m runnig on dial-up here, so I’m burning my disks at school. Anyone know of a distro that will build from cd onto a blank drive, from source, at least everything up to X? And that does not have some funky packagae management system, or anything other additions that get it away from pretty much plaiin vanilla default builds.

    happy tinkering

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