Top 5 Tiny Distros
Forum: water cooler
Topic: Top 5 Tiny Distros
started by: curaga
Posted by curaga on May 23 2008,19:10http://www.tuxmachines.org/node/26480
Warning: from the same guy of "Damn Small Improvement".
He still isn't very happy with DSL, and mistaked many of the apps..
Posted by roberts on May 24 2008,20:13Curious that you would even post this.
But really apples to oranges to bananas, comparing 2.6 gtk2 to a 2.4 gtk1 - really. Based on his view I should abandon my efforts on trying to keep a 2.4/gtk1 system alive. Everyone, including myself, should have enough money to dump all of our machines and go buy something that can run small distros that have larger demands.
Yet, the reality is that, there are many machines not able to run without frambuffer, 2.4, and gtk1.
The reality is that I still have users trying to get me to update 3.x, a 2.4.26 based system. Go figure.
I get complaints about offering scsi as loadable extensions instead of in core, yet do the other small distros offer all the modules that DSL has. Is that EVER mentioned in a review.
It seems that only DELIVERY/DOWNLOAD size matters and if it happens to work on the latest whiz bang reviewer's machine. Forget about system requirements or intended target machines.
Maybe, I should abandon DSL and become a reviewer. Now that would be something.
Posted by lucky13 on May 24 2008,20:45
Most reviewers (and their reviews) are full of crap. I think it would be interesting, though, if all these Linux sites would get developers of different projects to test and review other projects. You could do a review of Slackware, Patrick could review of Ubuntu, and Shuttleworth could test DSL and write a review of it. At least there would be measures of familiarity with what putting a distro together actually entails.
Instead, we get reviews from people who are more fascinated with eye candy and application versions than explaining what makes any particular distro unique, how secure and stable it is, etc.
Posted by jpeters on May 24 2008,23:22
Highlights for high scoring Puppy:
1. It looks so tranquill
2. There are snowy mountains
3. Has a placid lake
4. There's lots of blue
5. Icons match with the blue
6. USB mouse didn't work
7. Kindof bigger than the others (88MB)
Posted by lucky13 on May 24 2008,23:38He probably just forgot to add how much easier it is to run your computer as root only compared to messing with all this "permissions" stuff...
Edit: re DSL: "They started using DFM for the main file manager replacing iDesk icons which feels like a big step backwards and detracts from the overall appearance with the folders on the desktop instead of nice icons. All in all, I just don't love DSL much anymore."
Posted by curaga on May 25 2008,07:49My point in posting this being that some people never learn, and that he isn't even good at reviews, including the mistakes quoted by lucky13.
Posted by kuky on May 25 2008,11:27The Veredict
Distro Ease Looks Useful Stab/Funct Laptop total/5
CDlinux 5 4 3 5 3 4
SliTaz 4 4 4 5 0 3.4
Damn Small 2 3 2 2 0 1.8
Austrumi 4 4 4 3 2 3.4
Puppy 4 3 5 5 4 4.2
(newbe point of view)
I take a walk by puppy.org and download the ver 4 ,with my home pc celeron 300 and motherboard intel i810 and 128 mb ram..
I think that for the core distro (live cd and runs) its the same result
i can rescue files and browse in www i can add apps ....the diferent things are that with 30 mb more(puppy) its improved the resolution in xorg and keyboard in spanish ...more help in menus and hierarchy to solve config of usb wireless zydas ...(but no run , the autoconfig detected chip but no works)....the other diferent thing is the "There's lots of blue" that i said in previous post to care the dsl image, the blue color is used to do a transmission of safety in advertising to consumers , food markets etc...
both distros have strong communities
The aesthetics and the helps in dsl can be improved and its a work for the community(newbes). The top level of dsl(gurus)have to improve kernels and apps if its possible in 50 mb , another goal is to do a sub 100 mb that if is compatible with old pcs and few ram, the cds and pendrives have a lot of mb to use...
my veredict is to put a 4 to dsl...
Posted by lucky13 on May 25 2008,11:32I'm curious why he gave DSL a 2 (out of 5) for stability and being "useful." He mentioned that it comes with a variety of software, all of which works, and I've yet to encounter problems with DSL's stability on any machine on which I've run it regardless of method (CD, hd install, frugal, USB-HDD, etc.). It freaking works. What more does he expect?
He didn't bother to detail what he tried to do to get his hardware to work. Is it DSL's fault if he doesn't RTFM or that he uses hardware without native Linux drivers? Look at the hardware he used: bcm43xx, SATA hard drive, etc. Did he try the SATA bootcode? Doesn't say. Just says he couldn't access his hard drive or USB key. I have a bcm43xx card, too, but I blame myself when it comes to using it in Linux or BSD because I knew it lacked support outside of Windows. Where does the responsibility for choice of hardware fall -- on distro developers or on users? If it's on developers, how far are they supposed to go in supporting binary drivers and the kludges required to make them work? Obviously, he absolves himself for buying and using hardware that's not open source- and/or Linux-compatible.
I recently had a brief exchange with a podcaster for his review of Absolute Linux, a Slackware-based distro also targeted at older and less-endowed computers, because it totally got something wrong (about binary packaging versus compiling) and focused a lot more on aesthetics than function. He complained about the themes, wallpaper, and "ugly GTK1 or FLTK" apps. As if older computers should be bogged down with bloated graphics and heavy pixmapped themes, GTK2, and bleeding edge software.
The exchange starts at the link below and ends on his blog (linked in his comments). He claims I misunderstood him about compiling, but I subjected myself to listening to the podcast in question again and it's clear that he never mentions packaging and intimates throughout that "it's a cool project if you have time to compile things you'll need." Even mentions Gentoo in this context. He also defended the eye candy thing throughout.
< http://lucky13linux.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/podcast-hell/ >
It's always going to be apples and oranges -- at best, if it's even that close. When someone whose primary experience with Linux is something like Ubuntu tries to review something like Slackware or one of the BSDs, there's very likely going to be a disconnect because of the lack of familiarity with doing certain things yourself, with the differences between how things are handled, with presumptions between "users need these things done for them (edit: whether they want them or not)" versus "our users are savvy enough to do these things themselves (edit: IF they actually even want these things)." The result is too often a very misleading review that focuses on appearances but ignores the underlying paradigms involved and unique features stemming from the way things are done. That was at the heart of my complaint about the podcast above. It's at the heart of my statement yesterday that most reviewers and their reviews are full of sh**.
It certainly applies to this review of five tiny distros. There's no reference to the compression methods employed by the five distros (which is important when considering target audiences and how one distro can use 2.6 and be "small"-ish but may not be suitable for older hardware), there's nothing about which of them runs as root only (trading off security for ease of use a la Windows 95), nothing about installation options, nothing about binary packaging and ease of extending the base ISO. Like I wrote yesterday, that all takes a backseat to BS about how it looks and harping about kernel and app version numbers.
Posted by curaga on May 25 2008,12:17The other part of the users, the ones who prefer a dumbed-down-not distro and would never touch ubuntu, are those that don't generally do reviews. What a shame.
Posted by andrewb on May 25 2008,23:25Does this guy know what he's talking about:
What was he trying to do - does he think ndiswrapper is used to acces the hard drive or usb drives?
Ummmmmmmmmmm...... 386's are not Pentiums!
I run DSL (latest stable & RC's) on a 2 year old E6600 Core2Duo - 1Gb and 5 year old Athlon XP2800+ - 512Mb generic systems with SATA hard drives, quite frequently in VirtualBox emulator on XP on the first system & also on a Libretto laptop (P1 - 166MHz, 64Mb) I have tried to get Ubuntu onto another P3 900MHz box I have lying around, but having gone through the installation I got fed up with the slow start-up (amongst many other issues such as unusable slow response) & went back to DSL. I looked at puppy & the eye candy drove me nuts (I run XP with the win98 theme!). The helpful user community & large extension library for DSL are something no other distribution seems able to match.
Keep looking on the bright side & accept that some people just can't see the wood for the trees.
Posted by joer on May 26 2008,01:46What if this reviewer had only a circa 1990 laptop that only supports framebuffer? DSL would be the only small distro that works. Recall the flame war with the O'Reilly reviewer and the puppy people, when she could not get puppy to work on her laptops. Yep, framebuffer. So what good is a review of small distros for older computers when the reviewer uses the latest computer technology as a test machine. But then this reviewer would probably not know to press F3 to see the boot options.
Posted by roberts on May 26 2008,02:09I don't usually read reviews. But I think the comment from joer about using a review machine based on the target of the distro is good.
It seemed long ago to me, that the closer a distro looks like windows, operaters like windows, and feels like windows, the better the review. Forget "what's inside" its only the windows feel and eye candy that matters in reviews.
I believe we are the only 2.4 based system currently being actively maintained. Therefore any future reviews will only be more negative as future newest level hardware becomes the reviewer test machine.
Here is another caetgory that should be included. How well does the current release support prior releases or are the releases like a flavor-of-the-month. All prior versions become obsolete? Do they make their users dump everything they had in order to use the newest version?
Gosh, I dread if one of these guys tries to review tiny core. Therefore, let me now pubically proclaim:
1. Do not review DSL v3.x or 4.x unless the target review machine is circa kernel 2.4. We are NOT kernel 2.6.
2. Do not compare 2.4 kernel versions vs kernel 2.6 versions. It doesn't make sense.
3. Please don't review the upcomming tiny core. It is NOT a desktop. It does not look like Windows and has absolutley no eye candy.
Now watch, I will probably be called a *nix elitist.
Posted by jpeters on May 26 2008,04:21
Posted by curaga on May 26 2008,14:40Then we will be a happy group of *nix elitists
Posted by kuky on May 27 2008,15:19I emphasize in *nix ethilists
so beers to all
Posted by lucky13 on May 29 2008,20:34Here's another similar (BS) review that includes DSL 4.2.5.
< http://www.abzone.be/Review001_p001 >
Among the lowlights:
Regarding autodetection of hardware...
about the app selection...
about "package management"...
and his conclusion about DSL...
In his final analysis, he writes, "Especially Damn Small Linux is very lightweight, but also it's not really usable on 'more recent' systems. It think DSL is perfect for 486 or Pentium1-based systems but nothing more."
He admitted about DSL and other distros (including Arch Linux) that he didn't waste time reading documentation or trying to figure it out. He admitted he quickly nuked his Arch install because of that. Accordingly, this is how he ranked the "small distros" he reviewed:
His rationale was based on the usual flimsy/BS criteria: aesthetics (note how pleased he is with transparency by default), latest versions of apps (as though software has an expiration date), auto-detection of everything (even when the tools he needs are easily available or even already included), and even though he was using an older computer he really didn't give much focus on how much space each distro took up with its base plus the apps he decided he needed to add, how much RAM he was left with for apps following a normal boot with normal processes running, and how well it all worked in that context -- no, he was more interested in how pretty it was on his monitor and how bleeding edge the apps were even though his computer was a 600 mhz Compaq Armada with 256MB RAM.
And the blame is always on the distro rather than user when the user doesn't bother to RTM.
Posted by jpeters on May 30 2008,02:28
That's RTFM. You reviewers need to be more observant of good English usage.
Posted by WDef on May 30 2008,08:38dsl still requires configuration on some hardware as we know, and can't support (eg) hw acceleration for Intel Integrated graphics (at least on my main laptop).
Like it or not that is a valid point - unfortunately it is enough to lose these "reviewers" who don't follow that dsl is partly intended to support older hw in its current form (but not only P1 !). They don't understand that for example on machines with ipw2200 wifi (like mine) you have to change the interface name eth0 to eth1 in the torsmo settings or torsmo won't print your up/down speeds etc.
The bar gets set higher for usability in linux as things like Ubuntu (and even Fedora, LOL!) at last get easier to use, come out of the box supporting new hardware, and increasingly automate their configuration. That is to be expected.
We know Robert has done a great job of improving these things in dsl because we have the history to understand that and we also understand the value of dsl's simple extension system and the things that dsl has pioneered. The criticism that extensions are mostly "outdated" is a bit annoying since we have quite a lot of recent software in there.
It's easy to write these somewhat naive, often inaccurate criticisms off as ill-conceived but we know that Robert has been doing much work on next gen DSL and is ahead of them anyway.
No usability criticisms should just be blown off. They are perhaps best weighed against what the aims and use cases really are for dsl and what its priorities are. It could be that what some of these people want is another distro.
Posted by lucky13 on May 30 2008,12:06
Sometimes I play the civility card. And then when I do, I get criticized for it. Heh.
I'm not dismissing legitimate complaints about usability. I think it's ultimately the user's responsibility anyway because (1) he or she chooses the hardware in question and usually without any consideration for whether it's supported fully or only marginally in non-Windows operating systems; (2) there are valid considerations developers have to make with respect to licensing, obscurity, and the balance of what can fit on a CD/DVD or within the constraints of a particular size limit (e.g., 50 MB); and (3) not one distro I've ever used has come with guarantees or assurances and assigns all responsibility and liability on the user. I also think it's the user's responsibility regardless of OS to have a clue about its configuration because defaults aren't suitable for every user even if all hardware appears to be functional.
In this case, the reviewer had two things he said he couldn't get to work in DSL: a synaptics touchpad and a particular brand and model of wifi card. Both of those things are addressed in these very forums. The latter is also addressed in the wiki (I double checked). Rather than take any time or ask any questions to investigate it, the reviewer decided to start installing things he didn't even need to get one of those pieces of hardware working. And he apparently didn't take time to understand that folly, either, given his erroneous statements about both MyDSL and Debian. I don't think I blew off his concerns about usability; I think he blew off DSL (and Arch). Some people are in different places on learning curves. This reviewer chose to not even get on one with respect to two of the distros he "reviewed."
I know DSL isn't a panacea and it's not for everyone. My objection to most reviews is the frames of reference in which distros are all supposed to be judged according to a single set of criteria and almost always with zero regard for how and why they do things differently. Like Robert noted, it's apples and oranges when you start comparing 2.4 and 2.6. It's also apples and oranges when you compare 50MB to ~700MB, packaging or extension methods, and so on. As I asked this particular reviewer, if you don't bother to take the time to understand what you're reviewing, why bother reviewing it? That's not even a review, it's not particularly useful or informative, and it's a grave disservice to readers and to the distros.
Finally, I've decided that any time aesthetics is openly or obviously an overriding criterion in one of these misguided articles that it should be called a "beauty contest" instead of a review. Can DSL ever hope to win beauty contests without default transparent menus and 500kb wallpaper? Or will it only appeal to reviewers who actually bother to "get it" and come to appreciate its stability, speed, modularity, and utility beyond "DSL is perfect for 486 or Pentium1-based systems but nothing more" (a direct quote) and this insatiable demand for the most recent version of every single app even when the test hardware isn't bleeding edge?
Posted by WDef on May 30 2008,22:38You're right that anyone who purports to be writing a "review", meaning an evaluation of some sort, ideally has an obligation to (a) do their homework, and (b) know what they are talking about. Otherwise it should just be an opinion piece, a blog.
Back to reality ..
Posted by jpeters on June 02 2008,20:11Aside from reviewers' flaws and bias, the underlying message that rings true is:
1. DSL is a superb distro for older machines.
2. Its current importance is declining in a world of evolving software/hardware requirements.
This doesn't appear to be a criticism of what it does well, but suggests a (rapidly) declining user base.
I think Robert is correctly handling the situation with the upcoming tiny 2.6 version. There's no way to support both old and new machines with a <50mg distro *. More modern computers have much more ram, so that shoud be less of a concern (IMHO) than it used to be.
* note: kindof like inflation...it's not the number, but the relative value that matters.
Posted by humpty on June 04 2008,14:31There are fundamentaly two types of users; One who doesn't want to know what's under the hood and the other who does. They come from two camps of philosophy with equally valid arguments. And so the same goes for reviewers. Criticising the other camp is pointless.
It's when one implementation starts to let you down that you start considering looking for alternatives. Some people are avoiding Vista or Redhat for it's bloat, while others are avoiding to compile their own kernels from scratch. It all depends where along the scale you want to sit on.
Posted by mikshaw on June 04 2008,21:01I agree with the comments about the "review" being mostly useless and uneducated. You can't do a proper review of *any* distro, especially a mini distro, if you focus on looks and on how much has been "upgraded" since the last release.
The reviewer paints the biggest advantage of DSL (support for very old hardware) as if it were a disadvantage, and merely writes it off as obsolete.
While other small distros are "improving" by upgrading to bigger software packages and newer kernels, they are leaving behind the hardware that DSL continues to support. As long as that hardware has a use, DSL will have a use, and will continue to be the only distro that will work on those machines. The reviewer seems to see this as a flaw rather than understanding that it is one of DSL's primary goals, and therefore he is not qualified to make a fair comparison of it to the other distros.