[nSLUG] small linux

Dop Ganger nslug at fop.ns.ca
Thu Apr 6 14:31:09 ADT 2006

On Wed, 5 Apr 2006, Diane Derrick wrote:

> I haven't posted in a while but every time I do I get good help.  So 
> here's the project.  I have and old pentium 200 with 256 MB ram.  What I 
> want to do is to get a small enough version of linux to boot from a cf 
> card.  The goal is to have NAS and if possible play MP3s and movies from 
> the hard drive.

I wouldn't recommend trying to play movies on it. I have a PIII-600 laptop 
running Geexbox (http://www.geexbox.org) that is *just* fast enough to 
play most AVIs out there - but it still drops frames on some of the files 
with higher resolution. You might be able to do it if you have a hardware 
MPEG card you can offload the processing to, but it means you have to 
convert all your files to MPEG format. I suspect it'd be cheaper to 
upgrade the processor, unless you can find a cheap card.

MP3s should be fine, though.

> Some of the small distros I have looked at lead me to believe that they 
> access the hardware directly and will be able to overcome hdd bois 
> limitations.  Is this true for all, or most linux?

Generally speaking, yes. The trick is to partition the hard drive so that 
the machine boots the kernel in the first chunk of the drive under the 
BIOS limit - usually 8 gig for a machine of this vintage, if I recall 
correctly. If you have the kernel boot from /boot and have /boot as a 
(say) 60 meg partition that's the first partition (eg, /dev/hda1) you 
should be good to go. If you're using a CF card to boot from, then the 
hard drive should just work as one big partition.

> I have looked a few different distros including freenas and ByzantineOS. 
> Basically I am looking for suggestions.  The MP3 and movie thing may be 
> too much for the P200, and I would have to deal with the TVout thing to 
> play movies on a big screen, but I thought I'd try to make use of the 
> old guy.  Any thoughts?

I'd recommend keeping it as a NAS box, and not much more. 256MB of RAM 
should give it a nice cache, so it should be able to serve out files 
pretty well. Perhaps a web interface for playing MP3s, and tuning into 
online radio stations (shoutcast et al)?

Cheers... Dop.


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