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Installing Linux On Old Hardware? 507

cptdondo writes "I've got an old laptop that I've been trying to resurrect. It has a 486MHz CPU, 28 MB of RAM, a 720 MB HD, a 1.44MB floppy drive, and 640x480 VESA video. It does not have a CD drive, USB port, or a network port. It has PCMCIA, and I have a network card for that. My goal is to get a minimal GUI that lets me run a basic browser like Dillo and open a couple of xterms. I've spent the last few days trying to find a Linux distro that will work on that machine. I've done a lot of work on OpenWRT, so naturally I though that would work, but X appears to be broken in the recent builds — I can't get the keyboard to work. (OK, not surprising; OpenWRT is made to run on WiFi Access Point hardware which doesn't have a keyboard...) All of the 'mini' distros come as a live CD; useless on a machine without a CD-ROM. Ditto for the USB images. I'm also finding that the definition of a 'mini' distro has gotten to the point of 'It fits on a 3GB partition and needs 128 MB RAM to run.' Has Linux really become that bloated? Do we really need 2.2 GB of cruft to bring up a simple X session? Is there a distro that provides direct ext2 images instead of live CDs?"

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