My beloved Mule keeps on truck­ing. She’s a Dell Dimen­sion XPS P133c and has been quite the work­horse for me since I bought her back in 1996, serv­ing many roles from desk­top, to server, to test­bed, and any­thing in between. It’s almost archaic by today’s stan­dards which is why I’m glad Linux et al. are around because you can breathe new life into your old machines using a light­weight distro.

Last year, I had put Vec­tor­Linux 5.1 on there. I even man­aged to con­fig­ure an ISA net­work card. DMAs, IRQs… boy, aren’t you glad plug-n-play was devel­oped? Unfor­tu­nately, Mule devel­oped an X Win­dows issue. I fig­ured it was a good oppor­tu­nity to upgrade to 5.8 and it would appear that they’ve improved the dis­tro. Unfor­tu­nately, it sim­ply was also more than Mule could han­dle despite being a light­weight distro.

I’ve since down­graded Mule to DeLi Linux. Since DeLi Linux is spec’d against a 486 with 16 MB of RAM, Mule has no prob­lem han­dling the OS. It’s true. I’m quite impressed with the respon­sive­ness, but that’s not sur­pris­ing given the opti­mized nature of the dis­tro. This light­ness does come at a price though. Lots of use­ful util­i­ties are miss­ing. The one glar­ing exam­ple are the util­i­ties to help cus­tomize IceWM. You are left to edit con­fig­u­ra­tion files on your own. It really isn’t that big of an issue for me since Mule’s next role will be an inter­net access com­puter in the guest room. Once con­fig­ured, I’m just going to put the com­puter in the room and for­get about it. How­ever, for those who will use it as a day to day machine will be quite annoyed with try­ing to get the UI to look just the way they want. For exam­ple, it’s not very obvi­ous how to change the desk­top wall­pa­per, and the included themes leave much to be desired if you’re used to some­thing more flashy.

Given today’s prices for com­puter hard­ware, even used com­puter hard­ware. You’re much bet­ter off buy­ing some­thing bet­ter to run a more fully fea­tured dis­tro. How­ever, if you have the hard­ware on hand and the intended appli­ca­tion isn’t that tax­ing, you may want to con­sider res­ur­rect­ing the com­puter using a light­weight distro.

Comments are closed.