[plug] ideas and hints wanted

Bret Busby bret at clearsol.iinet.net.au
Sat Jan 15 19:04:33 WST 2000

Bill Kenworthy wrote:
> Hi all, want some ideas please,
>     I have been asked to set a couple of low powered (486) systems that
> the families are getting from their workplace (pensioned off)  The
> likely candidates have 8 meg ram, probably dx4(100) and 500meg hard
> drives and wiped  clean. My first thought is windoze 3.11 and MSworks as
> they are mainly looking at wordprocessing for school assignments.  Games
> and internet/modem are not likely in the short term.  They are also new
> to computing so do not have any MS bias (yet!), just limited funds.  Is
> linux usable in 8meg?   The interface will have to be gui due to the
> experiance level and gui wordprocessing is much more intuitive for
> newcomers (I presume the kids use word/works at school) - is there a
> lightweight window manager system that would do.  KDE would be ideal as
> the usability is great and supplied KDE apps are good, but my experiance
> is that it takes a hefty cpu, particularly if a high resolution is
> used.  In this case 640x480 is probably all that will be used (14inch
> monitor).
>     Does anyone have any experiance setting up machines for this level
> of user.  I am interested in hints such as configuration - bother
> setting up accounts for each person, or just go for a single user
> account? only use root?

NEVER only use root!

"Oops, I typed in rm * (or rm .) by accident. (or, "I typed in "chmod ." by
accident") (or, the cat walked on the keyboard, and it showed rm /* -r, just
before the cat walked on the enter key) I can't get it to do anything. What do I
do now? ..."

> (will have to educate them on how to use
> accounts etc which is a BIG drawback with only limited gains).  What I
> am after is something as usable as windows, without a lot of training or
> technical stuff for the users to do.
> BillK

They would not need to know about the root account; just user accounts. It would
be easy enough to set up user accounts, and get them to log into their
particular user accounts.

What about xenix? I am told some big businesses in Perth are still using xenix
running on 386's and will not give that up.

What about the mini-Linuxes? Or, what about using something like Slackware, and,
if they could type in "Windows" (or whatever the command is to run Win3.x), they
should be able to type in "startx".

Also, another possibility is to hunt around for RAM to increase the RAM to 16MB,
and possibly 1GB HDD's. It is amazing what can be obtained for next to  nothing,
if not for nothing.

We have a 486 DX 50 (I think it is), with 16MB of RAM, running Red hat 6 with
GNOME. The resolution is 800x600 on a 14 inch monitor, and is good, both with
the view, and with the speed.

For school assignment word-processing, they could use vim, which is not very
resource-demanding, and it is easy enough to learn the basic commands, such as
"i", "a", ":wq" and ":q", and "ZZ". They wouldn't need to know much more of the
vi commands, so that would be easy enough to use. They could proof read their
work (which everyone should do, anyway), and, as long as they do that, the spell
checking and grammar checking should be satisfied.

On my Cyrix 6x86 (486 instruction set), I am running Red Hat 5.2, with fvwm95,
and I prefer that interface to the GNOME and KDE interfaces. It is a matter of
personal preference, as to the GUI and the window manager.

Good luck.


Bret Busby


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