April 23, 2019

.comment: Little-Iron Chef - page 7

Relieving Ennui

  • March 28, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

My little experiment of running both Linux and OS/2 on a P-133 notebook with 56 megs of memory was enlightening. It's not surprising that OS/2 ran well, because even with Voice Type its documentation never recommends more than 32 megs of memory. Code size is correspondingly small. And it has features that nobody else has produced, even though active development of it ceased five years ago.

Configuration in OS/2 varies from very easy to maddeningly complicated, while Linux, though complicated, at least makes plain text configuration files available for just about everything.

The big lesson is that modern Linux distributions can no longer claim to run on minimal hardware. Yeah, you can boot the kernel and do some other things, but a productive desktop running X isn't part of the equation. (Before you write saying that if I'd used XFCE or something the results would have been better, remember that XFCE doesn't come with its own apps, so running applications would involve loading a whole bunch of libraries. Slowness delayed is still slowness. StarOffice recommends 64 megs of memory.)

This would all be a great recommendation for OS/2, but OS/2 is not a practical choice for most people anymore. You can still buy it, but the price is in the $250 area. You can't get DeScribe at all. (The story is told of the Boston woman of old who, asked where she purchased her attractive bonnets, replied, ``We don't get our hats; we have our hats.'' Well, OS/2 users don't get their DeScribe; they have their DeScribe.) The applications that exist are pretty much all there will be, and many of the best of them are difficult to find if you can get them at all.

No, the lesson to be learned here is that we've gotten a little fat, indeed bloated; that doing remarkable things does not require anything like the resources that Linux is increasingly demanding. The spec sheet for the new Caldera workstation beta says it requires a Pentium II or better. The code has gotten big and slow not because it needs to but because it can. Dive into the junkyard for hardware, and you'll need to get your software there, too. And when you do, you might be surprised at how competent it is.

I watched the last minutes of the videotape. Who would win? The surviving judge -- it's hard to keep the Baldwin brothers straight -- when asked to give a score, said, ``Whatever.'' This produced a quandry but for the arrival of police, who took poor Joey away in connection with the disappearance of a carting company executive. The previews of the next show promised that the judges would all be musicians whose CDs are sold exclusively in late-night cable television advertisements. Might be worth watching.

If it happens. I don't know if they'll get on the network. I know that my old Dell notebook will.

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