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Thread: Old hardware brought back to life

  1. #231
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Re: Old hardware brought back to life

    I've got a Pentium III (32-bit SSE-only processor) with 512MB that I'm trying to use mostly as a X Server and VNC/RDP client, the idea being that a remote machine running is doing all the heavy lifting, and the old PC is mostly just a GUI console with some limited functionality.

    To that end, I installed Trisquel Mini 9.0, which is a Lubuntu 18.04 derivative distro with the packages even further narrowed down. I must say, just doing that was not easy, and many basic things are not working:
    • The 'Ubiquity' installer for Ubuntu crashes on non-SSE2 equipment because it uses WebKitGtk to display an entertaining graphical slideshow during the installation. Alas, WebKitGtk is in fact the back-end for some web browsers, and it is now using SSE2. Worse, the hidden option to hide the installer slideshow during the installation is broken, and setting that causes the installer to crash (on all hardware type). Recompiled WebKitGtk without SSE2 and was able to get the installation to finally complete!
    • VNC clients are behaving funny. The remote screen displays, but mouse clicks are not recognized on the remote system. I'm assuming that illegal instructions are happening internally in the graphical library but being handled quietly (i.e. silent errors). The situation does seem to mess up the x11vnc server on the remote machine too!
    • Remote X windows are simply not displaying on the laptop. The remote process thinks that its window is up and showing, but locally nothing has actually appeared! Again, I'm assuming illegal instructions are happening internally in the graphical library and being handled insufficiently (i.e. silent errors)

    At this point, a Raspberry Pi 3 using ARM seems to perform better than this laptop does. It's really frustrating! And it really isn't that the hardware isn't just as capable, but rather too many packages have introduced the newer instruction set now. I am thinking that a full emulator like QEMU might be what these machines now need, however that sort of process needs space, memory, and speed to run an effective virtualization environment, and that is not the type of thing these machines are going to be able to handle very well; Rather, it will just make them perform even more awfully (even if that approach might actually promise even support for a virtual 64-bit environment on these machines).

    What i think we really need now is a full blown 32-bit SSE-only certified Linux distro, but to do that right is going to require examining the compile flags of thousands of packages, and modifying and recompiling a good number of them to stay off the newer instruction sets.
    Last edited by cparke; 3 Weeks Ago at 05:31 PM.

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