Like most people who do tech work of some sort or another for a living I love my toys. I’d love to have the latest and greatest gee whiz system and if I won the lottery I probably always would. Today’s best full-featured distros all have native 64-bit versions. One of my favorites, Vector Linux was a little late to the table but I’m pleased to report that the current release, Vector Linux 5.9 Standard, has a 64-bit version in beta right now. Good news.
Of course not everyone can afford the latest and greatest. In the developing world in particular people make do and sometimes manage to do wondrous things with what folks here in the United States would call obsolete. Even if hardware is new it is sometimes designed to be what would normally be considered a low spec system either to be energy efficient (green computing) or low cost. The laptop designed for OLPC is a great example. So are green systems and low cost systems designed for use in first world, developed countries, including systems based on Nano-ITX and Pico-ITX technologies. ASUS Eee PC, designed for ease of use, small size, and low cost is another great example that’s generated a lot of buzz. I know for most of you I’m preaching to the choir but I actually was criticized in a comment to my recent review of AliXe 0.11b for suggesting keeping old computers running is somehow a good idea.
Yes, there are a bunch of lightweight Linux distributions that meet this need nicely. Vector Linux started out as such a distro a decade ago but evolved into a full featured distro. The Vector Linux developers have returned to their roots, though, and now have Vector Linux Light in alpha. VL Light is an ultra light version of VL built with a current kernel and current applications but designed to run smoothly in just 64MB of RAM. I have Vector Linux successfully running on an old Liberty small footprint box with just a Pentium 133MMX processor and 32MB of RAM. That’s normally Damn Small Linux territory but it’s nice to be able to run something a bit more modern and a bit more capable on the old beast.
Kudos to the developers at Vector Linux for scaling down as well as scaling up. There’s nothing more friendly to the environment or the budget than keeping an old system going rather than building or buying a new one. So long as a computer can do what you need it to do it’s not obsolete. I’ll be following up my AliXe review with reviews of other lightweight and small footprint Linux distributions, including Vector Linux Light when it’s released.