Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Breath Life Back Into an Old PC

Every once in a while I like to head out and look for a minimalist version of Linux that could be installed on hardware that is more than 10 years old because even after several Technology Purges, I still have a few computers kicking around that are on the wrong side of the 10 year mark and just don’t cut it for the latest and greatest of anything.  I found a new spin on the Debian OS that uses a new Fork of the KDE Desktop called Trinity and thought that I would give it a spin.  The Q4OS has stated Hardware Requirements that are indeed minimalist:  300 MHz for a Processor (circa 1996-97), 128 MB of RAM and just 3 GB of Hard Drive Space.  This is indeed a light weight distro and the download even only is 319 MB for the 64 Bit version.


So with it indeed being designed for older PCs, how will it operate when I unleash the Oracle Virtual Machine configured with 4 GB of RAM and a 20 GB HDD?  Well I was most impressed with the Auto Installer that asks no questions and just installs, the whole process from download click to desktop was less then 15 minutes so kudos on speed oh wise developers.

The Auto Installer does not create a User so just clicking on the default Admin User takes us in to a sparse but elegant desktop that is devoid of all the flash and pizzazz that some modern desktops have taken us to.  It is just simple…this is something that I can get behind but what impressed me most, is that of all the Distros that I have downloaded and tested, this was the first one that recognized that it was running in this environment and offered to download the Virtual Machine Assistant…this was getting better and better until I looked at what actually came with the diminutive download and that was when my heart sank just a little bit:


  • Konqueror Browser

Yes…that is it beyond the Accessories and Tools that allow you to tweak the environment…but this my friends is not necessarily a bad thing…this gives me the user complete freedom to actually build out the distro as I see fit.  It is Debian Based so I headed off to check out the Software Packager (only to find that there was not one of those either).  So I opened the console and installed Synaptic Package Manager…it was nice to find that Q4OS uses the latest Wheezy Build of Debian as its base and I was off to the races building and configuring an OS that while the minimum requirements are low…the potential for the desktop are endless.

I actually really like it when developers look to building to the lowest common denominator…this OS flies through every operation that I throw at it and all the while just looking elegant and without the bells and whistles that distract from the business of just doing what the computer is supposed to do when you power it on.


The unattended install makes it great for a new Linux User…but the lack of a Package Manager at the get go is an oversight that should be addressed…if you are going to offer a minimalist OS, you do need to offer the ability to build upon the foundation so that my house and your house do not look exactly the same, despite having the same specs and foundation.





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