[sf-lug] old processors and kernel optimization for them (continuation of questions re ThinkPad P266

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Oct 24 20:09:12 PDT 2007

Quoting Alex Kleider (a_kleider at yahoo.com):

> You've been great helping me and again I'm very grateful.
> A few follow up comments and questions if I may.
> I did open the "back door" to the "SODIMM" bays and have had the memory
> out for inspection. Trying to count the number of contacts was a
> serious test of my vision! 

Honest, you shouldn't have to:  If you figure out what _IBM model_ it is,
then you can look up on the Web precisely what sort of SODIMM is
required -- e.g., number of pins, SDRAM vs. EDO, and speed rating --
online.  But I'm guessing 144-pin SDRAM, either PC66 or PC100.

> We have new maxed out "sticks" on their way for $17 each so it is
> being done as you advised. (savings of ~$150 compared to the computer
> shop, I thought the shop would be more expensive but never dreamed it
> would be that much of a ripoff)

Classic market inefficiency:  Customers who aren't aware of and don't 
consider alternatives get locked into the few options they _do_ know 
of, at inflated prices.  Comprehension is worth money.  (_Enough_
comprehension is:  What Alexander Pope said was that a _little_
knowledge was a dangerous thing.  Sufficient knowledge is safer.)

> I now understand perfectly about the kernel chick&egg problem.
> You mention that Mandriva as an example of a distro that is
> downloadable in both i586 (what I'd need) as well as i686 versions.
> I'll check out if I can find such a download.

Er, Mandriva's pretty huge.  Don't spend time downloading DVD or
(multiple) CD images until you've checked recommended system

> If there are others of which you know please mention them. 

<sigh>  Lots.

http://distrowatch.com/ tracks, at any given time, hundreds of active
Linux distributions (and some BSD ones).  

I don't do distro advocacy, so you're going to have to find one that
meets your needs, but notice that they attempt to track many aspects of
distros including perceived popularity (by a metric of their devising).
If you find some way of your own preference to decide to look at
information on some particular distro listed on Distrowatch.  Let's 
say you're curious about Debian.  You arrive at Distrowatch's page about


Notice the row for "Processor Architecture".  For the latest (4.0)
release, the following CPU architectures are listed:

 AMD64, Alpha, Arm, HPPA, i386, IA64, m68k, Mips, Mipsel, PPC, S390, Sparc

Mandriva's page (http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=Mandriva)
by comparison says:

 i586, x86_64

Of course, listings on Distrowatch might well be fallible -- but I
notice to my surprise that they indeed seem to no longer have an i686 
download, only i586 and x86_64.

Getting back to your question:  Though I don't do distro advocacy, the
question comes up so frequently that I feel I should give people some
starting points for making up their own minds.  So, here:

That item is necessarily generic, and doesn't take into account
particular special needs, like selecting for low-spec / very old
computers.  But you may find it useful, if you bear that in mind.

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