Greetings! I've been running Windows since version 1.0 (dos, tos, c64 before that) and Macs since mid-90s. But Linux is altogether new for me (just got Slacko 5.4 installed on the hard drive).
Sadly, the machine in question is a 500MHz Celeron mendocino with a whopping 317 megs of RAM. 92 seconds CPU blowfish benchmark!! So I'll mostly be looking to see what kind of ultra-stripped down linux might be most usable - my friend who owns the machine is dreaming about somehow running a simple DAW on it... I remember running CWPA 'way back when' on a win98 machine with probably 256M RAM - so perhaps it might be possible?!!??
My friend here has no budget for the quad-core i7 w/ 8Gigs of RAM, and even a stripped down XP is sluggish on his box, (now dual booting with slacko !) but I told him I'd look into it and try to find out if something miraculous might be possible. If he could even get a digital 4-track recorder working, it would make his day...
Anyway, I'll be the latest guy pestering everyone with the noob questions about 'getting the most from ancient hardware'...
Hello and Welcome. This updated link should help you.
Crunchbang idles in about 55 - 75MB of memory. Not sure how it would handle a DAW though.
Hello and Welcome!
A straight Slackware install with a simple window manager idles around 65-75 MB RAM. I've never messed with audio software, so I'm not sure how much that would tax the system.
Perhaps a decent sized SWAP partition would help a bit.
Antix is always my favourite on a low-end machine like that. I've found it to be a bit snappier than crunchbang (not to say that crunchbang isn't awesome).
Crunchbang, AntiX, Lubuntu, and SliTaz are my favorites for low end machines. Welcome to the forum.
I run a standard Debian Squeeze installation on an old Pentium II 450 MHz with 312 MB of RAM. Works fine, and I use that particular machine for recording digital two-track audio from my standalone hard disk recorder and then editing and creating MP3's of the audio.
I seem to remember though that it was not possible to run the Debian Squeeze installation CD directly, for unknown reasons; I think because the installer required more than 312 MB of RAM to run. I don't think it was actually that that much RAM was needed, it was just that the way it was configured it would bail if it detected too little RAM. I thought of putting more RAM in the machine (easy to come by from scrapped machines), but at the time I took the easy way out and installed Lenny and did a dist-upgrade in order to get Squeeze. After that it works fine, although of course it's not the fastest machine around. Creating a 256 Mb/s MP3 runs at half real time, i.e. encoding 5 minute long file of 44.1 kHz audio takes about two and a half minute.
Don't know how good it would be running multiple tracks in a DAW, I think it would be pressing it a bit. I remember trying out a couple of DAW softwares when I got the machine, but I never liked using a computer for recording, got a standalone DAW instead which suits me better. But two tracks is fine.
IT appears to me that your friend's setup is pretty short on RAM, and has a shared-memory video. He probably doesn't play high end 3D games with such a setup, so you may lower the amount of shared memory. 16MB is enough for standard desktop application, the remaining is free for the operating system. Have a look in the BIOS, topic "Shared memory". You may also find an old video board sleeping on a shelf, freeing the whole memory, and giving a little boost in performances because the memory is not needed to be shared any more between the CPU and the graphics. I dropped a bunch of video boards like Matrox millenium, ATI Rage64, S3 virge, Geforce4MX some weeks ago. A Geforce4 is a pretty good choice for your friend's setup.
I made Lubuntu 10.04 run on a low end setup : A PIII-800 with 512 MB Ram, a Geforce4Ti (proprietary driver), a soundblaster PCI64, a 80GB HDD and it runs pretty good. Openoffice is a little bit long to open, but what can I expect from such a setup ? No difficulty installing the system, everything runs perfectly at install time, no particular driver setup needed. The system only suggested using the proprietary nvidia driver, which I did. With this setup I can even play low end 3D games, like "criticalmass" or "chromium-bsu"...
I have been using SliTaz 4 for a year now. It needs not more than 37 MiB, yet it has most of the packages you'd dream of supported.
Coming to the DAW issue, I can tell you I am using SliTaz with VLC in order to play video and audio (several instances at once) and my Atom system is performing well unless you throw at it a top resolution HD video, heavy to play for any system in fact.
As of support, I may say the SliTaz community is quite active and responsive when ti comes to help you fighting against your own system oddities.
They made an fan of me. I work in other machines as well (my day-to-day office machine is a Quad, with 8 GiB and XUbuntu), but when it comes to using this type of reduced resources equipment, SliTaz is my o.s. of choice.
No matter what distro you end using, welcome to the world of open and free software (free as in freedom of choice). Enjoy it!