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  1. #1

    Iso Bloat, What Happened?


    Well I am a newbie to any *modern* distro of linux. I have so far tried to
    run Peanut Linux. (A relativly "small" distro at 341mb per image) and a "Live CD image" of Knoppix Debian "Damn Small Linux" (around 40mb)
    Which I like.

    The truth is I entered into the evil empire (Became a windoze user) a number of years ago, and at that time operating systems were often packs of utilities and boot floppies. I like Linux because it does retain this philosophy to some extent. I am currently looking into Debian Linux as this involves a base image (180mb) and you can add on to that as you wish.

    But I do have a big problem with this 650mb single download stuff. And the solutions so far that are on offer. I mean having just endured the process of obtaining and installing Windoze XP (I hate it) and Visual Studio . Net (I despise it) with those packs of CDs that will be obselete in 3 months time, and will require either "updates" or buying stuff anew. I decided to switch to linux. All those nice, well documented Goodies I can get from the GNU website were too tempting.

    So yes I came to linux, as somene who used Unix years ago with probably a degree of rosy eyed belief in the way distribution may be now.

    But sadly. So Far I have had problem with the idea of having to download huge isos and in one case isos that are "Personal" and "trial" editions of some distro that will be going or is going commercial. Distros that would take up 2 gig of drive space in one case. Or the much more realistic, and ethical GNU stuff which is wonderful but way too fiddly to download. And use. I need help with that.

    I am not saying linux is bad, far from it. I am saying I sense that I am just nervous of having left windoze and feel that Linux users tend to see disgruntled windoze users (or ex-windoze users) as people who may want more of the same. I dont. I dont like all singing all dancing installers. I hate if not despise having stuff I dont want "bundled" into the choice of distros I am looking at.

    Linux is better than that. Linux is a small eficcient kernal around which things can be aded? Windoze is a "kernel" that is so integrated with all the junk added to it, it cannot function without all the bloat. And lets face it Windoze was originally a desktop for Dos.

    So here is where I am certain I need help. As a linux newbie. (I am a linux newbie, honest)

    Where can I get a base installation that can be loaded into a single partition on a linux native machine?

    And then where can I get gz files containing just what I actually want, when I want them? (And are clearly documented)

    Do I really need to download big CD distros and or pay for huge CD sets when all I really want is a small efficient, easy to work with linux installation with the additional stuff like desktops and apps I actually want?

    I write in numerous languages. C++, OOB Pascal, X86 assembly and plain pascal. I can find all I need either from the GNU wbsite, The Freepascal website, I can use Lazarus and Kylix "personal" or "open"
    to port the OOB Pascal. That is just fine by me. I really need a distro which has the kernal, a good desktop (Yes I am stuck with having to use GUIs obvioulsy). I would like to use the GTK widget set, because it is nice and straightforeword.

    So if anyone out there can save me time and other peoples bandwith. And tell me of any base distro which includes a nice reliable linux kernel and the basic utilities I need to get started. But does not go into Iso's that are in excess of 100mb or at the other end, 2mb floppy sets that have the kernel a few command line tools and little else. But rather something in between that I can work with while I re-adjust and be rid of the bad habits I acquired through using software from the evil empire (Microshaft).

    I am not going to lie. MS sofware does taint your programming and end user practices. And I am not at present all that competent at anything while adjusting to Linux. OK the really rusty Unix expereince may be helpful to me. but yes I admit I have stepped into an unfamilliar place when adopting Linux. Some stuff is familliar like Lazarus, The GNU stuff and so on, via the windoze ports I have been using. But there is this huge gap between the basic kernel and the huge distros (In some cases "personal trial shareware free download free to try sell your soul to buy") distros that dont resemble open source or if they do they are tied up by complex patent laws.

    It is becoming ever more reassuring to find some half smiling Gnu logo.
    and those vast libraries of goodies that would enable me to progress with the work I actually want to be doing (Porting my bio-informatics, open source software to linux). That does not include the "sell your soul" caluses. Just the open source goods and interest. But where do I go from here? Which Distro?

    I admit I do know I need to know more now I am moving over to linux.


    All the best wishes


  2. #2
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    London, UK
    I believe Gentoo ( ) has a 140Mb ISO that will allow you to get a very minimal system up and running and is compiled from source during install time. The gentoo documentation is fairly extensive as well. Installing software in gentoo i believe is just a case of "emerge <application-name>".

    Not many people IMO (esp. newbies) take your view of having only minimal stuff on a CD, so you have distros supplied on 7+ sometimes CD's.

    The problem is that a lot of new people switching to GNU/Linux expect everything to be like MS Windows, bloat 'n' all, with pretty installers, and no need to read any documentation etc.

    Its good to see more people who are anti bloat, and have a mindset of "my system should do what i want it to do", welcome to


  3. #3
    Hello Jason

    Thanks. I am looking at Gentool as an option. I have had a few problems with the download. More server side I think. so I will just wait till the traffic calms and try again.

    I have just put the Knoppix Debian mini distro ("Damn Small Linux") on a clean drive. I think it is wonderful. Beats Windoze any day and the size of it is not bad. One thing I really like is the low level acess. The Desktop is interesting I have to admit. But what I really like are the small reminders of a past experience. Mounting drives being one example.

    You said:

    "Not many people IMO (esp. newbies) take your view of having only minimal stuff on a CD, so you have distros supplied on 7+ sometimes CD's.

    The problem is that a lot of new people switching to GNU/Linux expect everything to be like MS Windows, bloat 'n' all, with pretty installers, and no need to read any documentation etc."

    Well I am really glad to hear you say that I thought I was appearing a bit of a dinasour with my going on about stuff like assembler and a fear of huge resource hungry GUIs

    It was the .net hysteria that got to me about the latest horrors from the evil empire. Borland, the people who brought us TASM and Turbo Pascal have really gone and sold out. OK they are a commercial company but until recently I was comfortable with thier products. (I am still planning to use Open Kylix for the Pascal work at some point though along with Lazarus).

    But it says a hell of a lot about the evil empire when they get the most easy going of commercial software makers to really adopt the philosophy of the evil empire.

    As for the evil empires own "development" software...
    I actually found out that VB coders for example would have more of a job re-coding for .Net than I would with OO Pascal when migrating from Windoze to Linux. In ten years time I will be coding pretty much as I am coding now. Evil empire users will be stuck with multi-layered affairs that are "Languages" on top of "Languages" on top of other "languages" on top of something that pretends to be a user to chip language like Assembler.
    But in truth will be pseudo asm running on an emulator of some sort.

    Dont get me wrong I dont dislike High Level Languages and desktops. I use OOP for example. But I draw the line when someone who is an MS user tells me they consider Pascal to be a real nuts and bolts language.

    And the C++ migration from Visual C++ to Visual C++.Net is I believe equally difficult. Thankfully I have been using Windoze ports of the GCC compiler using Bloodshed Dev C++ as the IDE. So I am immune from the whacky upgrade cycles of the evil empire.

    I actually feel very very relieved that despite my encountering a distro (Peanut) I was not too keen on initially. I have found the very things I have been looking for in the more modern versions of linux. The dropped to HD Knoppix Debian distro is really nice and not cluttered. It was just a matter of finding the right distro.

    While I am the first to admit I am a linux Newbie. The philosophy behind linux is one I have been missing, and one that is both sensible and familliar to me.

    I get the distinct feeling that the evil empire wants everyone networked into the evil empire and doing everything from writing letters to developing software in real time online. I notice that it is always "Winmodems" and "Broadband providers require windoze". And that the evil empire does not want people to either know or understand the technology they are using.

    Like "150mb Service Packs" just to keep windoze running is a classic example of spaghetti coded, bloated junk being forced on people as an "operating system" I can see what runs with Linux. I can even see the source code. I can see the clear distinction between a desktop, a shell and and a kernel. Most windoze users are being brainwashed into believing that the 2 gigabyte, spaghetti coded, "compiled" mess they are stuck with *is* the "kernel".

    What makes a 50 mb distro of linux work better than a 2 gig distro of windoze? the fact that is is tightly coded, designed with transparency in mind and it still retains those little elements I actually remember fondly from my unix days. As I get to know it I get to like it more.

    I am waffling, sorry about that. I am just so angry that when I recived the .net "visual studio" through the post, all I got was yet more gigabytes of rubbish for the price I paid. It is like a denial of service attack. Just masses of junk data. (Perhaps that is why DOS is called DOS When I can get far superior, better designed development tools that run on linux. A superior operating system. with all the layers of how it works completely visible to those who want to learn.

    This is a migration I am going to find enjoyable.

    All the best wishes.

    Thanks for the welcome


    PS do you know of any good assembler tools for linux?

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux Engineer Giro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Double post for some reason Try using a mirror ->

  6. #5
    You could check out NASM. It is used by eg. LILO so that should prove its usability.

    Oh, and don't worry about .NET. Check out DotGNU

    Good luck

  7. #6
    First off my experience with installing Linux is limited to Red hat so just be aware that I don’t have any direct knowledge of the other distros. But something to be aware of is that with Red hat (ver 9 and now Fedora) is that yes, you do need to download three 650 Meg iso images to do an install. But you can choose a “custom” install and install as little or as much as you want. You will be presented with a list every program that is available for install and you can get what you want and leave the rest out. Once installed you can use the “add/remove programs” tool to install from the CD’s or just get the things you want from the web.

  8. #7
    Hi All

    I have concluded that I am pretty much a dinasour so bear with me and my lengthy reply.

    Hi Logan5

    Red Hat was one of the larger distros I had in mind when considering what may be impractical. It is not that I have any problems with Red Hat.I have seen it running on other machines and quite liked it. But there are a few reasons why at present I feel that it would be difficult for me to work with it.

    Firstly there is the size of the distro. As well as the installers.
    The only reference point into Linux I would have is my somewhat outdated knowlege of Unix. In a way I would want to take it from there, which is really at the low level. Hence my using one or two of the micro distros like University Linux. And the slightly bigger Knoppix Debian DSL. (which has a desktop).

    To me the idea of using led-along installers to copy a large number of files that I am not able to keep track of, is not how I feel best able to learn.

    To draw a comparison that may help. I recently saw a documentary where there were these women who had worked on the really early computer systems. They wrote in assembler. and often the listings were translated on to paper tape or cards. One of them said that she could sit in front of a command line screen, type line after line of assembler, assemble it, link it and have an application running quite quickly. But put her in front of a screen full of "Icons and boxes" and she felt as if she were lost. While I am myself a lot younger and went into computing in the 1980s I can see clearly what this one woman was saying. I feel the same way. DOS and Unix were something I could deal with. Windoze 1 to 3x were again sort of familiar. But from windoze 95 onwards. There was some disconnection from machine and user. The beauty of Linux, as I am finding, is that there is not quite that barrier between the low level and the end user. While I can navigate windoze and work with it really well. Using Delphi I have written good DNA sequence analysis software. I did notice things like app sizes in excess of 500 kb and slow running speeds. I did use MASM for a while. But yes it is nice. but not what I want when number crunching. I just wanted the basic module of code to run unhindered by the user interface and all the code supporting it. Easier to retrieve the result after the calculation has been done with some front end application, which is perhaps a purist view on my part but for me an ideal way of working, even if it is not always practical to do so. This is why I am looking at minimal distros of linux in the way i am. It makes life easier for me. But thanks for your suggestion it does help. because when I do feel the need to be running a full distro the modularity of Red Hat you describe does seem a useful point to consider.

    Hi Kriss

    I have used "windoze" ports of NASM as well as MASM and TASM There was also this wierd thing called "Emu" which emulates an X86 machine while running the assembler code. NASM was the assembler I had in mind when moving to Linux as this runs nicely on Linux. And it is also open being on the sourceforge site now. Making it an ideal choice. So I will be using this Thanks

    As for .Net. Well erm. I am really resssured that the GNU answer to it has appeared. Problem is when I bought the "Visual Studio" CDs from the evil empire and started talking to a VB coder. There was this problem of the VB part of Visual being so different, as well as costly from VB6. I wondered how long it would take for yet another radical specification change and yet another dig into the bank account.

    I was myself looking at the C++ part of Visual Studio. And I found the additional and "enhancements" mindboggling. Given that I have used the evil empires earlier incarnations of C++. I just felt ripped off. The real question I have would be wether or not the GNUNET requires any radical code alteration for compliance. It seems to be consistent from what I have been reading (Thankfully) and does not cost a fortune. So I will definateley be interested in working with it at some point.

    The thing I really like is this is a community effort answering to the evil empire. It is not quite as brutal an answer as 40Hex, 411, Nuke or something of that ilk (sometimes I wish it were), but to my mind an effective (and legal) answer. You can tell from what I am saying that my hatred of gates and his "software" is quite extreme.

    Like £500+ for a pile of spaghetti coded, incompetently written, bloated crap. And probably another £500+ in a few months time due to specification changes. I best not carry on. I will get moderated. I am sure of it. Microsoft make my blood boil. I am a confirmed Gates Hater!

    Hi Giro

    Yes, Sorry about that. Blame IE6. I am putting Mozilla onto my machine as I speak. It is not a different mirror I should be using, but a different browser.

    All the best wishes

    And thanks


  9. #8
    Linux Engineer Giro's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Hey leftwindows if you dont need all the stuff from mozilla like the chat etc.. Try Firebird it a great standalone browser and it based on mozilla code the gekoo engine etc.. And if you have a broadband connection dowloading a full 7 CD distro takes about a day which isnt that bad.
    And dont worry about being up to date you will be soon :P

  10. #9
    Hello Giro

    Errm I have a problem. I have had hassle when trying to get a distro that meets my needs so please bear with the ensuing rant.

    I do have a Broadband connection, but is only 150 kbps and goes via a really bad cable based service provider (NTL). So really big ISOs probably wont be the best solution.

    Thanks for the tip about Firebird. I am after minimal istallations of most of the things I need.

    Actually this is bugging me a bit really.

    I have to admit to still being nervous about downloading 7 ISOs I have been reading a lot of the literature on some distros since you last posted. The impression that I could well be downloading Special personal community limited and allegedly open "Editions" puts me off, usually to a windoze escapee such terminology means "nagware". I have noticed this particularly with Red Hat and And Mandrake for some reason. Given the choice of spending days downloading what I dont know about. And downloading 200 mb of what I probably do. I think it is more practical for me to work from the basics upwards.

    I am basically trying to get away from the very things I hate about windoze. these things being what some of the larger Linux Distros are trying to emulate, presumably in trying to attract windoze users away from windoze. It does puzzle me that with say most windoze distros a few floppies or one CD seemed to be the limit. With Linux it adds up to 7 full CDs in one instance?

    I just get the impression that some see those leaving windoze as people who demand something identical to windoze, You only have to look at the KDE desktop to see what I mean. The default wallpaper is like an enlarged DLL Icon in the doze. This is not what I myself, personally am after.

    What I am finding hard to understand is how an ultra effecient Unix like operating system like Linux came to be distributed with the add ons and ended up to be bigger than windoze?

    what happened?

    I am sorry if that sounds harsh but I know what I am looking for, and what I am trying to avoid. I am not hostile to your suggestions, I appreciate it i know I do not want to expereince the multi CD nightmare I expereinced last month.

    My needs are quite simple. A small distro of linux that I can put various (Mainy GNU) development packages on to so I can port 10 years worth of coding over to linux. What am I going to use say Star Office or some seriously heavy duty on the resources desktop for?

    I have seen some useful possibilities. But there is the catch. Core linux a really "small" distro at 80 mb. and there is Debian Med which not only looks OK but actually appears to be orentated towards people like me who write biology software. But then when trying to actually get it I ended up on a website in German, saw the link to get the "small iso" (650mb) and ended up with Error 404.

    I think this is my problem I go looking for information get led around 20 websites that say little. Only to be led by the nose to a big distro or "Error 404".

    I know I am probably setting myself up for a steeper learning curve. But really feel resentful when an "operating system" (It does not matter what it is, windoze. Linux, MacOS) if it takes over and does not let me do what I want, it does not belong on my drive. I have had a gut full of being pulled like a pig on the end of a rope, through pretty "installers" that lead you up the path and down the dale only to crash. (Peanut Linux is the world leader of linux distros in that department). Being boxed in by some GUI that takes up more memory than used by a 64 bit mainframe. the KDE desktop on Peanut pulls a really cool stunt if you use 256 colours. It takes the titlebars away. You have to use a higher colour depth. thanks but no thanks. and being presented with "Dialog boxes" that give two options, crash or crash. This is the nightmare windoze has down to a fine art. But Linux!!!? As you have gathered I am finding one or two linux distros who are developing similar bad habits. I know this is a little rant. But I do know what I want and what I really dont. To me 7 CDs downloaded from some FTP site that is nagging about Bandwith (Like I have a choice?) which may end up as some pull the pig installer that ends with either a crash or some "this is a personal edition the limitations are!!!!" Nagscreen. the thought of it makes me angry.

    Basically I have read for years how good linux is. I have read a lot of good things. But here I am in 2004 looking at the prospect of more bloat, nag, misleading "installers", and in some cases seperating with a lot of money. I may be an ex-windoze user but I really do not want a windoze wannabee. I want a small reliable, easily accesible, open sourced and relativley easy to get to understand distro of linux. (By this I mean realtiveley easy to a newbie who does code in assembler, has used Unix in the dim and distant past and who really does not like office suites and rubic cubes, it is like the difference between Fortran and Cobol. Mathematicians didnt get on with Cobol, I dont get on with "business oreintated" doze-like distros)

    Sorry about this I am letting off steam

    It gets to me when there was the doze 3.11 front end which had all the GUIs and was able to include lots of networking stuff. had a footprint of 10 Mb. And you get some Linux distros proudly proclaiming to be "minimalist" and yet "all functioning" at sizes in excess of 50 mb?

    And Doze 3.11 was at best spaghetti coded nonsense. But it strikes me as odd that such a badly written front end sitting on DOS. Dos, Which is not all that much different from the linux kernel in size. And yet the tightly coded carefully written front ends for the linux kernal end up at 50mb minimal.

    Even those that pride themselves still talk on average 350mb? I want to store the entire Protein Data bank (about 20 gigabytes uncompressed) on a partition and devlop linux ported software to acess it. I need another 10 gig of space to store all the DNA data I will be using. I have got to work at a lower level. I have to do this with a distro that does not exceed 100 mb. 5 gigabytes of my drive space taken up by any operating system is just not good enough. The Doze only takes up 2 gb and that is a cause of unending greif. If you could tell me, of a linux distro, that is small, complete enough to install things like the GTK libraries and Lazarus. And is OK about having an assembler running on it.
    This is really all I need.

    Sorry for ranting.

    I had to say it. I know I have perhaps unrealistic needs
    but I know what I really want to avoid. It is either Linux or Freedos with some minimal front end. It is not so much a question of being up to date, more question of being able to run an efficient system upon whic runs software that wont require extensive re-coding in say 5 years time due to specification changes on the platform or OS. I do have very specific needs. And I do need help.


    All the best

    Thanks for being patient


  11. #10
    It would be a bit of work (but hey who doesn't mind that? ) but you could check out Linux From Scratch (.org). It is what the name says, I think you start off with a 5 mb base, then you just build up your distro after the things you need. No need for having QT installed, if you're just going to work with GTK etc..

    The Debian base system is about 70 mb, then you can basicly just apt-get whatever you'd like. Same as above.

    I have a bad feeling, writing such an small reply to your gigantic post..

    Oh well, Good luck

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