(If you haven’t done so, you may read this series from DAY ONE here.)

Today we hit up our lightest of lightweight distros. It fits in 20MB less than Damn Small Linux, when installed uses 65MB of RAM, and boots in less than ten seconds (depending on hardware).

Yes. Today we try out Slitaz Cooking.

Quintin

Ooh. Something slightly exotic.

Slitaz is built into a 30MB ISO file. It is reallyreally tiny, and I had some reservations as to its possible useability.

Surely nothing good or useful can fit in such a tiny space?

Let me deal with what I did not expect to be there.

  • A Package Manager. I fully expected to have to compile everything I needed from source. There is a package manager.
  • User Friendly Interface. I expected a minimal interface (it is) with little in the way of configuration tools (it has configuration tools.)
  • Limited Driver Support. Driver support is rather adequate.
  • An installer. In fact there is one, it went better than with DreamLinux, and there is a USB installer as well.

Basically, as Elzje commented while looking over my shoulder – “You are pleasantly surprised, huh?”

I am.

Sure it is not as full featured as our other distro’s here, but 30MEGS! Wow, this is a lot of bang for your buck…

The Package manager is basic, but functional. The repository list is empty until you load it from the internet – understandable if you take the size of the OS into account.

One thing I notice is that while the OS is small and lightweight, it takes a BIG performance hit when you have multiple programs open – it seems that it handles load less elegantly than other, larger, distros. Not sure why, but that is my experience at the moment.

The tools Slitaz includes are aimed at functional uses such as network testing as opposed to Office work. If you want to use this for a home PC some configuration might be needed. It includes a SQLite SQL engine, but no media player, for instance.

And there is a Twitter microblogging client as well. Go figure.

Looking through the menu the software selection is a bit random – I am tempted to let Slitaz slide for that, again no mail client…

Let me make this comment and apply it retroactively through this series – As a standard install Slitaz seems less useful than the others. Like all the others used by us in this series it can be customized to do almost anything you want.

You CAN install your mail client if you want – this was noted in the comments on the Dreamlinux day, and you CAN have your office package if you want. With Slitaz it might just take a little more work than with some of the others.

Elzje

It is black and yellow. And it has spiders. I don’t like spiders. First impressions are important. We don’t want to give Grandma a heart attack.

On the plus side it is very familiar, it looks like it uses the same environment that Ubuntu does, and I feel at home.

The Midory browser feels a lot like Firefox – It doesn’t have Flash, but that is just more for Quintin to figure out. (Flashplugin installer is available in the package manager – Q)

No word processor or any other office tools, definitely a problem for me.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is it reasonably quick?
    Yes and no. It is astonishingly lightweight – 30MB Iso and 65MB when in the desktop. With Midori and the Package manager open while installing Flash via the package installer it used 128MB. What I noticed was a slowdown while it was “thinking” or doing more than one thing at once. Not a firm statement on that, but noticeable at times.
  2. Can You Use the Internet With Ease?
    Yes. Midori is OK, and there is no mail client – to satisfy the pedants; YES YOU CAN INSTALL IT. I would have preferred to have a mail client available.
  3. Can You Edit Documents and Spreadsheets with ease?
    No. Text editor YES, Word Processor and friends – NOT INVITED. You can have it if you want it, and I guess no office suite would have fit in the installation package.
  4. How Easy is Email use?
    Like DreamLinux – no email client.
  5. Are Codecs Available for all common formats?
    Yes. Be prepared to install from source – I am not yet sure how complete the repositories are.
  6. How Hard is it to Join Networks?
    It comes with a decent enough network manager – no NM Applet here, and there is a wireless networks utility. It is a bit more complicated than some of the others featured in this series.
  7. Is it a Swap In for a higher ended distro?
    No. Slitaz is a standalone product. It can be anything you want it to be, just like almost any other distro can be customized to your whim, but you might hit it’s limitations sooner than most other distros who are based on larger offerings.

Summary

Elzje did not have a lot to say about Slitaz today. She did not spend a lot of time with it (rough day) and there is not really to say about it.

Personally I think it is a brilliant execution of the super minimal distro. Yes it is lacking in some areas, and it is possibly one of the most limited-in-growth-potential distros out there, but let me say this – like any Linux, you can make this work for you.

If I read as overly generous I probably am, if you take the limitations into account that the builders of Slitaz had to work with you will realize that I feel very impressed. It is easy to come over as unfairly favoring Slitaz when compared to our writeup of Dreamlinux yesterday. They are two different beasts though – if you compare them directly Dreamlinux will win every time. Install them both on an old P11 with 64MB of RAM and Slitaz is the hands down winner.

For our application of finding something for Grandma and Mommy and their ancient computers we still like Linux Mint LXDE the best out of the six we tested so far.

Get the version of Slitaz Cooking we used HERE. (Download page for the Cooking Version of Slitaz)

(Day Seven is UP! We take stock and prepare for the last three distros  – yes three, two more were added… guess which?)

Which Of Our Featured Lightweight Distros is Your Favourite?

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  4. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 5 – Dreamlinux
  5. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 2 Linux Mint LXDE