Linux has Largely Abandoned Still-Useful Near-Vintage Computers
Dell Inspiron 5100 I am sure many experienced Linux users who love old hardware will not be surprised to hear that I have been unable to find an up-to-date distribution of Linux that runs well on my near-vintage, nineteen-year-old Dell Inspiron 5100 with 256 MB of RAM. This is the computer I use specifically for testing software designed for old computers.
@TauAs I've got mixed feelings about this. I like that old hardware is supported, but where do the maintainers draw the line? Pentium? 486? 386? 286?
Also, there is a contradiction in wanting software to run on computers with few resources, and also wanting the software to be lean enough to run on that hardware. Do they not update for new hardware, and only maintain the old? Or do they reduce functionality to support both new and (all?) old hardware. Maybe they should fork?
@murph @TauAs I don't think it's a kernel issue for the most part. I can compile a kernel without PAE and run it on my Pentium II machines. The issue becomes RAM and HDD space. Guix for instance uses more of both.
There are certainly kernel modules that you can disable (see OpenWRT's guide for old routers) but the problem seems to be that a lot of userspace software is written with the expectation of gigabytes of RAM and near infinite storage.