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#1 2017-03-24 10:28:29

LuX
Member
From: France
Registered: 2010-06-14
Posts: 76

Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Hello!

I'm using Arch Linux for years on all my laptops, which are relatively old, and I'm quite happy with it. Unfortunately it seems that the support for i686 architectures is going to disappear. So I guess I'll have to move to other distros, sadly enough.

Upon your opinion, what is now the best alternative to Arch whith long-term support for i686 architecture?

Maybe I shouldn't ask this on that forum, but I have seen old posts in this topic with similar questions (but different needs). My main needs are, in order of decreasing importance :

1) fast boot (25-35 seconds with Arch is OK, much more with others is not) ;
2) full-featured and easy-to-use package management (pacman is just perfect for me) ;
3) well documented wiki ;
4) KISS philosophy ;
5) large community (hence durability).

I rarely used AUR, and do not necessarily need frequent updates. On the other hand I like the "rolling distro" system, but this is not mandatory as it restricts the choice quite a lot. What I have seen until now:

- Frugalware is dropping of i686 support too.
- Slackware, Crux, Gentoo are too complicated for me.
- Ubuntu is not KISS at all, and boots up far too slowly.
- Debian might fit the goal, except that I don't like the idea of huge updates every two years. Appart of this I can't get a clear opinion on it: isn't it too complicated?

Thank you for sharing your opinions.

LuX

PS : If possible, I'd like to be able to start with a minimal system and extend it (easily) just to fit my needs and nothing more.

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#2 2017-03-24 11:04:05

phw
Member
Registered: 2013-05-27
Posts: 318

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

I use Debian (stable) on an old Netbook of mine. I still like Debian and I don't think it is more difficult to maintain and install then Arch (probably easier to install even, depending on how you see it), but it also means running with older software. For me the reason to use Debian stable was mainly that I don't use the netbook so often and I could not do updates frequently, so the more conservative nature of Debians update policy fits me well for that device.

What about Fedora? IMHO also a very good choice as a distro with , but I don't know about their state of and plans for i686 support.

Last edited by phw (2017-03-24 13:08:06)

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#3 2017-03-24 12:09:57

brebs
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Registered: 2007-04-03
Posts: 3,742

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

LuX wrote:

except that I don't like the idea of huge updates every two years

How long are you expecting to continue to use i686 for? Presumably, you have a plan for getting off widely-obsoleted tech?

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#4 2017-03-24 13:05:38

2ManyDogs
Forum Moderator
Registered: 2012-01-15
Posts: 3,654

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

LuX wrote:

- Debian might fit the goal, except that I don't like the idea of huge updates every two years. Appart of this I can't get a clear opinion on it: isn't it too complicated?

Upgrading a Debian stable machine from one version to the next is not at all complicated. You also don't need to do it when a new stable version is released. Stable usually goes "oldstable" and is supported as LTS for several years after. For example, even though Jessie is the current stable release, I am still using Wheezy on several machines, and plan to continue to use it as long as it is supported (May 2018). If you install Jessie now, you can use it until May 2020. Stretch will be supported until 2022. This works for me because I don't need the latest versions of anything on the machines where I use Debian.

You can do a Debian "netinstall" and install only the base system and build it up from there. I never install their default desktop.

https://wiki.debian.org/LTS

Last edited by 2ManyDogs (2017-03-24 13:08:17)

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#5 2017-03-24 13:46:35

jsteel
Trusted User (TU)
From: England
Registered: 2008-03-18
Posts: 119

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Hopefully http://archlinux32.org will be ready before it is dropped officially.


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#6 2017-03-24 14:39:58

ewaller
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From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 17,843

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

My choice would be Gentoo.


Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature -- Michael Faraday
Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine. -- Alan Turing
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#7 2017-03-24 15:33:34

Alad
Wiki Admin/IRC Op/TU
From: Bagelstan
Registered: 2014-05-04
Posts: 2,196
Website

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

I guess conceptually Void is the closest. You'll be on your own to handle any issues that arise, but that may improve as it gets more users. Alpine also supports i686 and uses APKBUILD (like PKGBUILD but in sh instead of bash). Both Alpine and Void use musl libc by default which may be problematic for some applications, but Void additionally supports glibc. Both also split packages to an almost fanatical degree, much like Debian does.

You could also look at FreeBSD or NetBSD, though their ports system is anything but straightforward.

What about Fedora? IMHO also a very good choice as a distro with , but I don't know about their state of and plans for i686 support.

https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Architectures

However, CentOS 7 should support i686 until 2024. Downside is the RPM treasure hunt.

P.S. If you're going with Debian, you'll soon find out their wiki is mostly a waste of time. The Debian Administrator Handbook is however decent, once you get past the coolaid in the first chapters.

https://debian-handbook.info/browse/stable/

Last edited by Alad (2017-03-24 15:48:19)


Mods are just community members who have the occasionally necessary option to move threads around and edit posts. -- Trilby
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#8 2017-03-24 15:55:46

c00ter
Member
From: Alaskan in Washington State
Registered: 2014-08-28
Posts: 290

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

I can agree with @Alad that conceptually Void comes closest, but it is a rather young distribution with a young community that is, however, growing. There are a number of current and former Arch users present in the Void community, I have noted. Void's package manager is simple, and similar to Pacman.

But if we speak of Debian, there is also Debian Testing (the next Stable), and it is nearly on par with Arch as far as updated packages. And you also have the ability to pull in newer packages from trusted sources. I ran Debian Testing for several years and had no more hiccups than occur in Arch. APT is a good package manager, but not as good as Pacman IMHO.

Be open-minded and you will find a suitable replacement. I have toyed with Anti-X on my wife's 2009 i686 Acer Aspire One Netbook, which has only 1 GB RAM and an Atom 1.6 GHz CPU/GPU. I wouldn't recommend Anti-X as a server environment, but for desktop use it flies like the proverbial bat. The Netbook is presently using Arch+Xfce, but runs Chrome & Netflix efficiently enough to please my wife, which is better than not.

Regards

EDIT: Concerning Void, my buddy & Arch-mentor, @mandog, says that Void reminds him of Arch in the early days.

Last edited by c00ter (2017-03-24 16:00:18)


UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn

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#9 2017-03-24 16:26:00

LuX
Member
From: France
Registered: 2010-06-14
Posts: 76

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Thank you very much for your answers.

@brebs: I'm not sure to understand your post (there are too many possible translations  for "to get off"). I don't plan to buy new material. For economical as well as ecological reasons, I try to resist to planned obsolescence by making old computers working as well as possible for the longest possible time. A lightweight and fast distro like Arch is was good for that (the best I found until now, regarding my other needs too).

@jsteel: Do you mean that this "community maintained repos" will provide exactly the same support for 32-bits computers as Arch did until now? If so... well, let's wait and see.

Apparently Debian (Testing) seems to emerge as the best alternative for most of my needs. But what about fast booting?

Of course "fast" is relative to my old material: I don't expect a reasonably user-friendly distro to boot faster than Arch. But almost as fast would be nice. Shouldn't I turn myself to mini-linux distro, like Slitaz for example? Or does Debian boot up as fast as any other (provided the install keeps it simple, of course)?

EDIT: Void seems quite promising too. And it boots quickly. I'm tempted. smile

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#10 2017-03-24 16:31:32

nbd
Member
Registered: 2014-08-04
Posts: 373

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Actually, Slackware is a way much more easier to use than Arch, if installed and used as is officially recommended. (Full installation, official package management helpers, etc.) Of course you need to read first several moderately sized manuals.

My recommendation is Slackware (I myself have it installed on one machine).

EDIT: Of course you need not to perform full installation (~10 Gb), and can do a very minimal installation with only components you need (as I did), but in this case you'll need to read some additional related info. All in all, you can get a minimal working Slackware installation and know how to work with it in 2-3-4 days (depending on how much time per day you invest in it).

Last edited by nbd (2017-03-24 16:40:57)


bing different

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#11 2017-03-24 16:56:46

2ManyDogs
Forum Moderator
Registered: 2012-01-15
Posts: 3,654

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

The Debian Testing branch can actually have more problems that the unstable (sid) branch. Bugs can hang around in testing until the software gets upgraded in sid and then migrates to Testing. Testing is designed for just what its name implies -- testing the next stable version. If you want to use Debian but need newer software than is in Stable, use sid. Don't let the "unstable" keep you away from sid; I have run sid on several boxes and its quite stable enough for everyday use. The term "unstable" means "can change a lot and change quickly" -- not "breaks often".

Debian now uses systemd, and it boots quickly if you don't install a lot of crap.

Last edited by 2ManyDogs (2017-03-24 17:00:40)

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#12 2017-03-24 18:15:00

Alad
Wiki Admin/IRC Op/TU
From: Bagelstan
Registered: 2014-05-04
Posts: 2,196
Website

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

With systemd-based distros, you'll have a higher chance of a slow shutdown than a slow boot due to various bugs. Either way, unless you install said crap, boot times are overestimated in my experience - even in Slackware where every possible command that might be related to the boot process is run in sequence.

All in all, you can get a minimal working Slackware installation and know how to work with it in 2-3-4 days (depending on how much time per day you invest in it).

The issue with that is that Slackbuilds.org has an implicit assumption on a full Slackware installation, and they do little to change that. That's where distros like Salix (which take some inspiration from PKGBUILD) fall flat. A build system without privilege separation or other basic safeguards is also not for everyone.

APT is a good package manager, but not as good as Pacman IMHO.

Probably the main difference is the vast complexity of the .deb format. You could write a dissertation on how to create a debian package. That said, the distribution has a large amount of packages in their repositories so you may not have the need to create a package of your own.

Last edited by Alad (2017-03-24 18:21:08)


Mods are just community members who have the occasionally necessary option to move threads around and edit posts. -- Trilby
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#13 2017-03-27 05:28:32

eliotime3000
Member
From: Lima, Peru
Registered: 2017-03-03
Posts: 5
Website

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

@Alad: If you have issues with Slackbuilds, and the only one choice that you have is Slacky.eu repos.

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#14 2017-03-27 07:36:52

TheChickenMan
Member
From: United States
Registered: 2015-07-25
Posts: 354

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

I'm in this boat too, with a couple of old core duos and intel atoms hanging around. They're all turning ten this year though and I'm considering the option of just putting them out to pasture in the fall. If I'm going to have to install a new OS on "something" anyway, then it might as well be on some new hardware too.

I did put some thought into this though, for if I do end up keeping them. The choice really comes down to Debian and Gentoo I think. I like the configuration of Gentoo better but I'm not sure I want to invest that kind of time for old machines that are really only around as backups anyway. I have also found that they now only barely run well with Arch and I'm not too confident in their ability to compile large software sets. I don't really like APT and find Debian's packaging to be a bit "messy" sometimes but it's probably the best bet now for 32 bit support moving forward.


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#15 2017-03-27 13:00:52

jonno2002
Member
Registered: 2016-11-21
Posts: 187

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

+1 for debian netinstall, only other distro id consider if i couldnt use arch, i have an old celeron 433 webserver thats been running debian for over 10 years and also a 32bit debian VM running on one of my arch boxes so i can run an old cs 1.5 server which wont run on a 64bit OS. really is a shame that arch is dropping i686, just cause somthing is old doesnt mean its obsolete

Last edited by jonno2002 (2017-03-27 13:01:43)

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#16 2017-03-27 13:30:56

Trilby
Inspector Parrot
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 25,371

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

jonno2002 wrote:

really is a shame that arch is dropping i686, just cause somthing is old doesnt mean its obsolete

This is not at all the thought process that went into dropping i686.  Arch devs are volunteers who maintain what they use and share the products of their work with others freely.  Most of them even maintain stuff they don't use - just because they are that generous.  Thinking they should be doubly so generous and maintain an entire architecture they don't use is just silly.

i686 isn't being dropped out of some spiteful reaction to anything not-brand-new; it is being dropped for simple practical reasons because no one stepped up to maintain it.  Did you step up?  If not, don't complain.

Looking for alternatives is a welcome discussion of topic here.  But griping that people who give you free stuff don't give you enough free stuff isn't welcome.

EDIT: in hindsight I might have overinterpretted the comment I was responding to.  It is perfectly reasonable to morn the loss of something that was useful to you.  But the corrections on the reasons are still valid: i686 wasn't dropped just because it was old (though it's age certainly contributes to there being few people using it who can step up to maintain it ... which is the actual reason).


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#17 2017-03-27 13:58:00

ghus
Banned
Registered: 2016-11-14
Posts: 420

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Can this OS be added at this thread ?
Tinycore
http://wiki.tinycorelinux.net/

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#18 2017-03-27 18:51:25

dmerej
Member
From: Paris
Registered: 2016-04-09
Posts: 97
Website

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Or maybe you could just use join the archlinux32 project ?


Responsible Coder, Python Fan, Rust enthusiast

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#19 2017-03-27 18:55:50

Texbrew
Member
From: The Lone Star State
Registered: 2016-02-09
Posts: 567

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Debian 7 "Wheezy" and Debian 8 "Jessie" are my other go-to distros. I have the 32 bit "Wheezy" build on one old PC - with Arch 32 bit on a second hard hard drive. I also have the 32 bit "Jessie" build in a VM on another PC which does not support hardware virtualization (the PC's host OS is 64 bit, but can't run 64 bit VM's). All of my Debian systems have the default  Gnome desktop and they are relatively slow to boot compared to Arch, undoubtedly due to all the software "bloat". I cannot speak about Debian systems built up from a basic net install, but I think it's worth looking into.

I share your desire to keep your 32 bit machine running as long as it lasts. When Arch 32 support ends in May, I will try installing a lean version of Debian on my old machine.

There is no wiki like the Arch wiki. Many users of other linux OS'es rely on it. We can always use it to debug our systems as long as we remember a lot of stuff is systemd specific, and not to ask questions about other OS'es in the Arch forums.

I was too slow with this post, I just now saw dmerej's post about the archlinux32 project. I am bookmarking that one.

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#20 2017-03-28 20:39:43

LuX
Member
From: France
Registered: 2010-06-14
Posts: 76

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Hi!

@ghus: tinycore aims at providing a linux system loaded entirely in RAM. It seems interesting (although I hardly see the difference with Slitaz, for example) but different from the classically installed distro that I'm looking for.

@dmerej: Archlinux32 seems an ideal solution, if it works like a continuation of Arch for 32-bits architecture. At the moment I haven't understood how it will work, but apparently the project is just beginning. I (and other people) will undoubtly follow it.

@everybody: Thanks again for sharing your experience. (And thanks to the developper of Arch, who all make a great job.)

Regards,
LuX

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#21 2017-03-29 04:29:14

Texbrew
Member
From: The Lone Star State
Registered: 2016-02-09
Posts: 567

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

Thank you, LuX for opening this thread. I learned about the Archlinux32 Project because of your thread. I intend to follow its development.

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#22 2017-03-29 17:55:57

MadmanRB
Member
From: Like I will tell you
Registered: 2014-08-07
Posts: 80

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

I personally think its a shame that arch is killing 32bit support.
Especially for something that is "rolling" and thus is supposed to keep on getting updates.
I say debian is a good place to go for now until that drops 32bit support.
Sure its not KISS but at the same time it works.
Otherwise i say gentoo is good too but man it can take a while to compile packages.
Slackware is good too.
For those who like to keep thie old hardware going for as long as possible I dont blame you as sure you can get 64bit computers for cheap now why throw away what works?


A keen mind goes a long way...

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#23 2017-03-29 18:52:13

olegabrielz
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2015-12-23
Posts: 255

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

MadmanRB wrote:

... Especially for something that is "rolling" and thus is supposed to keep on getting updates. ...

I don't follow you on that logic. A rolling release does not imply that it would support old hardware. In my mind a rolling release would behave quite opposite (due to its rolling nature): New features and hardware support is being added, while old stuff is being dropped. And as mentioned earlier in this thread, the reason for this is quite obvious:

Trilby wrote:

... i686 wasn't dropped just because it was old (though it's age certainly contributes to there being few people using it who can step up to maintain it ... which is the actual reason).


Be aware of my Newbie Powers

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#24 2017-03-29 19:05:06

Texbrew
Member
From: The Lone Star State
Registered: 2016-02-09
Posts: 567

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

@olegabrielz, of course you & Trilby are right - I agree it's unreasonable to expect volunteers to maintain anything they are no longer interested in, for whatever reasons. It's just that some of us don't want to say goodbye to even our ancient toys (sigh). Many arch users are capable of maintaining their 32 bit systems, many of us are not. We depend on the kindness of strangers.

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#25 2017-03-29 19:43:23

olegabrielz
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2015-12-23
Posts: 255

Re: Archlinux alternatives with long-term i686 support

@Texbrew: I'm a newbie for life, so I absolutely adore and respect those who make my tech-toys purr as kittens. These terminal Gods kindly share their stuff for us to play with. This is pretty awesome. Think about how cynical the business model related to computing technology usually is.

I absolutely understand the frustration over the dropping of i686 support. Before I came to Arch I was using CrunchBang (RIP). I remember how it felt when it got dropped. But, life goes on. Hopefully some projects (like archlinux32.org) will give you guys what you crave also in the future.


Be aware of my Newbie Powers

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