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AOSC OS/Retro: A Linux Distro for 486 & PPC Macs
... as well as ARM powered HP Jornadas and other "retro" hardware.
Getting modern Linux running on older (aka “Retro”) hardware can often be a bit of a challenge.
Most Linux distributions have long since abandoned any support for most hardware from the 1990s (and even the early 2000s). But not “AOSC OS/Retro”.
“AOSC OS/Retro” is variant on AOSC — a distribution which has been around, in one form or another, for the last decade… but which has flown mostly under the radar. (It isn’t listed on DistroWatch.com and has had surprisingly little coverage from the Linux press.)
AOSC, itself, is an interesting Linux distribution. The team behind it describes it as such:
AOSC OS is designed around the following principles:
Simplified: no package should be split unless necessary.
Localised: equal functionality across different languages.
Permissive: freedom to choose free or proprietary software.
Sustainable: long-term support for aging hardware.
Refined: all but minor improvements.
The pros and cons of AOSC are… many. On both counts.
For example: AOSC has a focus on being easy to use, and working with very little tinkering, out of the box. On the flip-side, AOSC does not contain a full installer… requiring a bit of manual work to get installed. A dichotomy with is both peculiar… and, yet, makes a great deal of sense from the point of view of what they are trying to accomplish.
But what really caught my eye was the “Retro” variant of AOSC. It’s list of supported hardware is truly spectacular.
A modern Linux distribution that supports G3 iBooks? 486 laptops? ARMv4 powered Palmtops like the HP Jornada (the kind that originally shipped with Windows CE)? ASUS EeePC netbooks?
Yes, please! Sign me up!
Now, the speed isn’t going to blow anyone away on these machines. We’re talking about running 2022 versions of some software… on 30 year old hardware. Even though these older machines are more than capable of running the software they shipped with… newer software packages tend to assume far beefier specs (and far greater amounts of RAM).
Just the same, this is truly impressive. And installing this on an old palmtop or PPC Mac seems like a terribly fun way to spend a weekend.
You can find images for 486, ARMv4, PPC G3, and many other architectures on the AOSC release page.
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