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First off, the computer specs:

  • Pentium 4 2.4 GHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Asus Broadcom 440 network adapter
  • x86 based PC

You may need more information, I don't know.

I would like to erase Windows XP and put a Linux OS on it. Because Centos is used by professional hosters, this is my first choice for the moment. Only want the minimum, so no graphical interfaces; it just needs to run nginx, Apache, and maybe nodeJS.

The first problem I ran into: I cannot boot from usb and I only have 700 MB CDs. Can you burn a bootable image on multiple CDs?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

You could start off the minimal cd or netinstall (which would handily be burnable on a standard cd) and install the packages you need online. This way, you'd only need one cd. You cannot split a DVD into multiple cds

A pure cli install shouldn't need very many resources. In this case I'd recommend the 32 bit version over the 64 bit version

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why, if your system is capable of 64 bit? – Richard Oct 23 '13 at 0:55
It's a pentium 4 - last I recall, that would be "not remotely capable of 64 bit." I guess there might be a very few exceptions. – Ecnerwal Oct 23 '13 at 1:03
system info says: on x86 based pc, but the the systemmap says "C:\\WINDOWS\system32". Which one should I be looking at? oh, it also says: processor: x86 family 15 model 2 stepping 7 GenuineIntel ~1804 MHz – Richard Oct 23 '13 at 1:06
32 bit uses less resources and you don't have enough ram that 64 bit is a must. You'll get more out of your aging hardware. – Journeyman Geek Oct 23 '13 at 1:21

What you should be rather looking for is a "light-weight" desktop environment. Something modern yet consumes about the same resources as Windows XP does so that it will also run well on that particular machine.

Xfce and LXDE and OpenBox are three good candidates for machines that don't have a lot of horsepower to work with.

On one of my older machines, an Athlon 64 3500+ single core running at 2.2Ghz I have Arch Linux with Xfce and it works like a champ, couldn't ask for more. Arch Linux is different in that it is exactly what you make it and I chose to make it Xfce. That does require an intermediate level of Linux experience however so if you are a newbie you would probably be better served with something like Xubuntu which is Ubuntu but instead of coming with Unity comes with Xfce.

I like Xfce because I have experience with it, check out LXDE and OpenBox too - see if you can Google around for some live-cd's of those if you want to experiment. The major idea to keep in mind however is that there are always options. If you need something even lighter than the above three you could even go with Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux. There will always be something that will work.

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A clarification: You have your "distribution" which would be "CentOS" but then in that you have your desktop environment that you use which could be "Xfce," "LXDE," or "OpenBox." You choose your distribution first and then you choose what desktop environment to run in that distribution. – headkase Oct 23 '13 at 0:41
"Only want the minimum, so no graphical interfaces, that can run nginx, apache, maybe Nodejs" He dosen't want a gui, and what he really wants to know is "can I split up the install DVD into multiple cds?" I suspect – Journeyman Geek Oct 23 '13 at 0:48
that is good advice, had to think about that, what your saying is that Archlinux is on the same level as Centos, but even if I do want to install that, I still need some kind of desktop environment. I only want to use it as a server for development,commandline is ok for me, this is problably I don't understand yet. – Richard Oct 23 '13 at 0:53
yes, I do work normally on my mac, I just wanted to setup a server for experimentation/development to see what's possible – Richard Oct 23 '13 at 0:57
@Richard: Arch Linux's default installation is a command prompt with no GUI in sight. You really do make it what you want it to be and it is a "rolling release" distribution which means it always has the latest package versions available for software. Also, as others have said: with 512MB of RAM install the 32-bit version. – headkase Oct 23 '13 at 1:27

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