The Fast-Food Syndrome: The Linux Platform is Getting Fat.
Uh ... no. Okay, here's the deal. There are some vital differences about what "Linux" is being called these days. Linux is not an Operating System or a Distribution. It is a kernel. Here's a broken down comparison of what Linux is, in car terms.
Linux is the engine. Just a raw engine, that can be built for whatever you need: car, truck, boat, plane, giant 50' tall golem of destruction, whatever. You just tailor the engine for what you need. But by itself, Linux is pretty useless. You need an Operating System. That would be the user interaction with the kernel (engine). A basic OS would probably have a shell, some drivers, and a few utilities. Just enough to make the kernel usable by a human being. In a car, this would be a chassis, gas tank, gas, wheels, pedals, and steering wheel. A GUI is something that provides a way to wrap all this up in a nice package with seats, a body, windows, the radio, and so on. A distribution offers a total package, including installers, and even more utilities. Look, here's a handy chart:
|Operating System||Shell, basic I/O drivers, utilities||Windows||Gas tank, steering wheel, pedals, wheels, chassis|
|GUI||KDE, Gnome, Fluxbox, twm, Icewm||Explorer.exe||Body, radio, seats, trunk, windshield|
|Distribution||Red Hat, Slackware, Gentoo, Debian, Mandrake||Microsoft||Ford, Toyota, GMC, Honda, VW|
Linux is not getting fat, the distros are. Big difference. You can run Linux on a 16mhz 386 w/8mb RAM and a 500mb hard drive with no problem (some have managed even lower, but i386 is the minimum CPU due to threading issues), but running KDE on such a system would be a problem. Probably any GUI, because I have used twm on a 100mhz 486 and even that's a little slow. You would just use different vttys on an ancient machine, but if all you need is a light home router and firewall of some kind, that's fine. They also have embedded Linux on a chip! That's pretty light.
I wish some of these people who write these reviews got the basic facts straight.