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I have an old 486 laptop, not sure of the exact speed, but most likely less than 25mHz. Currently running Windows 3.1. I want to put linux on it so ...
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  1. #1
    QMD
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    486 Laptop


    I have an old 486 laptop, not sure of the exact speed, but most likely less than 25mHz. Currently running Windows 3.1. I want to put linux on it so I can use the internet (just for email, basic ping tests, etc), and it has one PCMCIA port. What distribution would work best for this? Also, there is no CD rom drive, so I have to install via floppy disks.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Linux Guru coopstah13's Avatar
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    the more important spec is the memory, how much is in this old thing? there are some distros that will run in like 16m, but I think that you would want 32m to be more comfortable, and you would need a hefty amount of swap, which would require a disk probably at least 300mb

  3. #3
    oz
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    You can find some mini Linux distros for floppy only, here:

    Mini Linux - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Hopefully one or more of them will work for you, or you can use some other installation method to install a different distro.

    Good luck with it!
    oz

  4. #4
    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    I don't want to discourage you. But I have a small NOTEBOOK (yeah thats the brand name) with about the same specs. It has 16mb of EDO ram and runs Windows 95. I keep it as a curio in case it ever becomes worth something. I have installed many small Linuxes. But this one I aint touching.

    Tiny Core which is one of the smallest full featured 2.6 kernel distros require

    An absolute minimum of RAM is 48mb. TC won't boot with anything less, no matter how many terabytes of swap you have.
    Microcore runs with 36mb of ram.
    The minimum cpu is i486DX (486 with a math processor).
    If you want to try a floppy Distro. Then

    MuLinux Home Site: muLinux version 14r0

    or

    about | blueflops (though they say it is for i386 processor)

    and finally

    Small and Floppy-based Linux distributions - ram

    Somebodys else adventures

    If you can find and install atr least 128mb of ram into that old .i486
    And bump up the hardrive to lets say 4 gig via a PCMCIA CF Adapter Cardbus where the CF Card is 4gig.
    Lets see you have no USB port.
    You have no ethernet port except for maybe a 16bit PCMCIA Network Adapter card.
    You could then try a poor mans install of Slackware 13 i486 or Tinycore
    Last edited by rokytnji; 05-24-2010 at 09:00 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by QMD View Post
    I want to put linux on it so I can use the internet (just for email, basic ping tests, etc)
    Why don't you do that from DOS? That would be a lot easier...
    If you want a more UNIX-like GUI for DOS, you can install DESQview/X. Then you can run both DOS and Windows programs in an X window and if you have a Linux computer you can display your Linux programs on the 486 and vice versa.
    I have DR-DOS and DESQview/X installed on my 486 and it's working very well. I also installed Monkey Linux, but it's pretty much useless.
    So, my advice is to keep DOS and Windows and install DESQview/X if you want a multitasking, graphical environment that works with Linux over the network. You might also want to try the Arachne web browser.

  6. #6
    QMD
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    Specs

    It appears to have 8mb of ram....and a 200mb hard drive..
    486DX2, 40mHz

    As for not using DOS, I do not know how to use the internet with DOS/Windows 3.1

  7. #7
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    Honestly, it looks like the RAM is a factor...
    But even more so, the HDD size.
    If you could find a way to get a slightly larger drive, then Minix might be an option.
    Menuet might be an option for you.
    Jay

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  8. #8
    Linux Newbie theNbomr's Avatar
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    I once used a floppy based version of Coyote Linux on a host such as yours. It ran as a working firewall for a couple of years. I'm not sure whether that distro in still available. If you can't get it from the distribution website by asking nicely, I may be able to scrounge up an image from the archives.
    I don't think you will be able to run any kernel newer than 2.2 on a host of that small memory, Cetainly no GUI.
    --- rod.
    Stuff happens. Then stays happened.

  9. #9
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Hmmm - a nice doorstop... I have an old 486 (24mb ram) desktop that I still use for some old QNX 4 software. I don't think I'd try to run any current version of Linux on it, except possibly in text mode only. I also have an old P2 Dell XPS-R450 (450MHz P2 Pentium) w/ 384MB ram which I do run Linux on quite nicely.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  10. #10
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    I know that the project is listed as dormant...
    But perhaps a look at Damn Small?
    I think it might meet your sys requirements: Damn Small Linux - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jay

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