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Hi everyone, I'm a bit of a newb and have piddled with different Linux distros for over a year. I've been happily using Peppermint Ice on my desktop for a ...
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  1. #1
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    Trouble Installing Various Distros on Old Laptop


    Hi everyone,

    I'm a bit of a newb and have piddled with different Linux distros for over a year. I've been happily using Peppermint Ice on my desktop for a couple of months and have absolutely no intention of going back to Windows, which I now find borderline-unusable.

    I bought an older laptop on eBay without an OS, intending to spruce it up with Ice or another light distro. It's a Compaq Armada e500 with 128MB of RAM and 650Mhz Pentium III processor. I'm also using a Netgear WG111v2 USB adapter (works out of the box in Ice). I wound up installing XP just to get things started, as my Peppermint Ice and One boot disks didn't work. I've been at it for 3 days and here's what I've tried:

    - Peppermint Ice and One LiveCD's: Hangs at loading screen, sometimes fatal ramswap or SquashFS errors appear.

    - Peppermint Ice on USB, using PLoP Boot Manager to load....nothing but a black screen and blinking cursor.

    - Linux Mint 7 LiveCD: Hangs at loading screen for a long time, then endless loop of SquashFS errors.

    - PCLinuxOS: Hangs at loading screen.

    - DSL: LiveCD actually works and I'm impressed with this distro, but I can't get wireless to work.

    - Puppy Linux: LiveCD works, and wireless networks are detected but I can't get them to connect no matter what I do, even if I open the network.

    As you see, I'm having a hell of a time finding something that will actually install and get me connected simultaneously. I'm open to suggestions as far as any light distro that's known for having minimal connectivity issues, or alternative methods of installation. Ideally, I'd still like to use Ice, unless it's too heavy for my old machine. I really liked DSL as well.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  2. #2
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    Hello and Welcome!

    Looks like you've been really going at it here!
    You were on the right track with the lighter distros, such as Puppy or DSL. DSL is no longer maintained, though, so I wouldn't advise using that one.
    It sounds as though Puppy was doing well in the LiveCD environment, so you might want to keep that as an option. After an installation, getting wireless going would probably just be a matter of installing some missing drivers or some such.

    If, however, you are still wanting to try a few others before settling on Puppy, you could also look at: SliTaz or antiX.

    Both are well regarded, and run well on older hardware.

    Let us know what you choose to install, and wireless can be the next step.
    Jay

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    Thanks a bunch! I was actually already planning to give antiX a try as soon as I got home since I heard that Mepis tends to pick up wireless fairly easily. I'll check out the other one if that doesn't work out.

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    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    AntiX has worked well on old hardware for me, but if it doesn't for you, go to distrowatch.com and search for older computers. It will give you a list of distro's that work well on old hardware, which you can check on Google to check for minimum hardware requirements.
    Registered Linux user #526930

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    Thanks! I'm downloading some alternatives right now in case antiX doesn't work. I took the plunge and installed it even though it was running too slowly off the LiveCD to find out whether or not wireless would work.. but upon boot, I'm getting the black screen with a blinking cursor. Right now I'm trying to reinstall with GRUB to see if that helps.

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    DSL has been the only one I've been able to install and boot so far... I'm thinking I might just quit while I'm ahead. I really just plan to browse the net with this laptop, so the fact that it's no longer being maintained shouldn't be a big deal.

    Tried to install Puppy and the screen would flash like a strobe light on boot, and then give a non-system disk error. Pretty sure there's some sort of comparability or hardware issue standing in the way.

    Now, my issue is trying to get wireless to work. If I end up having to get a more compatible adapter, I'll do just that.

    Thanks for all the help thus far!

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    You might try Slitaz as suggested above if you have not. It is a 30MB download. I installed it (very easy) on an 11 year old computer with a wireless card (think it's a Trendnet?) and it detected it right away.

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    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    Again, I advise against DSL. It's been dormant for quite some time now, so even the web browsers are going to be so out of date that you'll have trouble looking at most modern webpages.

    If the other suggested distros don't work, you might take a look at Tiny Core. Getting the Wireless connection might take a few more steps, but it's about as lightweight as you can get... the whole download weighs in at 10.6 MB.
    Jay

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    Trying SliTaz now, but after the part where I input my language and keyboard settings, the screen goes black. This happened on two different CD's and also got the blinking cursor on an attempted USB install. Also tried TinyMe last night and from what I recall, a similar thing happened.

    DSL still remains the only distro that's actually installed, but since it could not even detect my wired connection, I'm a little against going with that as well.

    I'll try Tiny Core next, but I really think that nothing is going to work. I really don't want to have to install Windows.

  11. #10
    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    What you are likely running into, is hardware old enough that the drivers are not in the kernal. Most likely the video driver. See if you have an option for alternate install or use of a generic driver.
    Registered Linux user #526930

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