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Help! I am a Linux newby needing advice. For old laptops(486, P1), which distro is best, and what is the prefered way to install? I have checked several Linux forums, ...
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  1. #1
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    Loads of questions! old laptop, installing Linux distro


    Help! I am a Linux newby needing advice.
    For old laptops(486, P1), which distro is best, and what is the prefered way to install? I have checked several Linux forums, and noticed Damn Small Linux and Vector Linux are often mentioned.
    I want to do clean installs of 100% linux(no dual partitions) with GUI and an office suite or at least a word processor and some games.
    I also want to install an ISP, which free ISPs offer Linux support?
    Assuming it uses an external CD Rom, can I install DOS and driver for the CD Rom, then install from the CD, or does it have to boot into Linux to install Linux.
    Thanks,
    Tom

  2. #2
    Linux Guru AlexK's Avatar
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    Ok, I would suggest that you use Damm Small linux or Vector Linux for a machine that old. However, it is also possible to get the larger distros running if you have a large enough swap space (~500 - 700 Mb).

    In order to install most linux distros, you need to be able to boot from the cd. if your PC doesn't support booting from the cd, you can create a Linux Install disk and boot from the floppy which will load the necessary files to install linux. There is no need to install DOS.

    For a GUI, try to stay away from KDE and GNOME as they will be too resource hungry for your PC. Instead, use IceWM as the GUI.

  3. #3
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    I have used Damn Small Linux (D.S.L.) for a while now, and I am pretty happy with it. I was given an IBM thinkpad 390x laptop, 400mhz, 256mb ram, and a 4.5 Gb hard drive. Mandrake with KDE and Gnome was way too slow on a 400Mhz. So if you wanted a large distro like mandrake or redhat, I would also recommend IceWM as Alexk was saying. IceWM is a good GUI that consumes little resources.

    I used Damn Small Linux's .ISO image and booted off a cd. I got all my settings tweaked in "live" cd mode, and then installed it to the hard drive. It is only 50mb install cd, and they have made it a VERY useful distro for 50mb. It detected my laptop display, PCMCIA Card bus, PC Card modem and network adapter. Nothing to necessarily configure, other than printer issues with my USB printer, but no surprise there.

    The "MYDSL" utility lets you download software that works with D.S.L. No more hunting for RPM's or dependency issues. Base install comes with web browsers, email clients, support for ppp modem connections or DSL internet connections, spreadsheet program, a couple games, and much more than I can remember at the moment. Its a good start for laptop of your vintage. There are a couple word processors you can download via "MYDSL" if you dont like the ones that come installed. I have been using linux for a year or two, and I am not an expert by any means, but I found no real difficulty in getting Damn Small Linux installed and up and running.

    http://www.damnsmalllinux.org

    -Eric-

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