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I have an old Compaq Armada laptop with Celeron 697 MHz cpu & 120MB RAM. It currently runs Windows XP Pro on top of the previous Windows Millennium Edition and ...
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  1. #1
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    Question Distribution for steam driven laptop


    I have an old Compaq Armada laptop with Celeron 697 MHz cpu & 120MB RAM. It currently runs Windows XP Pro on top of the previous Windows Millennium Edition and I can't take it any more! I need a Linux and think the laptop would meet the Debian Sarge with desktop hardware requirements. However that only seems to be installable from a CD/DVD or with an active internet connection.

    Since I don't have a CD/DVD writer the last option is the only one I can do but I don't think I can install it via the internet while overwriting the current OS as I would lose the internet connection (or can I?). Is the only way to create a partition?

    I also have dual USB adapter in the PCMCIA slot which the wifi uses (no LAN adapter) and a USB stick which could maybe be used to install it but that seems to need an active internet connection as well.

    The hard disk is 9.3GB but due to the OS, I can't make enough space (5GB) for a Debian installation with desktop so could I install a minimal setup of 1GB on a partition and add the desktop later?

    Alternatively maybe there is another Linux with a GUI and a smaller footprint that would do for me.

    I need it at least to be able to run a web server like Xampp which I use now for PHP/MySQL development, a basic paint program like Paint Shop Pro and pdf reader plus some editors and Firefox.

    Thanks
    Jon

  2. #2
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    Hello and welcome!

    Does your system support booting off USB media? If so, then you could use UNetbootin to turn your USB drive into a Debian installer. I would hope that your NIC is supported so that you could connect to the Debian sources (either during the install or afterward) to install all the other packages you'd need. But if the NIC is not supported, you likely don't want that distro anyway (and in the case of Debian, maybe you just want a more recent release which would contain recently updated Linux kernel).

    You can use unetbootin to sample many Linux distros in a "try before you buy" way.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    Start with TinyCore

    @atreyu and jonno

    I had a old Compaq 1540DM when I first got into using Linux.

    Yet Another Technology Site: Compaq Armada 1540DM running Windows 95 and Linux Puppy 2.15CE

    Usb boot will take a PLOP CD boot manager install (but, PLOP won't boot off of pcmcia from my recollection). Maybe that has changed though since I last used that utility. Hmmm. Yes it can it seems.


    Can I use my USB PC-Card (PCMCIA CardBus) to boot from USB

    Yes, with the pcmcia version of the boot manager
    So you are covered there.

    Run from Floppy with a disk image

    A floppy disk image is a file that contains every sector of the floppy disk. You cannot copy the image file on a floppy disk like a common file. It's required to use a special program that writes sector per sector of the image file to the floppy disk sectors. There are many programs available to do this.

    Download the current boot manager plpbt-5.0.7.zip. Extract it to get the floppy disk image plpbt.img.

    DOS: You can use diskimg.com with diskimg -d a -w plpbt.img

    Windows: Write the disk image with the program rawwritewin to the floppy disk

    Linux: dd if=plpbt.img of=/dev/fd0

    You can configure the plpbt.bin on the floppy with plpcfgbt.


    Install to the hard disk MBR (Master Boot Record)

    You can install the boot manager to the MBR of your hard disk. When you do that, then the boot manager is the first program that is started when you boot from the hard disk. That means the boot manager is started before any operating system has been started. This installation has many benefits. Some features are only available when the boot manager is installed to the MBR. When you don't want to install the boot manager to the MBR, then you can start the boot manager in many different ways. See plpbt.bin - LiveCD and ...

    Warning Linux users: Install LILO or GRUB to the boot sector of your Linux instead of the Master Boot Record (MBR). The Plop Boot Manager is not a Linux loader and cannot start Linux without LILO, GRUB, Syslinux and similar! See Linux Boot Managers.
    Plop - Documentation / Manual / Examples - Free Boot Manager, builtin usb driver, native usb, boot different operating systems, cdrom, usb, freeware, option rom bios

    You can make a live cd of PLOP also.

    Download the current boot manager plpbt-5.0.14.zip. Extract it to get the iso file. You find the iso file in the install directory. The name of the file is plpbtin.iso

    Notice: The CD installer makes no backup for a complete uninstall. See The install program.

    Windows:

    You can use Nero, or the free program CDBurnerXP, or any other program that can burn ISO images.

    Use the option like burn ISO on CD or burn ISO Image. Then choose the boot manager ISO and burn it.

    Linux:

    cdrecord is the linux program to burn ISO images to a CD.

    Burn the ISO with cdrecord: cdrecord -v dev=<devicename> <iso image>

    Example:
    If you access your CD burner with /dev/hdd
    cdrecord -v dev=/dev/hdd plpbtin.iso
    Other light Linux distros that might work out of the box with no major configuration for you.

    SliTaz GNU/Linux (en)

    214x-Top10.0 ISO >>>>>>>325 pages in that distro thread alone. It is a good one. Bookmark it if you use it.

    http://antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

    Good luck with it. With 128MB of ram. Don't expect to get lightning speeds in a modern brpwser. Latest AntiX full iso in testing has GTK viewer that lets you
    watch youtube videos putside of your browser though to save on ram usage. If me. I would make at least a 700MB swap partition on that laptop with gparted before a install.

    If no ethernet net port on that laptop. Only dialup/phone jack Don't go for the usb ethernet adapters. I bought one and they don't work on pcmcia adapter (at least in my experience). Better to go with a pcmcia ethernet card , (you will have to unplug the usb pcmcia card though to get it to fit in).

    That is all I have to say on it.
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  4. #4
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
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    Software-wise -- all of the above could not be more thorough. However, hardware-wise, get at least 512MB (max 576, it seems) RAM. Then any of the above (but I favor antiX-486 base).
    Best wishes with your dinosaur!
    "What you think about me is none of my business"
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    Thanks for all the replies.

    Remembering all the hassle of setting up stuff like this years ago I think my best option might be to pay for a Linux distribution on a CD.

    I think my system should be just about ok for Debian Sarge according to the debian.org site which says:
    Recommended Minimum System Requirements
    Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
    No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
    With Desktop 128 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

    After all it can run Windows XP, but has some extremely annoying habits like when you select a load of files (to delete for instance) in Explorer, it tries to run them - you can imagine what that is like with only 120MB RAM if it involves several different applications!

    However I am not clear exactly what the 'desktop' installation means. Does it just mean a Windows-like desktop? Maybe I could manage with a standard installation as I would be happy to run applications from a command line interface as long as there is a decent windowing system. The last time I had anything to do with stuff like this was at college nearly 20 years ago when I used X-Windows and did a bit of programming using TCL-TK on Unix but the memories are a bit foggy!

    cheers
    Jon

  6. #6
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonno View Post
    . . .

    However I am not clear exactly what the 'desktop' installation means. Does it just mean a Windows-like desktop? Maybe I could manage with a standard installation as I would be happy to run applications from a command line interface as long as there is a decent windowing system. The last time I had anything to do with stuff like this was at college nearly 20 years ago when I used X-Windows and did a bit of programming using TCL-TK on Unix but the memories are a bit foggy!

    cheers
    Jon
    It could mean the apps, libraries, etc the dev(s) placed within the distro, the Desktop Environment included (like KDE, e17, xfce, lxde) or both. Since DE is not important, suggest choosing a distro with Windows Manager (WM) only -- like openbox, IceWM, JWM, FLWM -- after getting 512MB PC100 RAM into the laptop.

    See http://distrowatch.com/search.php

    u r ahead of the game
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  7. #7
    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    All my screenshots here are Window Managers like zenwalker is trying to explain except for the Fuduntu one which is a Desktop Enviorment.

    The Parted Magic one is Openbox. The Rebel Girl is Icewm. The Purple one is Fluxbox. I mostly run Window managers instead of Desktop Enviorments.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonno View Post
    Remembering all the hassle of setting up stuff like this years ago I think my best option might be to pay for a Linux distribution on a CD.
    If you do pay for a CD/DVD, you will have contributed to a good cause!

    However I am not clear exactly what the 'desktop' installation means. Does it just mean a Windows-like desktop? Maybe I could manage with a standard installation as I would be happy to run applications from a command line interface as long as there is a decent windowing system. n
    Considering your limited resources, you may want to do a minimal install, then just install the GUI bits you want, piece by piece. Here is a Debian 6 specific example that you can read up on to familiarize yourself with the idea. Some of the package names may be different, though.

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    Thumbs up Thanks

    I spent some time in the last 2 days trying out PLOP and UNetbootin and made a mistake or two so no final result yet. I realized that in fact there are 2 USB 1.1 slots so I can put my Belkin wireless adapter in the PCMCIA slot - my only excuse is that I bought the USB adapter when I didn't have the laptop with me and had never used the USB before

    During a USB installation using UNetbootin which started off well the screensaver kicked in and when I went back to it, it had hung and the USB stick was empty except for a Pool directory. etc etc.

    In the end I re-installed a clean copy of XP and formatted the disk using NTFS instead of FAT32 and it is running much faster now without a load of applications, so if it can run XP I am hoping that I can run various Linux distros without a desktop and still get a reasonable speed even with only 120MB RAM. At some point I would like to install CentOS with an Apache server as one of my goals is to learn the ins and outs of managing a VPS.

    One thing that might have helped I think is if I could have booted from USB using the BIOS but my Phoenix BIOS is out of date (I assume the updated BIOS would allow booting from USB), but it would cost $30 for a years subscription to some ripoff merchants to update it. I've found several mentions on the web about this and couldn't find a free BIOS update anywhere.

    Great forum and thanks to all of you for the help and no doubt I will be back again when I do a full Linux installation. There's something satisfying about watching all those lines roll by as Linux starts up

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