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  1. #1

    Wireless Network with Live CD?

    I am somewhat of a Linux newbie, and I have two questions - for now - (one of which does not pertain to wireless networking). First, some background information:

    My girlfriend and I have two computers. The main one is a Windows machine (you can disintegrate me later) with cable internet. The other one (which is probably pushing 10 years old) used to be a Windows machine until it decided not to detect the hard disks anymore (problem with an on board controller, I suspect). I have been using Linspire Live to use the computer for minimal tasks until I can get a new motherboard or buy or build a new computer. Before switching from DSL to Cable, I was able to access the internet using Linspire through the ethernet card (though, both computers could not be online simultaneously). Before that, when it was still a Windows machine, I was able to use a wireless PCI card. Unfortunately, Linspire does not detect the wireless card.

    Question # 1: Is there a live Linux distribution that will run on an older machine and might be able to detect and utilize my wireless card? I have tried to run my Knoppix CD, but it comes up with an "out of range" message and will not load.

    Question # 2: My reading assignments for school require me to be able to open and view PDF documents. Unfortunately, the older version of OpenOffice on the Linspire CD will not properly, if at all, open many of the newer PDF documents. So my question is this: Is there a live distro with a newer version of OpenOffice (preferably the same one that might detect the wireless card) that can open newer PDF files? Keep in mind, this is an older machine.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Boston, MA
    Linspire is discontinued and very old, the last release was 2007, so I would definitely look into something current and maintained.

    As for what will run, well, that depends on the machines specs, especially RAM for a live CD.

    The wireless depends on the chipset of the card. Most cards that do not work out of the box need non-free firmware, which is usually a trivial task to get. However, for a live CD, you would either need to remaster the CD to include the firmware, or use something that supports "persistence" so your firmware is available each time you boot up.

    You should be able to get info on the specific chipset of the card from a linux distro as follows
    lspci -vnn | grep -a4 -i net
    If it gives a command not found for lspci, enter in the terminal
    which lspci
    This will output a path, such as
    Then use the full path in the command above
    /usr/sbin/lspci -vnn | -a4 -i net
    Post that info here for help.

    Live CDs I would try for older hardware are
    Puppy Linux
    Mint Fluxbox
    Slitaz (slightly more advanced)

    OpenOffice is a hefty program no matter how you look at it. It's also a bit of overkill for pdfs, I would think. There are a number of pdf viewers out there that are much lighter. The most basic and lightest is probably mupdf, but that is not widely available in distros. I would probably recommend going with epdfview, which is generally available. Most distros, including Puppy and Mint will have pdf software installed by default. Not sure if slitaz does, being so minimal.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the info! I will try this out as soon as I can and get back to you with my findings. Winter break is coming up soon so I should have a little spare time on my hands.

    Thanks again,

  4. $spacer_open

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