Trying to Try Linux


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Thread: Trying to Try Linux

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Unhappy Trying to Try Linux

    I have an old old laptop and wanted to try Linux on it. I know next to nothing about Linux and slightly more than nothing about Unix. I made a pen drive with Ubuntu on it but the laptop won't boot from a USB device. So I downloaded several distros. I tried to boot a Ubuntu CD but it won't go past the splash screen. I tried DSL and it won't boot that either. So it's still running Windows 98SE at this point. Slowly. So I tried several of the distro's under QEMU on my desktop and they seem to work... so the distro's are OK I think. Then I tried burning Knoppix on a DVD and booting the PC. I get the splash screen and it get to the point of saying something like "running dbus" and just hangs forever. I waited 40 minutes and still nothing. Tried booting the PC instead with a distro called "PCLinux Phoenix XFCE" that I burned onto CD. Once again splash screen and then nothing. Finally got a message saying it can't configure video and do I want to do it by hand. Really? Like I can do that. So I booted Win XP again and somehow THAT manages to run both monitors. I'm totally frustrated. Maybe trying Linux on my hardware is just a bad idea? Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong here? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    517
    If you have winxp installed, look into wubi as a baby step into linux. It is the full ubuntu distribution that can be installed as simply as any other windows application (download and run a .exe file). It puts ubuntu on the same partition as windows, in its own folder. If you don't like it, just remove it the way you would any other windows application using the "add/remove program" icon in the windows control panel. When you reboot, you will have the option of booting into either winxp or ubuntu. If you like it, you can put it on its own partition with little difficulty.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubi_%2...u_installer%29

    http://wubi-installer.org/

    Once you have it installed and have booted into it, you will want to run the package updater.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Generally speaking older the hardware the better the results - but I am personally amazed Knoppix live CD gave you issues....

    I'll just chip in a couple of things - I would stay with Ubuntu and not chop and change whilst a n00b. Since the laptop has given issues try it out by running with LiveCD on a desktop for your first experience. It is really rather good at running out of the box - does all you want (including multiple heads up without needing to know what X is) in the latest 10.4 lucid version so make sure that is the liveCD you use....

    Hoping you'll install soon (you'll not look back)
    In the process of arriving at Debian after seeing the light with Bucky Badger, which will date me if we ever have a Zany Zebra

  4. #4
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    Laptops are known for having weird hardware, so I'd recommend posting the make and model of the laptop here, plus Googling for {laptop name}+Linux, since the chances are someone will have got it to work.

    Failing that, you could do worse than trying some more lightweight distros on it. I do agree with MainframeGuy that it's best not to chop and change too much, but if you can find a distro that likes your system it will save you a lot of hassle. I've always been a fan of Puppy for older hardware, it seems to run on just about anything and it has a good selection of packages available.

    Getting a splash screen then nothing suggests to me that they distros are detecting the video card but setting it up wrongly, maybe because the card is a slightly different version to what's expected. You can usually get around that by forcing it to use a Vesa or 'framebuffer' driver, which is easier than it sounds - Knoppix, at least, has a boot option to do that.
    We are free to think. We are free to plan. And we are free to do. But once an action has been taken, we are never free from its consequences.
    --Russel M. Nelson, apostle.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    4

    Thank you

    Thank you for the replies. I love the suggestion of running wubi as a windows app to learn how to use Linux, that never occurred to me. Of course it won't run any faster than windows on this machine, since it's running IN a window, but it would be a good way to learn something.

    As for the spec.s, the laptop is a Toshiba Satellite Pro 460 CDX which means it has a 166 MHz Pentium in it and 32MB of RAM. The hard drive is a whopping 2 GB, same as the SD card in my camera. I don't have a clue what kind of video or sound it has in it.

    While looking into small versions of Linux I read about DSL and about Puppy... but I could not find a link to download Puppy. All the ones I tried were dead links. I thought maybe whoever created it was sued or just quit supporting it. Does anyone have a good link for this?

    I do appreciate the sentiment about not chopping and changing. That's the last thing I want to do. Maybe I am a windows user at heart because I'd really to find a distro that works and just leave it alone...

    My goal here is to make this old laptop usable again, basically as an internet terminal in some room in my house. Windows 98SE just doesn't perform acceptably on it when combined with a "modern" browser and Flash. It's OK to play old games on, though. I am assuming that putting Linux on it will make its speed acceptable and then I can run Firefox and the performance will be adequate. Some recent articles I've seen are making me doubt that assessment, however. If anyone has first hand knowledge on a machine this old, I'd appreciate the feedback.

    Again, thanks everyone for the helpful input.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2010
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    Well I went to http://wubi-installer.org/ and downloaded WUBI 10.04, started it up, and... got PYRUN ERROR NO DISK IN DRIVE G: Small wonder since I don't have a drive G. This is on par with all the other experience I've had so far with Linux. Everyone says it should be easy, but it doesn't work, and you can't tell why. Argh! This in my opinion is why more people don't use Linux. Either it works for you or you are just totally at sea and swimming with the sharks. So I am posting and someone will give me a suggestion and if that doesn't work I'll post again.. I can only do this after work so 24 hour turnaround time for each suggestion. With Micro$oft I'd call and yell at them and know who to blame. I read on one post on this board by "Loopback48": "Success is must for a newbie to keep coming back." That seems very true to me. I'm ready to throw in the towel. Honestly I am just persisting out of stubbornness now after failing to get six different CD's and a Knoppix DVD to work. At this point if someone asked me about Linux I'd tell them to run full speed in any other direction... Can anyone point me to some distro that will JUST WORK? Thanks and sorry if it sounds like a rant...

  7. #7
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    Trying2Try ,

    Welcome to Justlinux !


    You can download any Linux. The best place is Distrowatch.com. On its right hand side there is a list of the most popular 100 distros. By clicking any one will direct you to the distro site and you can download any version you want.

    I personally have never fed a Linux with a PC having only 32Mb of ram or in a hard drive with only 2Gb. I am surprised by your claim of running a Xp on it.

    For installation a Linux can expand 3 to 5 times its footprint in a CD. Therefore you will need at least 3.5Gb hard disk space for many of Linux.

    Your best bet is to source a Linux that requires the minimum from the hardware. Puppy and DSL are certainly good candidates.

    Linux uses mainly generic drivers so if your laptop has a special video card that may wrong foot the installer but to a certain point you can override by trying different video drivers. The good point about driver is if one works that the same driver will automatically work in other Linux for your hardware.
    Last edited by saikee; 07-28-2010 at 08:07 AM.
    Linux user started Jun 2004 - No. 361921
    Using a Linux live CD to clone XP
    To install Linux and keep Windows MBR untouched
    Adding extra Linux & Doing it in a lazy way
    A Grub menu booting 100+ systems & A "Howto" to install and boot 145 systems
    Just cloning tips Just booting tips A collection of booting tips

    Judge asked Linux "You are being charged murdering Windoze by stabbing its heart with a weapon, what was it?" Replied Linux "A Live CD"

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    So you have a very old laptop with 32MB RAM - and has difficulties finding a modern distro that works?
    How strange....
    Here's a tip: Try to install a modern Windows - WinXP or Vista or Win7 see how that works.
    When it doesn't, please call as you said: "With Micro$oft I'd call and yell at them and know who to blame. " Call MS and see if they can help you.

    That's for the rant.
    Now if you really want to get Linux on that lap - even though being a newbie - I'd say you need to find a 10 year old distro. I googled and found one report stating Slackware 8 worked fine (except for suspend). You might find othe distros as well.
    In pingvino veritas!

  9. #9
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    UK
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    The specs sound similar to my first ever desktop PC, which had Linux installed in a 1GB partition on a 2GB hard disk (the rest was reserved for CD images and a small DOS partition). Red Hat 5.2 installed and ran perfectly, then I upgraded to Mandrake 8.0 and learned just painful it can be. If you're bored enough you can search this site to see some of the fun I had getting Mandrake to install...

    But back to the point, Puppylinux.org has links on the Download page to the latest versions. Try downloading the iso from here.

    You might also find this thread interesting - somebody's been using Puppy on a slightly older (16MB) Toshiba laptop.

    To be fair, a lot of Linux distros these days seem to think that everyone's just bought a new PC, but Linux can be stripped down a long way and still work. If Puppy won't work (and you have some patience left), then an early version of a well-known distro probably will. Slackware and Debian have both been well-supported for a long time, and even recent versions of both will run well on fairly low-spec systems.
    We are free to think. We are free to plan. And we are free to do. But once an action has been taken, we are never free from its consequences.
    --Russel M. Nelson, apostle.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    Not one to dissuade anyone, especially you, from trying Linux but your doubts about the assessments of your hardware running Linux are correct. The chance of an enjoyable experience are very poor. Even if you were to install a Windows OS.

    One of my pet peeves about Linux is when folks say 'Linux can run on any PC'. It's just not true. Listen Bud, I've been there. Oh, believe me have I been there. There are times when one has to come out of the 20th century and into the 21st century. By that I mean, work with hardware that's somewhat - somewhat - modern.

    Good for you that you are interested in Linux. If you ever get it off the ground I do believe you'll really like it. But to tell you the truth, there is just so much Linux or any OS for that matter can do with the laptop you have.

    About your laptop: Try adding more ram. And see if you can't upgrade the drive. That's the first steps you should take. The HD is not overly important. But get one that has at least 10 Gbs of space. About Ram? Get as much as you can. No less than 384. And that's not near enough in my opinion. If you don't, your OS, if you can get installed, will run so slow your wouldn't like it and go running back to Windows. If nothing else, shop around for a cheap used laptop with better specs. You could pick up one for $100 or so.

    All this is a fact. Plain and simple. Why do folks like the big distros like Fedora, openSuse, Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, etc? Because they've got everything installed that make Linux enjoyable and functional. But for it to be enjoyable and functional, one has to have the proper hardware. No way around that.

    Last but not least go to distrowatch.com and download puppy or DSL (if it's still there) or one of those minimalist distros . Distros like that are barebones. They don't tax your hardware. They just might work. But like most Linux fanboys, I like my distros like I like my women - full figured, fast and flashy. Why do you think they are so popular?

    Welcome aboard but, good grief, come out of the hardware dark and into the light.

    Now mister, go out and give it hell!
    Thanks,
    Loopback48

    Debian fanboy. And only Debian.

    http://www.debiantutorials.org/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    4

    Enlightenment

    Well I do feel enlightened. I appreciate the sentiment that a "modern" distro won't run on the laptop, but why not on the desktop? I think my post was not clear, I have a lap-tique running Windows 98SE and a decent few year old desktop running XP.

    For whomever it may help, my conclusions are:
    1. There may be some small distro someplace that might work on the lap-tique but it's probably not worth the effort of finding
    2. Just get a better laptop off CraigsList... put Linux on that...
    3. My problems with WUBI are caused by it trying to install to my logical drive on my card reader. If that's disabled wubi apparently will install (see https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/365881 or http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1183856)
    4. No distro will install on the desktop because it's a dual-monitor system, and all the distro's try to install the drivers for the secondary that's on a PCI card, but try to display on the primary, the drivers for which they don't detect, in the AGP slot.

    Thanks to all for helping to alleviate my frustration and educate me. I may try again if I can find a half-decent laptop or if I decide to pull the secondary video card from the desktop.

    Again, thanks to all.

  12. #12
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    Houston, Texas
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    Don't know where I got the idea you had a laptop. Still, a desktop with those specs is pushing it.

    The minimalist distros like Puppy, DSL, etc, are just what might work on your machine. But they might not be your cup of tea. Plus, they are not as easy to install and tweak as you might think.

    But give your best. If you have the fever, go for it. What do you have to lose?
    Thanks,
    Loopback48

    Debian fanboy. And only Debian.

    http://www.debiantutorials.org/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    517

    the winxp comp should be np...but 32 MB...

    Sorry, I didn't read carefully enough to see that you were interested in linux on a computer with only 32 MB RAM running windows98se. The computer running winxp should not have too much problem running a lightweight version of linux, as I would expect anything running winxp to have at least 128 MB RAM. Never ran into a Drive G problem, sorry...

    Maybe you could post to any forum associated with wubi?

    32MB is tough....mepis antiX requires 64 MB, as does puppy, which will still probably use swap space on your hard drive to run on 64 MB RAM.

    You might consider Damn Small Linux, which supposedly can run on as little as 16 MB RAM on a x486, but that would be terminal-only mode (no graphics). At less than 128 MB RAM, it will still use some swap space on your hard drive. Feather linux will run graphics (X-windows) at only 24 MB RAM.

    So I would use mepis anti-x on the 128 MB computer and Damn Small linux or feather linux for the 32 MB RAM computer.

    Also note, it would probably be quite inexpensive to max out the RAM on these machines (if they are not maxed already) to get more options and much better performance.

    http://antix.mepis.org/index.php/Main_Page

    http://www.puppylinux.com/

    http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/

    http://featherlinux.berlios.de/

    While wubi will not work on the 32 MB computer, I would still think it should run on any computer that has winxp installed (but not win98se).
    Last edited by ehawk; 07-28-2010 at 11:54 PM.

  14. #14
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    The dual-monitor is not a hurdle to install a Linux.

    One of my boxes has two screens with which I run Xp, Vista and number of Linux.

    Vendors supply drivers manily to the MS Windows for their video cards driving twin monitors and Linux is left in the cold. However this can be rectified to a certain extent by configuring the /etc/X11/xorg.conf because many drivers in Linux are generic, written by volunteers and not directlt from the vendors. The generic drivers will work if the vendors follow the established rules.

    A twin monitor situation in Linux is having two video cards, two screens and one can specify one as next to the other etc.

    Most Linux when installed use just one of the screen but that is not the same as unable to install. Some will fire up both screens too as a mirror image.

    Windows got away by doing nothing and leaves the video card vendors to supply the software to do the configuration. The video card vendors supply the programs readily to be invoked as an icon in the "Control panel". In Linux the same configuration is done by the user with the X configuration file xorg.conf. As usual one comes to understand everything better in Linux.

    Here I list part of a OpenSuse xorg.conf that has been configured to run two monitors, with first screen maarked in red and second sscreen in blue
    Code:
    Section "Monitor"
      Option       "CalcAlgorithm" "XServerPool"
      DisplaySize  338 270
      HorizSync    30-82
      Identifier   "Monitor[0]"
      ModelName    "PHILIPS PHILIPS 170B4"
      Option       "DPMS"
    #  Option       "PreferredMode" "1280x960"
      VendorName   "PHL"
      VertRefresh  56-76
      UseModes     "Modes[0]"
    EndSection
    
    Section "Monitor"
      option "CalcAlgorithm" "XServerPool"
      DisplaySize 338 270
      HorizSync 30-82
      VertRefresh 56-76
      ModelName "Unknown"
      Option "DPMS"
    #  Option "PreferredMode" "1280x960"
      VendorName "Unknow"
      Identifier "Monitor[1]"
      UseModes "Modes[1]"
    EndSection
    
    Section "Screen"
      DefaultDepth 24
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      15
        Modes      "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" 
      EndSubSection
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      16
        Modes      "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" 
      EndSubSection
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      24
        Modes      "1280x1024" "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" 
      EndSubSection
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      8
        Modes      "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" 
      EndSubSection
      Device       "Device[0]"
      Identifier   "Screen[0]"
      Monitor      "Monitor[0]"
    EndSection
    
    Section "Screen"
      DefaultDepth 24
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      15
        Modes      "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600"
      EndSubSection
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      16
        Modes      "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600"
      EndSubSection
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      24
        Modes      "1280x1024" "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600"
      EndSubSection
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth      8
        Modes      "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600"
      EndSubSection
      Device       "Device[1]"
      Identifier   "Screen[1]"
      Monitor      "Monitor[1]"
    EndSection
    
    Section "Device"
      BoardName    "GeForce 7600 GT"
      BusID        "1:0:0"
      Driver       "vesa" #"nv"
      Identifier   "Device[0]"
      VendorName   "NVidia"
    EndSection
    
    
    Section "Device"
      BoardName    "GeForce 7600 GT"
      BusID        "1:0:0"
      Driver       "vesa" #"nv"
      Identifier   "Device[1]"
      VendorName   "NVidia"
    EndSection
    
    Section "ServerLayout"
      Identifier   "Layout[all]"
      InputDevice  "Keyboard[0]" "CoreKeyboard"
      InputDevice  "Mouse[1]" "CorePointer"
      Option       "Clone" "off"
      Option       "Xinerama" "off"
      Screen 0      "Screen[0]"
      Screen 1      "Screen[1]" rightOf "Screen[0]"
    
    EndSection
    I am one of those like to try all kind of Linux distros. I would say there may be 1 to 2 in a 100 that I cannot install in a PC due to the way the iso has been put together. There may be 10 to 20 in a 100 that have teething trouble requiring my intervention to get it up and running in a desktop but more of them if I install them in a laptop. This based on my experience of 7 desktops, one of them has 145 operating systems inside, and 3 laptops in the house.
    Last edited by saikee; 07-29-2010 at 07:17 AM.
    Linux user started Jun 2004 - No. 361921
    Using a Linux live CD to clone XP
    To install Linux and keep Windows MBR untouched
    Adding extra Linux & Doing it in a lazy way
    A Grub menu booting 100+ systems & A "Howto" to install and boot 145 systems
    Just cloning tips Just booting tips A collection of booting tips

    Judge asked Linux "You are being charged murdering Windoze by stabbing its heart with a weapon, what was it?" Replied Linux "A Live CD"

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Binghamton NY
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    To be very general about it, I had an old, low-end laptop, and the only thing I could get to run on it was Vector Linux Light, and that ran very nicely. Something to consider perhaps, if you're desperate.

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