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Thread: Basic laptop Linux system?

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    Basic laptop Linux system?

    I've been given an old lap top - probably ~500 mhz - but despite a format/ reload with Win2K and my best attempts at streamlining, the thing is just too slow to be of use. I thought perhaps Linux might be a solution, unfortunately I know absolutely nothing (I mean nothing) about Linux.

    The laptop will predominantly be used around the house in a wireless network although it will also be used elsewhere for word processinig. I therefore need a minimal os that will run all the laptop's hardware (including USB ports), run an internet browser (preferably Explorer but not crucial), a basic WordPad-esque word processor, the odd MP3, a calculator and an anti-virus (AVG?) - that's about it. Invariably I'm looking to spend as little money as possible on this thing but would fortunately like all the software to be as basic (less memory load) as possible.

    Help would be really appreciated!

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    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    • directhex's system
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    sounds like you REALLY have little linux experience.

    first of all, toss out the preconceptions your years of Windows abuse have taught you.

    you don't need anti-virus, of the 30-odd linux viruses of the past 12 years, they almost all target the Apache web server. word processing etc are NOT a problem, linux has a variety of fully-featured office suites to pick from. there are a large selection of web browsers, but believe it or not Microsoft don't make one for Linux (not to say it can't be run, but it's not really a good solution). An open source web browser like Firefox is a better bet.

    and, perhaps most importantly for you, you really don't need to spend any money.

    the only note of concern is over your wireless connection. hardware manufacturers can be pro or anti linux to varying degrees, and wireless is one area where some companies do good (ralink, intersil), some do very bad (broadcom). the exact model of your wireless card (and ideally the chipset it contains) would help give a firmer picture, otherwise it's pretty much fine

    one thing i would note is that linux likes ram. my girlfriend has a k6-2 450mhz laptop with 128mb ram, and it's a bit sluggish. a more lightweight linux distribution (or more ram) would really be a good bet.

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    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
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      • Case:
      • NZXT H440
      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2713HM
      • Internet:
      • FIOS
    also worth noting:

    download a linux livecd. put it in the cd drive, ask the computer to boot from cd. best way of seeing how things will look & whether your hardware will run. again, free. don't judge too much on the speed if you do that thoguh, livecds consume ram, and cd is slow compared to disk. examples include knoppix, mepis.

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    Cheers for the help.

    My wireless adapter is a Belkin USB card. Apparently although Belkin do not provide support for Linux, it is possible to get third party drivers (for a Broadcom chipset?)

    I was just gonna go straight ahead and install. At the moment, the laptop is unusable so anything is going to be better! I find Linux a bit intimidating. Are there different versions? If so, which (least system intensive) should I be installing?

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    Agent of the System ikonia's Avatar
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    SansSouci - you sound like your waaaaaaaay out of your deapth here.

    What is the driving factor for you choosing linux ? it sounds like some of your hardware is going to be a pain under linux (belkin wireless (usb) and bluetooth can be a real pain)

    If you do feel the need to persist with linux I'd sugest as Directhex has a live CD (which will be slower as it runs off ram only) just to see if you like the look and feel and can navigate around it easily enough, if you then want to install I'd say mandrake is the most "friendly" and low overhead to install out there.


    As mentioned above don't choose the latest and greatest linux release as your hardware may not be up to running it at a usable pace, perhaps choose latest version -5 releases or something like that, somethink like suse 8, redhat 7, mandrake 8 or 7, something around that time period may be ok for you, although this will not have the functionality by default for things like usb and wirless already in.

    Basically try a live cd like knoppix

    If you want to use the laptop free and wasy, go install win2K or win98, if you want to learn and you are prepared for the pain and not everything working out of the box linux is the only way to go
    It is Inevitable.....


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    I've never looked at Linux before, but I'm a fairly quick learner so I don't mind having a crack.

    With Win2K, MSConfig cleanup etc I was getting a three and a half minute bootup and it was bearable to use. Since coming back from my sisters (and Belkin drivers are the only new software I can find), this has doubled (when I first got it, we were talking 15 minutes to boot!). At the moment I can't even be bothered to boot it and check the specs it's so frustratingly slow. To be honest the thing needs binning but my flatmate decided to water hers with a pint of tea (a £1000 mistake) and seeing as she only really needs to surf t'internet I thought it might be worth setting up this old one.

    I'll try your suggestions (and probably be back with a million stupid questions ).

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    Agent of the System ikonia's Avatar
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    the fact that you can't be bother booting it to find out the spec (I hope this was a joke) suggests youv'e not really looked into it.

    Your using old kit (I guess) with new technology (wireless) I genuinly think your going to stuggle with linux on this, especially as this is your first dipping of the toe in the water.

    I'd seriously suggest you look at win98se or something like that that so that its easy to use and maintain.

    but if you do persist (good luck to you) I'd advise an older distro.
    It is Inevitable.....


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    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 5280k
      • Memory:
      • 32GiB ADATA DDR4
      • Storage:
      • Corsair Neutron XT 960GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G Twin Frozr 5
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860i
      • Case:
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      • Operating System:
      • Ubuntu 17.10, Windows 10
      • Monitor(s):
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      • Internet:
      • FIOS
    at the same time, an older distro will have less hardware support for the newer (e.g. wireless) kit.

  9. #9
    Agent of the System ikonia's Avatar
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    thats why I said he maybe having a hard time with this from start

    eg: too old kit to run for example a 2.6 stock distro, but a 2.2 or mid 2.4 won't have all the drivers, which means building a patching, and based on his earlier posts it may be a struggle, which is why I suggested perhaps a win 98 install ? maybe easier to just get up and running and maintain it.
    It is Inevitable.....


  10. #10
    Goron goron Kumagoro's Avatar
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    Linux is a pain in the arse its not like windows which you can just play with and work
    things out.

    I doubt its 500 MHz if it takes that long to boot, sounds more like 100 MHz or duff HDD.


    I have found WinME to run much faster on my 266MHz cacktop than the linux i have
    tired so far. damn small linux hd install running the best so far.

  11. #11
    Vive le pants! directhex's Avatar
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    • directhex's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI X99A Gaming 7
      • CPU:
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      • Graphics card(s):
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      • PSU:
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kumagoro
    Linux is a pain in the arse its not like windows which you can just play with and work things out.
    a bit of an unfounded statement. linux supports sata, network kit made in the last 5 years, bluetooth, etc. even xp doesn't, without pissing about with driver disks.

    in this particular situ, i'd just suggest running knoppix to ensure it's what is wanted, then switching to a distro such as xandros 3, suse 9.2, ubuntu. any of those should cope on older kit as well as or better than win2k

  12. #12
    Goron goron Kumagoro's Avatar
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    I would say it is founfed. I managed to work out windows without the internet when i
    was a kid and get things which didnt work to work. With linux you need to read stuff and
    more likely have someone tell you on a forum what needs to be done.

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    ikonia, we've all gotta start somewhere and I am capable of learning. I agree though that I should reconsider whether it's worth devoting time to a system that should really be in the charity shop! I've had a look at knoppix site and will certainly try running it to see how it feels. Win98 is also an alternative and I expect someone in the family can produce a copy and code if it's required.

    Thanks for all the help guys. I'll let you now how I get on.

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    Agent of the System ikonia's Avatar
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    your right that everyone starts somewhere, I just think this may be an unessasrily hard exercises for you - especially as a learning expereience.

    eg: you either use an older distro which will perform "ok" on the hardware you have, but will be a real pain to get the more modern / unsupported hardware working on,

    or you use a newer distro which may kill your laptop but have the support you need to get the newhardware ~(usb/wireless for example) working.

    Certainly not trying to put you off, but if you just need it for web surfing as you mentioned above getting this working and then maintaining maybe a real problem.

    its the same principal if you imagine as getting wirless and usb working under windows 3.11 but it won't kill your laptop to using XP which is all should work on, but will kill your kit.

    certainly not trying to discourage you but his is a harder "first attempt" at linux than I'd normally suggest. Be itnteresting how you get on with knoppix.
    It is Inevitable.....


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    Goron goron Kumagoro's Avatar
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    Has anyone tried using lindows linspire.....
    Knoppix is good for evaluation but if you do a hd install things seem to go wrong.
    If you can boot off CD then get 3.7 if not you need to mess around with poor mans
    installs and use 3.3.

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    Senior Members' Member Matt1eD's Avatar
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    • Matt1eD's system
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    Quote Originally Posted by ikonia
    As mentioned above don't choose the latest and greatest linux release as your hardware may not be up to running it at a usable pace, perhaps choose
    ikonia is right, the latest big name distros wont run on something that probably has minimal RAM (judging by your 500MHz) - I know little about Linux, but it depends on what Gnome thing e.t.c.; it requires alot of RAM.

    But try a live CD. I like ubuntu.

    http://forums.hexus.net/showthread.php?t=37518

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