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Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:44 am
by iambutaseeker
just bought a reconditioned laptop to use as a "second" PC. It comes with Windows XP, and I thought it would be a breeze to put a Linux distro on there as well, and dual boot. But it's turning out not so straightforward.

It's a Research Machines CL50. The Windows Device Manager tells me that it has a Pentium M Processor 1.6GHz, and an Intel Pro Wireless 2915ABG Network connection. 752MB RAM, 40GB HDD with 29GB free.

On trying to boot into a Ubuntu 12.04 DVD, it immediately tells me that it cannot boot as my processor does not support PAE. Could the DVD (which I got from a friend) be a 64-bit Ubuntu? I don't think it is.

I tried to use older versions of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, OpenSuSE and DSL, but upon booting up fine, it won't connect wirelessly to the internet. I am assuming this is because the older versions don't have the drivers for the wireless card in the laptop. I am not sure of the age of the laptop.

I tried Ubuntu 11.04 from a USB stick - but it ignored the memory stick even though the BIOS was set to boot from USB. However it did boot DSL from a different stick. Ubuntu's stick was formatted FAT32 but DSL's was formatted FAT16 (go figure...). Can some BIOS's only USB-boot from FAT16-formatted sticks?!

Thank you for any advice anyone can give. My problem, in summary, appears to be finding a version of Linux my laptop will accept, that has the capability to use the laptop's wireless card to access the internet.

At the moment, Windows XP is the only OS to play ball...

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:45 am
by i_amlegend
Most modern distros come with kernels that have PAE enabled by default. Sadly, some versions of tthe Pentium M (those with a 400MHz frontside bus) don't support PAE. Some distributions, like Debian and Slackware, deliver kernels on their install media without PAE, so that you can use those to install the system. Slackware should run out of the box on that machine, Debian will need firmware for the wireless device that is not on the install medium, but can easily be installed if you can connect for a short time to a wired connection.

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:48 am
by i-conica
Just on the weekend I tested out some puppy-linux live cd's, and particularly,
http://puppylinux.org/main/Download%...%20Release.html

slacko-5.3.3-4g-scsi.iso &

slacko-5.3.3-highmem-pae-scsi.iso

Both iso's are about 115Mb.
Download site (md5 sums, etc.)Here.

Try the (less than) 4g version. Uh, it's also lightweight on memory if need be.

Just my opinion. They look and operate really well. (but "this" is a recent PC)
And not kde, but openbox/icewin (Ubuntu like).

Cheers, and good luck with your journey.

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:50 am
by i017535
This is OK for many of the newish distros.

" Pentium M Processor 1.6GHz, and an Intel Pro Wireless 2915ABG Network connection. 752MB RAM, 40GB HDD with 29GB free."

The problem seems to be a boot issue with one choice that can be fixed and the other issue is network.

First you need to see if your disto has direct kernel support. Then you need to configure it to work.

So start with lspci and see if it shows the device. Then maybe try ifconfig -a command or see if the driver has been loaded. I forget the command right now.

If all else fails then we can try to use the Intel drivers. One is this. http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Deta...el%20Tested%29

If that fails then we can try using windows drivers.

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:53 am
by i020590
Hmm. Well, I'm not too keen on Puppy as I've tried it before; but an old Ubuntu 9.10 disk I have does boot into Live mode successfully. I used 9.10 for two years (I don't update every six months!) so I know my way around it. However, in Live mode it didn't recognise the wireless, nor the wired connection once I'd hooked it up. Could the network/wireless on the laptop be "soft" only?

Since the laptop will not be a main machine, I'm wondering whether to just stick with XP on there and not install Linux. Most of the work I'll do on it will be offline anyway (reading PDFs etc) as any large scale downloading and real work will be done on my regular desktop PC. But that is a little bit defeatist, so it would be a nice challenge if I could get some kind of Linux to work on there.

If I installed Ubuntu 9.10 on there (to dual boot with XP), and presumably downloaded drivers (using my main PC) to get either the wired connection or preferably the wireless connection to work, then would I still be able to install extra software from the Ubuntu Software Centre? Would anything still be on there, for a distro three years old?

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:55 am
by i0null
Ubuntu 9.10 has reached its end of life in April 2011. Since then it got now security updates or bugfixes. It is not recommended at all to use this version.
I would still recommend to go for Debian, connect your machine with a wire while installing, so that you get a network manager and after the install completes install the package firmware-ipw2x00 to get your wireless working.

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:57 am
by i18nde
Okay, I will give Debian a try. But, being that the only distro I have ever installed so far has been Ubuntu, can you clarify if the install process is really as complicated as outlined in http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/ ?

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:00 am
by i2ambler
>>it is recommended to have the laptop connected with a wired connection during the install.

Well, that's assuming the installer is able to use the wired connection itself!

And does the Debian installer support "live mode" and dual booting, or is it going to be expecting to use the whole HDD by default?

I am, at the moment, downloading "debian-live-6.0.5-i386-xfce-desktop.iso", so I am assuming this does support live mode, at least to test it out before installing.

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:02 am
by i2landscape
Wired connections almost always work in current OSes.
The Debian installer CD does not have a live-mode, dual-booting is supported, but may require manual partitioning.

Re: Finding any Linux to run on my laptop?

Posted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:05 am
by i3rianl
I STILL am running 8.04 on an AMD 64 (desktop however), and have less problems with it, than 10.04, and 12.04, ON THE SAME MACHINE.

I have no intentions right now of deleting that install.

Some parts of 'x' distro do get better with each new release. But the problems, when they arise, seem MORE UN-solvable than ever...

Get a Hardy disk, and load it. If you know how to manually install packages, you'll be better off, IMO...