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Old 01-28-08, 12:10 PM   #1
skinnyone
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Linux install on OLD laptop.. Paging FOO computer geeks

I have this Compaq 7800 series laptop, 266M P2 processor, 8GB HDD, 512MB ram. It runs windows XP now and is slow. I was looking to install Linux onto it for basic browsing and nothing much else. Any suggestion on what distribution to use?

I was thinking a light edition, something that uses Xfce as the desktop environment. Xubuntu? Anything else that is more bare bones? The one thing that I am worries about is drivers for such an old laptop.

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Old 01-28-08, 12:13 PM   #2
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Drivers for any laptop can be trouble. An old Compaq may be really bad. They are notorious for their proprietary hardware and drivers.

The only distribution have messed with in the past couple of years has been Ubuntu.
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Old 01-28-08, 12:17 PM   #3
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Drivers for any laptop can be trouble. An old Compaq may be really bad. They are notorious for their proprietary hardware and drivers.

The only distribution have messed with in the past couple of years has been Ubuntu.
I am OK with experimenting the shizzat out of it and wouldnt mind trashing it if it doesnt work out .
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Old 01-28-08, 12:22 PM   #4
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Try loading Ubuntu and hope for the best. Like Indy_Rider said, some devices might not work for you. At that point you may have no other option than to reinstall windows. Also, bumping up the ram some will help give you a little better performance.
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Old 01-28-08, 12:24 PM   #5
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While laptops (and especially those from crapware vendors like Compaq and Dell) tend to have a lot more proprietary stuff and can be especially tough to get working, the older models have been around longer, and have a better chance at having things figured out, a lot of the time.

Ubuntu seems to do pretty well at detecting and setting stuff up, but full Ubuntu/Kubuntu is a bit of a heavyweight, system-specs-wise. Xubuntu is probably a better choice, though I haven't used it.

Debian would also be good. More difficult to set up (though I haven't used the new installer), but much more flexible in the packages you choose to install.
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Old 01-28-08, 12:29 PM   #6
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Old 01-28-08, 02:37 PM   #7
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Since your application for you laptop is simple browsing, I suggest you check out Knoppix Linux
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Old 01-28-08, 02:40 PM   #8
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I did think about LiveCDs but I am not quite that sure how it will work yet.
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Old 01-28-08, 02:57 PM   #9
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It is pretty simple and clever how they do it. It has been awhile since I tried it but I was impressed on how easily I took my WIN2K laptop and converted it to a Linux laptop and could switch back to window by rebooting and removing the disk. However it wasn't impressively fast.
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Old 01-28-08, 03:13 PM   #10
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Xubuntu might actually be heavy for that laptop. The nice thing about it is that you can probably hunt around for solutions to your hardware problems on the ubuntu forums. I ran Xubuntu for a few years on my PIII and it worked except for my winmodem. Fluxbuntu is Ubuntu + a lighter fluxbox desktop.

If you're set on XCFE then Zenwalk might be a better choice as it is based on Slackware which is must faster. It is now available in a live cd.

Wolvix is an up and comer that employs XCFE and Flux.

Mepis and PCLinux OS both have lightweight side projects that might be worth checking into. I haven't run any of these.

Go to distrowatch.com and read up. Burn some live cds and see what works.

An earlier poster might be right that Knoppix might be the way to go.
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Old 01-28-08, 06:15 PM   #11
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You might give Slackware a go. It sometimes recognized oddball hardware, and is very lightweight.
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Old 01-28-08, 06:38 PM   #12
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Google is your friend for this sort of task. When I install Linux on an old laptop, I usually start here at Linux on laptops. They don't seem to have yours, but you can download a whitepaper here. You have to register, but its free. Other such information can easily be found, it's usually helpful.

Last edited by granularus; 01-28-08 at 06:39 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-28-08, 07:40 PM   #13
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You might give Slackware a go. It sometimes recognized oddball hardware, and is very lightweight.
Slackware is tough for noobs. Zenwalk is probably a lot easier, even if you have to install flux instead of xfce.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:03 PM   #14
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Google is your friend for this sort of task. When I install Linux on an old laptop, I usually start here at Linux on laptops. They don't seem to have yours, but you can download a whitepaper here. You have to register, but its free. Other such information can easily be found, it's usually helpful.
I did try. There were scant few results of old Ubuntu/Debian installs. Which gave me hope.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:05 PM   #15
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Slackware is tough for noobs. Zenwalk is probably a lot easier, even if you have to install flux instead of xfce.
I was going to add Zenwalk to the list. Found DSL on distrowatch.

LiveCD burn on its way!
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Old 01-28-08, 09:08 PM   #16
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You probably have to ID your hardware and debug piece by piece if you install any of these. Spin some livecds and see what works best out of the box.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:11 PM   #17
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I was going to add Zenwalk to the list. Found DSL on distrowatch.

LiveCD burn on its way!
Good choice! I guess I had heard that DSL was developing a live cd. DSL is so small that it can actually run in your RAM but you can add things later.

I still think you might be better off in the long run running with a lightweight version of Zenwalk because the software delivery and dependencies will probably work better. All of that is relatively new to DSL and is probably very buggy.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:19 PM   #18
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I was going to add Zenwalk to the list. Found DSL on distrowatch.

LiveCD burn on its way!
I was going to suggest DamnSmallLinux. You may still be facing an uphill battle with hardware, but for a lightweight PC/laptop there's not much better.
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Old 01-28-08, 09:52 PM   #19
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Wow, I hadn't looked at DamnSmallLinux in a long time. Last time I did, it was extremely rudimentary, and took some serious effort to install. Looks pretty cool now. Almost makes me want to build up a little fanless Mini-ITX machine with DSL on a small SSD. Mmm, silence and simplicity.
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Old 01-28-08, 10:00 PM   #20
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I've used knoppix for a long time, and it's a good swiss army knife livecd with tons of sw preinstalled.

Ubuntu's install cd is a livecd also.

Here's a site that lists a bunch of other livecd distro's:
http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php
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Old 01-28-08, 10:45 PM   #21
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thanks for the link Revolator..
Update :1

Tried DSL LiveCd and it worked pretty well. It didnt find my wireless card but thats no biggie. Default browser was fast as hell even on MY configuration!. Firefox was reasonably fast too. I tried to play videos but couldnt get flash player plugin to install and link up with Firefox . If I was just doing text only browsing, this would be perfect. Still gotta test audio, acroread etc..

I am going to try xubuntu,Zenwalk and Knoppix soon.
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Old 01-28-08, 11:29 PM   #22
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Wow, I hadn't looked at DamnSmallLinux in a long time. Last time I did, it was extremely rudimentary, and took some serious effort to install. Looks pretty cool now. Almost makes me want to build up a little fanless Mini-ITX machine with DSL on a small SSD. Mmm, silence and simplicity.
Both builds would not install on virtual machines, it made me sad.
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Old 01-29-08, 12:25 PM   #23
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http://www.tuxmobil.org

click on laptops and look up your model and see how others handled it
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Old 01-29-08, 12:52 PM   #24
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http://www.tuxmobil.org

click on laptops and look up your model and see how others handled it
Thanks pedex! There is one documented install of <drumroll> Fedora Core 1!
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Old 01-29-08, 03:07 PM   #25
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OH HEY!

There's a fluxbox version of Linux Mint that I bet will simplify your life.

http://linuxmint.com/rel_daryna_fluxbox.php
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