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Really old Laptop, Need lightweight OS suggestions

Discussion in 'Linux and Unix' started by Crate, Oct 12, 2008.

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  1. Crate

    Crate Thread Starter

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    Hello, I've just been given a really old laptop. I'd estimate it's about 10 years old, it's got a 600 Mhz Pentium II processor, and 64 MB of RAM (if I can find another stick, it does have one more slot) and I believe 4.5 GB hard drive. It originally ran Windows 98, but when I got it, it had Windows 2000 Professional (which ran terribly slowly btw). I went to start it up one day and it told me that a file necessary to boot windows was corrupt and I needed the installation disk to repair the Windows installation. Of course I don't have a copy of Windows 2000 lying around, but I do have 98. The only thing is 98 is not being updated and supported by Microsoft anymore.
    I'm wondering if there's any lightweight OS that will run on my current hardware. I'd like a GUI though, if possible, since I really don't know how to use a text base OS like the alternate Xubuntu. Also, something that will support my cardbus WiFI card, have Internet browser, and do basic office applications (something that will run Open Office).

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. Crate

    Crate Thread Starter

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    BTW, it's a Dell Latitude CPt notebook. It looks like my MoBo supports up to 512 MB
    I'm probably looking at a RAM upgrade, but the PC100 memory modules I find are so pricey. I've looked online and found a 512 MB card for $60, the 256 MB one is $50. I'd go with the 512, but it seems like so much money to spend on such an old machine. Maybe I'm just missing my 2007 $1100 HP notebook that got destroyed.
    But, still, if there's a good distro of Linux out there that will run on my current hardware for now, that would be great.
     
  3. CloudCutter

    CloudCutter

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    Your biggest limiting factor is your ram. Ram will prevent you from checking out the Live CD's and from using even some of the lesser-featured distros. If you can find a stick for that empty slot, that'll open up a few more options. You also need to find out if your system will boot from CD. If not, then you'll need to create a boot diskette. Don't worry, there are plenty of sources on the internet for those. All this aside, there are some distributions that would likely work nicely on your rig as it is.

    The first distro that comes to mind is DSL (Damn Small Linux). DSL was one of the very first small footprint distros.and they keep improving that niche with every release. Coming up in DSL's rear-view mirror is Puppy Linux. Puppy linux is beginning to win over a lot of users. Even users with powerful rigs seem to admire the beauty and economy of this tiny distro. And speaking of tiny... Tiny Linux weighs in at a petite 57MB, requires 50 MB disk space (80 recommended), 8MB ram (but works better with 12 or 16) and requires a floppy drive. This is a very spartan distro though. In this category there is also Feather Linux which is one of my favorites in this bunch. And I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention SLAX. Slax is based on Slackware, the oldest living Linux meta-distribution on the planet. I've never tried SLAX, but it does fit within your hardware profile.

    Another distro, which is a step up in features and function is Vector Linux. The system requirements are a notch above the ones I've mentioned, but they are still within your profile. Vector does a good job of adding features in an intelligent design without making great sacrifices of speed. Finally, there is Xubuntu. Xubuntu wouldn't really be a good option for you unless you filled that empty ram slot. The bare minimum Xubuntu will run on is 64MB ram, but it really needs 128MB to function in an acceptable manner. If you can swing that though, Xubuntu is really one of the best choices for a MS Windows user who wants to try out linux on a machine with limited capabilities.

    I hope some of this helps. I heartily recommend you burn copies of at least 3 or 4 distros and check them all out. Remember as you embark on your journey, that " a GUI does not an OS make". There are several window managers and desktop environments for linux. You will be limited somewhat in that regard by this rig, but if you find you like linux and decide to install it on something with a little more umpff!, you will be pleasantly surprised. The latest incarnation of KDE (4.1.2) is a thing of beauty. Infinitely configurable to your preferences, and every bit as beautiful as Mac OSX or Vista. Linux coders have traditionally shunned flash in favor of function and stability, but this time it looks like they're going for all three. And on a Core 2 or Athlon64 system, you shouldn't see any speed penalty.

    Before I wrap this post up, let me make one last recommendation. Download and burn a copy of Parted Magic. This is a bootable utility disk that can get you out of all kinds of jams and generally make life easier, whether you're using Linux or Windows. OK, that's it. I leave you to your choices. Don't forget to take time to savor the experience.

    Peace!

    CloudCutter
     
  4. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    Agree with the above. I like Puppy Linux; it will probably run in 64MB. In 128MB (see my computer specs) it boots, including connecting to a Wi-Fi network, in a minute and shuts down in 10 - 15 seconds.

    DSL looks interesting, but it wouldn't boot for me unless I turned off use of PCMCIA slots.

    With old hardware, there may be a problem, as I discovered, in support for some of it. So, try several distributions if the first doesn't succeed.
     
  5. prunejuice

    prunejuice

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    I have an old Sony Vaio 600Mhz PIII that I bumped the RAM to it's maximum of 256MB.
    It runs Xubuntu comfortably. I picked up a 128MB stick of RAM for it on Ebay for $12 shipped.
     
  6. Crate

    Crate Thread Starter

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    hey, thanks a lot for all the suggestions, Puppy Linux looks quite intriguing, so I think I'll try that first, but I think I'll try a couple more too, I'm getting an old Compaq desktop from the early 2000's so it my be a good learning experience. I've always been interested by alternative OS's but I've never worked up the will to experiment with them.
    My only problem so far is that it seems my CD-ROM drive on the notebook isn't working anymore and I don't have a diskette drive. I remember when Windows still worked the device manager said there was nothing wrong with the drive, but it wouldn't read any kind of disk. My friend, who owned the notebook before me, but only for a few weeks, said she did accidentally eject the drive and it fell on the concrete once, but she had never used the drive before so she doesn't know if it ever worked, but that might be it. I'll see what I can do though.
     
  7. avisitor

    avisitor

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    I'm going to send you to Geeks.com for the memory upgrade. Generally, it's the cheapest around, however, shipping is pricey and the stuff is generally refurb.

    I second Puppy, though.
     
  8. Crate

    Crate Thread Starter

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    alright, thanks a lot
     
  9. brn2rul

    brn2rul

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    Try damn small linux .. it is as good as Puppy linux
     
  10. x7turtle7x

    x7turtle7x

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    Yeah, DSL is a good call on this one. Never tried puppy, but I've used DSL, and it sounds suitable for your needs.
     
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