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Linux - Laptop and Netbook Having a problem installing or configuring Linux on your laptop? Need help running Linux on your netbook? This forum is for you. This forum is for any topics relating to Linux and either traditional laptops or netbooks (such as the Asus EEE PC, Everex CloudBook or MSI Wind).

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Old 08-22-2012, 10:45 AM   #1
adamt222
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Can someone suggest a good distro for Dell XPS M140


Hi LQ Forums. I recently inherited an old laptop, a DELL XPS M140. It's basically stock, with exception to the RAM (it has maximum of 2 GB).

Side Note: I checked "Similar Threads" and the HCL, but this model is not listed in the HCL. When I tried to add it, the only "close" choice was Laptops/Netbooks->Lenovo, which obviously does not apply. Edit: after some research, I determined that PATA/IDE SSD drives are pricey & run slow based on controller, so...not worth the trouble, advice leans toward a spinning 7200 rpm drive.

What Linux distro can I put on this machine that's going to run and respond fast, without overly taxing the 1.75ghz Pentium M CPU? I'm not looking for eye candy but it shouldn't be "ugly" either. Would also prefer Long-term or even rolling release cycle.

I ran Archbang for a while, but gave up. I wanted to learn about the pacman package management, but after numerous attempts to fix various signature/signing issues, I gave up. I'm not knocking the hard work put into developing Archbang and appreciate their time, but even after numerous googling and form post readings/applying their solutions that didn't work, I found it was getting in the way, so I bailed.

I'm currently running Crunchbang Linux (Waldorf Testing) and there are some concerns that make me consider staying with the distro. In my experience (with 32-bit version):
  • The CPU gets easily maxed out when I use Google Chrome/Chromium to browse to a youtube web page or watch any individual video from youtube.
  • My Digital Camera does not get detected, but I can import pictures via command line tools. Canon Elph digital camera detected fine on other computers.
  • Terminator terminal and Chromium Browser load real slow, but LXTerminal opens in far less time. Terminator opens super-fast on ubuntu 12.04 on a few other machines (various ram/processor combos).
Any input appreciated, thanks.
Adam

Last edited by adamt222; 08-22-2012 at 01:17 PM. Reason: Did some SSD research
 
Old 08-22-2012, 11:58 AM   #2
jefro
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This sort of question seem to get a lot of replies.

My best guess is that only you can decide. I only assume this is a newish system and as you said you have 2G ram so almost any of the choices at www.distrowatch.com could be tested. Most of them have a live cd/dvd/usb image to try.

Be sure to consider virtual machines also. I tend to use them over dual boots. Check if the PentiumM has vt-x.


I think I'd use a ssd over a small drive speed update. Not sure any laptop is worth spending money on. New ones are so cheap.
 
Old 08-22-2012, 12:03 PM   #3
camorri
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Quote:
First question: Should I replace the 5400 RPM IDE Drive with a 7200 RPM IDE, or is it feasible/possible to put a solid state drive in there without headaches?
Is the drive broken? If not, why? Solid state drives can be a pain. Look around the forum, you will see some hits on this. The speed increase of a 7200 rpm dirve is not worth the expense.

Quote:
What Linux distro can I put on this machine that's going to run and respond fast, without overly taxing the 1.75ghz Pentium M CPU?
What ever one you like. There are a ton of " what distro threads " on the forum. It boils down to what you like. Speed and light weight, ever considered Slackware? You can install with xfce desktop, little eye candy and as fast as anything out there ( once booted ).

BYW, I find Chrome slow also, so I'm a Firefox fan.

Digi-cams.... Some of them you need to go into the settings and change them, to get them to mount. You can also get memory card USB holders, and they will mount on almost any system. I don't remember the name of the setting right now, however I can look it up if required....
 
Old 08-22-2012, 12:36 PM   #4
DavidMcCann
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If you have personal information on the machine, you need to consider encrypting /home: laptops are so stealable. You can encrypt after installation, but it requires knowledge and it's fiddly; obviously you can't encrypt /home while you're using it, for a start!

Good distros with encryption that won't overtax your CPU (no KDE desktop!) are
CentOS: high stability, long-term support, older software, small repository, Gnome desktop
Fuduntu: rolling release, small but stable repository, Gnome desktop
Mint: 6-monthly release, generous repository, Mate desktop
 
Old 08-22-2012, 01:25 PM   #5
adamt222
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Thanks all for your responses. With regard to the hard drive, it is currently not broken.
The machine, however, is old. The 5400 rpm hard drive has seen a fair amount of use.

"All moving parts stand still" at some point. I'd like to not spend a lot of money on this laptop, but
want to be (at the very least) "enjoyable to use". I know it's all a compromise at some point when trying to extend
the life span of "a clunker".
The 1.75ghz processor, I don't see anything performing well on it within a VM. Live CD for some distros (Mint 13 Lxde edition for example) was painfully slow).

Thanks @ David McCann for the HD encryption for the /home folder suggestion. I will probably do that once I settle on a distro.

So basically, it's probably a waste of time to put in a 7200 rpm drive, as the increase in performance will be minimal... time to shop for laptop I guess.
Cheers,
Adam

Last edited by adamt222; 08-22-2012 at 01:27 PM.
 
Old 08-22-2012, 02:12 PM   #6
camorri
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Rather than encrypt the entire /home directory, I install Truecrypt. You can make 'containers' that are encrypted. Inside the container you put what ever files you want to keep from prying eyes.

Any VM may make the distro seem slow. You wind up dividing the memory between the host and guest systems. 2 gig of ram may be the problem there.

I would give the machine an install, and see what you think. I have an older Pentium 4 system ( XP vintage ) and is reasonable on Slackware with an XFCE desktop. You get two benefits here. Experience with an install, and the first hand knowledge if the laptop is good enough, or not.
 
Old 08-22-2012, 02:59 PM   #7
adamt222
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camorri View Post
I would give the machine an install, and see what you think. I have an older Pentium 4 system ( XP vintage ) and is reasonable on Slackware with an XFCE desktop. You get two benefits here. Experience with an install, and the first hand knowledge if the laptop is good enough, or not.
Sounds good camorri, I'll consider Slackware. Never used it before, but have heard good things about it.
 
  


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