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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 11-30-2013, 11:56 AM   #1
rebbi
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Question Snappy distro needed for Gateway Solo 2500


Hi,
Well, I've been a Linux tinkerer for about 6 years but this is
<trumpet_fanfare>
my very first LQ post.
</trumpet_fanfare>



I have an ongoing charity project involving rehabilitating old laptops and giving them away to disadvantaged students who need but can't afford a computer at school.

I typically install Bodhi or Lubuntu on more recent machines, but I'm now trying to set up a laptop with very limited resources and finding it a challenge to find a distro that will run at decent speed.

The machine is a Gateway Solo 2500:
400 MHz Celeron
256 MB RAM
Neomagic video card
CD drive
No native Ethernet but I have an Atheros-based PCMCIA wireless card plugged in.

Lucid Puppy runs reasonably well, but web browsing is painfully slow as the HD grinds away swapping memory (I presume). (Newer versions of Puppy lack the Neomagic driver in the kernel, so they're out).

Vector (Slackware based) is surprisingly better, overall. Web browsing is still slow but more usable than Puppy.

I'm going to give Tinycore a try today.

Anybody else have any suggestions? I also have Slackware 7.0 burned to disks but it seems a little over my head and I'm wondering if it'd be any lighter or faster than Vector.

Thanks in advance!

Steve
 
Old 11-30-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
DavidMcCann
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Puppy usually runs from RAM and TinyCore does so by default: that's not a good idea with 256MB!

The lightest environments you can find will be AntiX or Bodhi. The idle results I got were
AntiX: 60MB, 69 tasks
Bodhi: 70MB, 73 tasks
Vector Standard: 120MB, 118 tasks
 
Old 11-30-2013, 02:48 PM   #3
rebbi
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Hmmm... Bodhi has always been a favorite distro of mine. Lemme see if this old machine will run it. I'm a little dubious about that old Neomagic gfx card, but who knows?
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:03 AM   #4
agentsteel
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Slitaz is also a great alternative to Puppy/Tinycore.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:15 AM   #5
syg00
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I also like Bodhi for limited boxes - having the Ubuntu heritage gives access to a plethora of people finding fixes. Me talking from a Gateway netbook with GMA500 piece of crap.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 09:08 AM   #6
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It's not your choice of distro that's the problem, it's the internet itself... many modern websites simply aren't designed for a computer that old/slow!

Try installing the following browser add-ons for an improved browsing experience: flashblock, adblock, noscript.

I would suggest pitching your charity project to local businesses/institutions/universities. Perhaps you can find a local company that would donate better computers than what you're currently attempting to use. A lot of businesses are dumping massive amounts of hardware right now in preparation for Windows XP end-of-life in April 2014. For example a high-end XP machine might have dual core processor and 1-2gb of RAM (much better performance than your 400mhz celeron with 256mb!) but it is cheaper/easier for the business to simply replace it with a new Windows 7 or 8 machine rather than attempt to upgrade-in-place. If a local business in this situation hears of your charity work, they might be able to help you out big-time.
 
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
rebbi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syg00 View Post
I also like Bodhi for limited boxes - having the Ubuntu heritage gives access to a plethora of people finding fixes. Me talking from a Gateway netbook with GMA500 piece of crap.
Hi,

I LOVE Bodhi, too! (I also really like e17!) It's amazing what that distro will run on. At first I couldn't get Bodhi 2.4 to boot from the latest live CD, but I just discovered that the non-PAE version of 2.4 boots just fine. Installing it on the Gateway as I type this. It'll be interesting to see how response it'll be.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 10:36 AM   #8
rebbi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
It's not your choice of distro that's the problem, it's the internet itself... many modern websites simply aren't designed for a computer that old/slow!

Try installing the following browser add-ons for an improved browsing experience: flashblock, adblock, noscript.

I would suggest pitching your charity project to local businesses/institutions/universities. Perhaps you can find a local company that would donate better computers than what you're currently attempting to use. A lot of businesses are dumping massive amounts of hardware right now in preparation for Windows XP end-of-life in April 2014. For example a high-end XP machine might have dual core processor and 1-2gb of RAM (much better performance than your 400mhz celeron with 256mb!) but it is cheaper/easier for the business to simply replace it with a new Windows 7 or 8 machine rather than attempt to upgrade-in-place. If a local business in this situation hears of your charity work, they might be able to help you out big-time.
Nice suggestions, snowpine! Right now, the kind of machines I get donated are all over the map. I've had a gorgeous, widescreen Vaio that needed the power button (and power PCB) replaced on one end, and some very old Compaq's that had been gathering dust on the other end. I have to say that it's sometimes more satisfying to bring the more pathetic, old laptops back to life than it is to wipe the drives of newer machines and just install Linux on them.

I especially like liberating (i.e., putting Linux) on those machines that came out during the "Certified for Vista" scandal. They gasped and crawled under Vista but fly under the right Linux distro!

When I can, I just give the machine away, although I'll ask for a small donation from the recipient to help keep the project financially sustainable for me. If I have to replace parts, I just ask for the cost of the parts. This is usually minimal, since parts for even the oldest machines can usually be found cheaply on eBay.

This project has been a win-win all around. I get some play therapy, the person gets a computer for school, and the machine stays out of landfill.

Last edited by rebbi; 12-01-2013 at 10:38 AM.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 10:42 AM   #9
rebbi
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Originally Posted by agentsteel View Post
Slitaz is also a great alternative to Puppy/Tinycore.
I tried the latest Tinycore but it doesn't seem to know what to do with this old gfx card in this machine. The colors are all off (yellows and greens) and everything is illegible. Good suggestion, though! Slitaz is really cool, I know, but in the latest Slitaz X won't start on this machine; it just boots to a console and refuses to startx. Again, I suspect it has to do with this oddball Neomagic gfx card.
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:13 PM   #10
rokytnji
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http://antix.freeforums.org/i-m-tryi...ser-t4536.html

I think acpi off boot cheat code got em going in the end. acpi=off goes on the end of the kernel line for those old laptops.
So maybe Tinycore,Slitaz, may need that help. Though if I had your laptop. I'd just AntiX it with a Base Iso or Full Iso install.

Use Debian Testing/Jessie or Unstable/Sid for me. You might more comfy with Wheezy running.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFW...KlXW5uE9opXukQ
 
Old 12-01-2013, 06:41 PM   #11
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I think snowpine and I need to form some kind of group to encourage people not to use overly old hardware.
I'll not repeat mine or his reasons but it really is not a good a idea to use older hardware, unless you're doing so deliberately, and it can be counter-productive.
 
Old 12-02-2013, 12:35 AM   #12
mdlinuxwolf
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The RAM can probably be upgraded. I would also see if another CPU might work, perhaps a pentium.

That will help with distros like puppy.
 
Old 12-02-2013, 11:06 PM   #13
rebbi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdlinuxwolf View Post
The RAM can probably be upgraded. I would also see if another CPU might work, perhaps a pentium.

That will help with distros like puppy.
The RAM is actually maxed out on this machine; I got it with only 128 MB and doubled it to 256, which is the max it will handle.

I'm going to give CrunchBang a try and I'll report back. Thanks!
 
Old 12-03-2013, 03:57 AM   #14
s.verma
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Dear rebbi,
I also agree with snowpine. Nowadays internet can not be used with such a machine.

But let me also tell you that I am posting this on my Celeron M 1.3 GHz, 256 MB RAM machine.
Well you can not donate it to those who want to use it for their personal computing.

But these 400 Mhz, 256 MB ram machines can be used to learn linux. So if you can donate them to just teach people or younger children Unix/Linux, especially from command line interface (CLI), then you can install any distro which defaults to CLI, like debian netinstall or slackware etc.

Such old machines can still be used for text processing (That too of advanced level). Especially with unix CLI tools, it becomes awesome.
 
Old 12-03-2013, 08:13 AM   #15
aristocratic
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What flavor of Linux are you using, @s.verma?
 
  


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