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I take it that's after installing? Just booting from the USB on top of WinXP with IE, the firefox icon seems pretty dead.
Are you running linux in virtualization? A virtualized linux doesn't have direct hardware access. You can setup a bridge to use the host environments network, but that is more difficult IMO than just booting and running linux natively. TBH I tend not to use the gui tools for networking. But I tend not to start my systems up in a gui mode given a choice. Less apps means less ram used by those apps, and more resources available for the days tasks.
You can do a lot stuff from the commandline in linux. To include video recording and editing, although the representation is only approximate with aalib and caca. That might sound odd to a windows user, but when you start talking older hardware with 0.5GB of RAM, freeing up 0.1GB or more of RAM by not using a gui is 20% or more RAM, and is quite significant.
"Are you running linux in virtualization? A virtualized linux doesn't have direct hardware access."
I think not, but I guess I have to ask, "How can I tell?" or "How can I be sure I'm not?" All I'm aware of doing at this point is that I boot from a bootable USB. From what you say, any possibility of virtualization would explain a lot about my results so far--I get the desktop but very little else that works except that I can see some of the things that are already on the netbook and the Terminal command line seems to work, at least for one of the many possible commands.
"… I tend not to start my systems up in a gui mode given a choice. Less apps means less ram used by those apps, and more resources available for the days tasks."
That sounds reasonable, see my next snip and comment.
"… when you start talking older hardware with 0.5GB of RAM, freeing up 0.1GB or more of RAM by not using a gui is 20% or more RAM, and is quite significant."
Point well taken even though my LT20 netbook lists 1GB of RAM. So far, I've been experimenting with a Mint download but I may, ultimately, need to get whatever is the lightest I can use.
I really haven't touched virtualization yet, so I'm not really sure how to tell. I only mentioned it as your pitfalls seem to be all the common ones associated with it. In a chroot, which is different than virtualization, you'll have difficulty playing with mounted devices, networks, and kernel modules. Although you could in theory play with those things depending on how you got there from here (i.e. how much of the host distro was shared with the chroot). But basically I don't know.
1GB of RAM is fine for a lot of things. But applications and things tend to get bigger with age. So you might find yourself jumping through more and more hoops to keep it useful over time. I've jumped through a few hoops to keep my more common game playable on my 1GB of RAM desktop (that I started playing on a 0.5GB laptop years ago), but ultimately I had to upgrade to 2GB of RAM to satisfy the evolution of that game. Most distros start a lot of things by default these days. Like cups (printers), samba and nfs (network file sharing), and a few other things which you may never need in some use cases. They all use cpu cycles, and RAM, and generally get bigger with age.
You give the impression that your ISP may be limiting the amount of your downloads.
Well I don't know who's pulling the plug--I don't get an error message. I just added Lubuntu to my bootables and, being smaller it only took two tries. If the problem is my ISP, more than one is doing it; it would be less bad if whoever just had guts enough to say so.
You also wrote:
What's your limit …
I get 4GB per month on my MiFi. No limit if I sit in the mall in range of the Apple Store
... and have you tried downloading when you've got a full fresh month's allowance?
That doesn't seem to matter--I did the .iso download for Lubuntu at the end of the month on my MiFi
Just do an install - doesn't matter which one.
Yes I'm just about desperate enough to "just do it" but I strongly suspect that, if I can't get on the internet from a USB boot, any additional things that must be downloaded will fail. I apparently have hardware issues in addition to what is pertinent to this thread.
I have gotten nearly everything I could reasonably expect from this topic except that, given the nature of my interrupted downloads, I still haven't been very successful getting a download manager. I just checked at my local public library to see whether they had a wired setup but, no, their system is strictly WiFi.
There is no such thing as an actual download manager!
You either use wifi or a wired connection.
You mean none of the programs that supposedly serve to resume an interrupted download actually do so? One of the problems looking for helping utility programs is that, without a recommendation, I can't tell good offerings from poor ones written by fumblers or scammers. On this subject even what I found at Sourceforge seemed suspicious. I had one a while back that I tried and after a long process (I had to download another program to unzip the .tar.gz bit) I wound up with a folder full of files, none of which was an executable.
You also wrote:
You are surely not trying to use a manky dongle thing that picks up a mobile signal?
No but the target computer, booted in either Lubuntu or Mint, doesn't go online so I wonder if someone sells a USB device to get WiFi (that would be inconvenient). The problem appears to be due to the Atheros internal WiFi adapter not being recognized by Linux. The part that burns my butt is that, by googling, I get 2 and more years old web sites that sound like this was solved years ago with improved open source drivers incorporated into the Linux kernel.
You also wrote:
I've installed with very weak wifi connections - it will retry a number of times if you lose the signal.
I take it you mean the actual installation rather than downloading the .iso file. (?)