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Okay I have what may seem like a stupid question but while I'm pretty competent with computers, I don't have a lot of experience in installing OS's.
I have an old laptop, my ex-bf was trying to get it running again but the trouble is I don't have the Windows COA to get Win 95 running and frankly, part of why the laptop wasn't working was because Windows was corrupted. I've been thinking about trying Linux for a long time now and I figure this'll be a good time to do so.
The trouble is, I'm getting very confused with all these distributions and stuff. Plus I want to just wipe the hard drive clean and install Linux on a fresh slate but I have NO clue how to do so.
So here's what I'm dealing with -- the laptop in question is a Fujitsu 535T Lifebook (dates back to 1997). It's got a 133 MHz Pentium, 16 MB RAM, 2 GB hard drive. There's a modular bay that can hold either the 3.5" floppy drive or the CD-ROM drive (the CD-ROM is in there now). I can enter BIOS setup with no problems, but then the Win 95 setup comes up and if I don't enter the COA number it turns the computer off.
I've got DSL now, and a burner on my current desktop so downloading an ISO and burning it to CD I don't think will be a problem.
My question is, what distribution should I go with, and once I get it downloaded and on a CD, how do I wipe the laptop's hard drive and install this new OS?
Also, I have a wireless modem and I'd like to add a wireless card to this laptop once it's running so I can transfer files to my current computer (a year-old Dell with Win XP). Will any decent wireless PCMCIA card work with Linux, or do I have to look for a specific one? And what about transferring files? I know there's problems working on a word processing file on both a Mac and a PC but what about working on one in Win XP and Linux?
Sorry for all the dumb questions but I'm a little confused!
One thing you mention is that you have only 16 MB of ram. I assume you want to use it in a desktop configuration since you mention editing office files with it. To do any decent office tasks like word processing in a graphical environment will require that you have much more ram in order to run something like AbiWord, KOffice, or OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice requires 128 MB of ram just to start up.
You will have to use a distribution that can install in limited ram and then run in the same limited ram environment after installation, unless you can get more memory into the case.
There are really too many distributions to be able to tell you "you should run this, and only this, distribution". The choices you have will depend on your hardware and user requirements. There are several good websites that guide new users in choosing a distribution.
Your questions are not dumb. They are necessary. Try this out:
The laptop specs aren't anything to write home about so you'll have to go with one of the light weight distros. Anything running Gnome and KDE would be useless.
Ubuntu is the easiest distribution that I have used and works pretty much out of the box (in my experience), but it uses Gnome and as i said this would put too high a demand on system resources. As an example my FC6 install with Gnome and no programs opened uses about 130MB of RAM.
There is a spin off to the Ubuntu project that uses XFCE as the destop environment which is much easier on system resources, but I'm not sure it's light enough. You can read about this distro from it's web page at http://www.xubuntu.org/.
Another distribution that comes to mind is Damn Small Linux (DSL). It's specificaly designed to run on older systems with minimal CPU / RAM. It's web page is http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/. Also you might want to check out www.distrowatch.com as it lists pretty much all the distros there are that are bieng actively maintained.
As for installing, can you set the BIOS on the laptop to have the CDROM as the first boot device. If so then most Distro's these days make a live CD meaning it will boot into the full OS and you can then install to HDD, or will run their instalation utility. During this you can repartition your HDD for Linux and wipe the Windows partition.
Unlikely that machine can boot directly from cdrom. There are floppies available to help with that part. You could also network install.
damnsmalllinux uses an older kernel which might be a good thing with hardware that old. If this distribution interests you browse their website, many users of older laptops post at their forum.
As others noted, 16MB ram is really the ragged edge for graphics. The least I have used is 32. This wiki entry suggests 16 might be usable http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/i...ans_Install%29
unfortunately the author doesn't state for a certainty that graphics were running on that install. It might be necessary to shut off a few extras and use the jwm window manager.
No ram hungry apps will be possible. Don't forget to create some swap.
edit/ minimum hardware http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/i...e_Requirements
so that ram should be possible, just not very speedy.
This distro is only 50MB but can more software is available through apt-get.
Have some reluctance recommending damnsmall to a new user as it is not the most user friendly or best documented. otoh it's free so nothing to lose but time and a corrupt win95.
And welcome to the forums!
Last edited by muddywaters; 12-30-2006 at 08:30 AM.