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I have a Dell Latitude Pentium 2; 266 cpu with 64m ram, 5g hdrive and a belkin wireless g pcmcia........can anyone advise a small distro that would work on this lit'old laptop.? I was wanting something with a desktop.
I have run PIIIs with 256MB with gnome on Fedora, slow but usable. If one would switch to one of the lighter WM (fluxbox, xfc, etc) it would be ok. Once one finds out what memory you need and what the max is, it usually not a big deal to find what is available (ebay is a good bet).
I have a similar laptop with 64megs of RAM and an AMD 300mhz CPU.
I use Debian with IceWM for the window manager.
I'd recommend using IceWM rather than fluxbox since it uses less RAM, is faster, and has a more familiar interface. Here are the basic steps:
1) Do a minimal install. When it gets to the software selection step, DESELECT everything except maybe for "laptop".
2) After the minimal install, log in as root. Use the command "nano /etc/apts/sources.list" and delete the line referencing CD-ROM. If you don't do this, it will ask for you to insert the CD when installing new software, which is annoying.
When this is done, you can log out as root and log back in as a regular user. You get into your GUI with the command "startx".
There are a number of tips and tricks you can use to trim down your system, but you don't strictly need to use them for a system with 64megs of RAM. One of my old laptops only has 32megs of RAM; every bit of saved space helps on that one.
I use Debian 4.0 on all of my machines, including that old laptop. On one of my old laptops, I had no floppy, no CD, no network connections...nothing. I had to remove the hard drive, put it in another machine, and do the install from there.
You might need to do something similar, if you don't have a wired ethernet adapter. I don't think the Debian installer supports wireless during the install.
Hmm...rereading your specs, you mention a Belkin wireless adapter. I've actually been struggling and FAILING to get a USB Belkin wireless adapter to work with Debian 4.0. It's been very frustrating, so much so that I'm almost to the point of reinstalling Ubuntu 7.10. It's slower and kludgier, and I haven't figured out if it's even possible to get the Debian automagic menu working in Ubuntu...but the USB Belkin wireless adapter worked out-of-box.
The standard Ubuntu disc will NOT work with only 64megs of RAM. It just plain won't load up. However, the alternative installer (the Debian installer) should work. Assuming your Belkin PCMCIA wireless adapter doesn't work in Debian 4.0 either, then your better option might be to use Ubuntu 7.10 with the alternative install disc. I'll likely be doing the same within the next few days, so I'll be able to assist.
Note that the Ubuntu alternative installer is just the Debian installer. I think it requires a wired network connection. Or maybe not. Either way, your easiest install option may be to transplant the hard drive and do the initial install on another laptop.
I've installed Debian 4 on several Pentium 133 MMX machines with 32 MB RAM, with xfce for the desktop. I tried putting more memory in the machine but it refused to recognize any larger memory modules. You do have to be a little patient while programs load but once they are open web browsing seems ok, typing a letter is fine.. Checking email isn't an issue.. I guess the point is if you aren't expecting some kind of miraculous performance from old, old, hardware, it can work and be functional.
One of the reasons I chose Debian is that..
well for one it's my Distro of choice.
Two, I can do a base install then add only what I need to keep the system nice and light.
and Three, I still get access to the huge repository of software.
Thanks again Issac
I think I'll try the Ubuntu route and the alternative installer, watch this space and I'll let you know how goes it.
I can tell you before you begin: it's going to be horrible. Your system is nowhere near capable of running recent Ubuntu releases or any of its variations. You might just about run Xubuntu 6.06 if you use the alternate CD to install (installer requires 64 MB RAM) but it will be frustratingly slow in daily use.