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First day I just tried Knoppix, which can just run from a CD as a demo without installing anything. It would not initialize on my old machine which has 96MB RAM. Well it suggested creating a swap partition, which is a bit beyond me at the moment!
I have also got Mandrake 9.2 here on 3 x CDs, I'll see if how that goes. Am only experimenting on the old PC (£20 on ebay) as I don't want to mess up my "state of the art" Windows machine.
It is a Compaq Deskpro 4000 BTW, which I gather has a proprietary BIOS. Is that likely to cause problems? So far I have not managed to access its BIOS by tapping the most likely keys at start-up. It has W95 installed but only a 2.5gig HD.
If you want to run Knoppix (or, to be honest, I'd recommend Morphix which is far more polished IMHO) just stick it on your state of the art machine. It will not touch your existing install and is entirely safe.
If by "messing up" a machine you mean accidentally deleting the partition with windows on it, yes, linux could do that if installed improperly. A reinstall of windoze would fix that problem, just be sure to backup your data.
If by "messing up" a machine you anticipate sparks flying, cpu meltdowns, and exploding hard disks... well, I've never seen that happen before. It is unlikely that linux with physically damage your machine.
Well, to the best of my knowledge, the problem with LG cdrom drives wasn't because of mandrake, but the actual firmware that LG had been using in SOME of the cdrom drives - and as far as I've read/seen they released a firmware update to fix the problem.
Hence if you search for the problem/result/fix first and sort that, IF it applies to the cdrom drive (and I'm pretty sure it was only cdrom drives, not cdrw or dvdrom/rw), then just do a normal install of mandrake on the "state of the arse" windows machine. Mandrake should either find any free space or suggest where to install.
If your "old" computer is as antiquated as you suggest, then you aren't really going to have much of a "linux experience" with it, because it will probably struggle like hell with mandrake when used with, well say KDE, which is the default with mandrake.
And if you're a "mega n00b" then you ain't gonna want to jump straight into CLI. You'd get really pissed off with that, very quickly. It may be that linux is a very powerful OS if used properly from the command line, but it's boring as hell, if you have to boot back into windows to find commands all the time.
Put the mandrake on the main windows machine (if you make sure that you've got either proper windows disc's or even a recovery disc should do), then as long as you don't tell mandrake to format the entire hard drive, you shouldn't have a problem. That get's you up and running. You can browse with konqueror, and then start to understand the similarities from a user point of view between windows gui and a linux gui.
It's up to you. If as I mentioned, you have a windows disc, the the worst case scenario is having to reinstall windows - wow, that would be like about an hour of your life wasted. You've got nothing to loose
p.s. Oh and if you go for it, don't dump the old machine, either network it, or better still, when you've got your head round linux a little, learn about how to turn it into a hardware firewall/router/whatever - there's plenty of stuff available about doing that. You're already half way there, you've found LQ!
Originally posted by bigjohn Well, to the best of my knowledge, the problem with LG cdrom drives wasn't because of mandrake, but the actual firmware that LG had been using in SOME of the cdrom drives - and as far as I've read/seen they released a firmware update to fix the problem.
That's what I said It's not Mandrake's fault! And of course it's because cheap, mutated, ugly firmware.
On old Compaq Deskpro's they used to use F1 also. Try F1 or F2. Also, the BIOS may be gone. Compaq used to store the "BIOS" as they say on the first 24MB of the hard drive. So if you or someone else have fdisk'ed and deleted everything then it could be gone. If that's the case you can download compaq system bios or diags disks and recreate that partition on the hard drive. I have worked with compaq boxes at my job for about 3 years now. Good stuff but sometimes they way Compaq does stuff is stupid.
Also, Is it a tower? Because if it is, here are a few links about running Linux on a compaq deskpro 4000.
There can be problems with the S3 Virge chip for the Graphics card.
Have just tried Knoppix on 3 systems. One was a P90 with only 32Meg.
Took a while ... bit over an hour to boot
So 96 Meg should be fine. When it asks to set up a swap, it is as a *file* on one of your hard drive partitions - KNOPPIX.SWP.
Let it do it, you can just go to Windows later and delete it.
I was unable to get a (serial) mouse working on this old system in X. Same mouse works with Knoppix on another system, and the mouse is recognised on boot.
Also as suggested, you can try the CD on a decent system - if you have enough memory, it won't attempt to allocate the swp file. On a 128 Meg system it no longer wanted to allocate the swap.
Once you manage to successfully cut up your hard disk into partitions, there is almost no risk of Linux killing your Windows PC.
If you have the $$$, buy Partition Magic. If not, use the command-line "parted" utility which I think is on the first Mandrake CD. Just type linux rescue at the CD boot menu and follow the instructions.
parted will let you resize the "vfat" partition that makes up the Windows portion of the hard disk. What I did was tell "parted" to shrink my Windows partition from 80 GB to 60 GB and leave 20 GB as my Linux "ext3" partition.
Then I rebooted with my Mandrake CD and told it to format ONLY the ext3 partition and install into there. Everything runs fine now
I have some old Deskpro's, one of them is a 4000 if i remember correctly. To acces bios you need to have a special partiton with installed software or use a boot floppy that are available on Compaq's support site.