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I'm considering converting my KDS Thinnote laptop to Linux since Windows XP absolutely fails every three months or so. I've download several live CDs to try out different versions...but NONE of them will work on my little barebones KDS (128 meg ram, 20 gig hard drive.)
I only use it to browse the Internet via my home's wireless network (w/ a Netgear wireless adapter) and occasionally write something for work w/ Open Office, but would love to be able to exist without any Microsoft products on it.
1. If a live CD fails to work, is that a good indication that a normal install would also be a problem?
2. Which distribution (if any) will I be able to use my Netgear wireless adapter with? (Remember, I don't need tons of stuff...just the basics with a graphic interface)
3. Has anyone successfully installed Linus on a KDS computer?
4. Since my external USB 1.0 CD drive is so slow, is there any way to just download the installation program to the hard drive and let it do its thing?
Sorry for the real basic questions, but I gotta start somewhere.
I don't have answers to all your questions, but maybe I can point you in the wrong direction. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to install/run a linux distro on the system you mentioned. However, you may have troubles with the wireless adapter. It seems to be an issue with alot of folks. I've never tried one myself. When you said none of the live distros work, what exactly did you mean? Did it not boot up? Did it boot up and then lock up at some point? As for a distro to choose, you'll get a bazillion different answers on that. Everyone has a favorite, you'll find your's after a while. Installing a distro can be done several ways. Some people prefer an FTP method, some prefer a CD install, some prefer a DVD. It's really up to you how you want to go about it. One last thing; welcome to Linux!
I haven't used many distro's, however SuSE comes with a nice system management tool called YaST. You will probably liken it to Windows control panel. As far as wireless you should do some searching around this site and google with the specific model you use. The compatibility is dependent upon the chipset of the card you're using. I would say chances are you'll have to do some tweaking in config files. I didn't find it hard to get mine to work, but yours may be different.
I would make one small suggestion though, and some people may offer different, but you may consider simply getting another 128Meg of RAM for that. You don't have too, but memory prices have come down so much. You can probably find 128 or even 256 for under $50.
Give Puppy Linux or SLAX Linux Live a try, either will run on a system with little resources. Both are LIVECDs. If you want to install a low resource Linux distro Slackware or Debian are the way to go.
The only bootable devices on a KDS Thinnote are the internal hard drive and the external USB CDROM. I've been trying to load the linux setup from CD by booting up with the CD in the drive. Unfortunately, the only way to prevent the setup program from locking up when it tries to load the usb storage drivers during the very beginning of the setup ( on ALL live CDs I've tried) is to disable the "legacy USB support" in the BIOS. The problem is when you do this the CDROM is no longer a bootable device so I can't boot into the linux setup program.
Are all of these live CD versions available in a non-live format? In other words, I don't care if I wipe out my Windows XP in installing. I know I'm probably going to have a heck of time getting my wireless network card working, but that actually kinda sounds like fun. And one things for sure: I figured out that all those pioneers from the olden days of computers...those guys who love to help others and enjoy the intellectual challenges of figuring out how things tick...have relocated to the Linux world.
Have you considered installing it from a partition on the hard drive? You could copy over the required files from the CD, boot up with DOS and install from the partition.
I had to do this with a desktop that didn't have a bootable CD. For that I used Vector Linux, but I would think any of them would allow this. Vector has the instructions for this in their Installation Guide, just scroll down to section 4.4.
To follow up on Fritz_Monroe’s comment, you can usually load linux distributions through a network (i.e., internet and/or LAN based). Usually, the installation starts by booting from a floppy or CD. When you don't have a floppy, anything that can be written to a floppy can be written to a USB flash drive, which can be used to start the installation process.
You can also pull the drive, load linux onto it using a different computer and then move it back to you laptop. In the case of RedHat variants, kudzu will usually detect and reconfigure the hardware setup to match your laptop’s hardware on the first boot. There are fairly cheap IDE adapters for laptop drives that allow you to connect them to desktop IDE controllers.