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Old 01-14-2004, 09:13 AM   #1
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 168

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Linux on an ancient 386 notebook? Floppy distribution?


I have recently gotten my hands on an ancient Siemens Nixdorf notebook. It has a 386 processor, 3 MB of extended RAM, a 60MB hard drive and no CDROM drive. Currently it runs DOS and Win3.1.

Now I desperately want to install Linux on it but on my search for small distributions, I have only found ones that require a CDROM or ones that are intended for booting a rescue (or similar) system from floppy only.

Is there any hope that I can run a fairly modern Linux (2.4 or 2.2 kernel) on this antique? And are there any distributions that use floppies only and are intended to be installed onto the HDD?

Thanks a lot for any information/hints!
Old 01-14-2004, 09:17 AM   #2
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Registered: Jan 2004
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Okay, I know I'm new here but I have to ask.... I'm thinking of taking up computer programming ..... I know more then the average person, I have a degree in Computer Networking and am A+ certified (very small I know) but all this before the age of 22. I would like to know...

What should I do to prepare myself?

Do I have to be a genius at math?

How will I know if I'm good enough or if I'm ready to hold onto a programming job?

Is there something else in regards to computers that I should know about before starting this?

What is the main thing for me to do in order to get STARTED!

Please I appreciate bluntness and don't get offended, any advise you can give wont go unheard. I'm really serious about this, I'm 21 and always up for a challenge.
Old 01-14-2004, 09:36 AM   #3
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Sunny Southport, again.
Distribution: PCLinuxOS 0.93 and 0.92, Vector sometimes
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So, to reply on topic - have a look at DeLi linux. It is designed to run on old hardware, it's an i386 distro, and it's installed by floppies -
Old 01-14-2004, 09:50 AM   #4
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 168

Original Poster
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Thanks very much, carlywarly! I was starting to give up hope but now I have something to try!

Dream100110: Are you trying to hijack my thread?
Well, I'd say you do not have to be a genius in math but it would certainly help if you are good at analytical thinking and problem-solving as real world problems and solutions for them have to be translated into a logical language that the computer understands and interprets. It also helps if you have some knowledge of how a computer (that is cpu, ram) works in detail. But that depends a bit on what language you want to learn. For example if you want to do C and assembly, you have to know exactly how the cpu, memory, display and so on work. Try getting a book on programming foundations. Decide on what you want to program: applications, drivers, web, ... and ask again in the programming forum about which language(s) might be suitable for what you want to do.

It is not impossible but it certainly is hard work. Think of learning to program as learning a different language. You will have to learn a new vocabulary (syntax), grammar and get used to a new way of thinking.

Ah and I just noticed that you have been crossposting your post in different threads where it is off-topic. Don't be offended but I find this rather rude. Please start your own thread in the appropriate forum, then you'll be more likely to get helpful replies.

Last edited by gundelgauk; 01-14-2004 at 09:53 AM.
Old 01-14-2004, 12:34 PM   #5
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Registered: Apr 2001
Location: Plymouth, England.
Distribution: Debian + Ubuntu
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If your machine has any kind of network interface, or even just a serial port, you may be able to install more than you think! Some distros have the option to install from virtually anywhere, including over a serial line (a null modem cable setup). Take a look at Slackware, too. That has something called "zip slack" that installs into a fat partition (designed to run from zip disks, hence the name).
Old 01-14-2004, 01:23 PM   #6
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 168

Original Poster
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Thanks, I have noticed that too! Really great!

But now I am facing a problem: when I try to boot from any floppy (even different kernels and distros), lilo loads and uncompresses the kernel, the kernel boots and after the hard disk is detected as /dev/hda, the system suddenly does a hard reboot. I don't know what causes this and I am running out of things to try.

Any suggestions? Could it be the lack of ram (only 3MB extended)?


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