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Old 01-01-2007, 09:46 PM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jun 2004
Posts: 8

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Quest for new linux distro for laptop

I've been running Gentoo on my desktop for several years now, but I prefer running a less high-maintenance distribution on my laptop (a Dell Latitude D505 Celeron M).

I originally had Fedora Core 3 on this notebook, but wasn't satisfied with that and eventually replaced it with Ubuntu 6.06.

I recently made the mistake of trying to do an upgrade (not a clean install) to Ubuntu 6.10. This left me with an unusable linux system in which wireless has stopped working, boot options were corrupted (somehow Ubuntu refuses to leave grub configurations untouched), and a variety of other problems developed.

This troublesome upgrade (combined with the fact that I was never able to get a GUI wireless configuration utility to work under Ubuntu) brings me to my current quest for a new distribution. I prefer systems that can be cleanly upgraded without requiring a full re-installation.

I'm thinking of maybe trying a Debian or Debian-based distribution, but haven't decided which one. A Knoppix-based installation sounds promising, but I haven't gotten wireless working under it (LiveCD) yet.

Any suggestions?
Old 01-01-2007, 09:50 PM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: May 2004
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA
Distribution: Debian-Lenny/Sid 32/64 Desktop: Generic AMD64-EVGA 680i Laptop: Generic Intel SIS-AC97
Posts: 4,250

Rep: Reputation: 62
I'd suggest you check out DistroWatch, and pick one that looks good. You have enough experience to get any of the major distros working, your hardware will handle any of them, and any of them is equally good.
Old 01-01-2007, 10:53 PM   #3
Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Townsville, Australia
Distribution: PCLinuxOS .93 Junior
Posts: 437

Rep: Reputation: 30
Try going to and tuxmobil and see what other users have put on your model of laptop.

here are a few personal reccomendation:


Uses KDE desktop, one CD install works both as a live and Install CD. Be wary it is a bit bloated.


This is what PCLinuxOS is based on it is a BIG distrobution with all you will ever need

PCLinuxOS .92

This is the distro I use and recommend, Why because it works right out of the box. No need to configure Everything, everything just works. It also comes as a 1 CD install that is a live CD that you can install later if you wish.


Vector Linux 4.3


Puppy Linux




hope this Helps,

Old 01-01-2007, 11:12 PM   #4
Registered: Oct 2001
Location: KY
Distribution: Simply Mepis 6.0
Posts: 64

Rep: Reputation: 15
Laptop Distro Suggestion

I would like to suggest Mepis Linux for your laptop..

It has great hardware detection, comes with great software, already installed..
It detected my wireless card, etc...

The new version is Ubuntu based, however I stayed with the old version,
that was Debian Based...either are great!

I gave up Mandrake at 9.2 for Mepis and haven't looked back.

Good Luck
Old 01-02-2007, 02:35 AM   #5
LQ Newbie
Registered: Aug 2003
Distribution: Arch
Posts: 18

Rep: Reputation: 0
Short: I recommend trying Frugalware, the DVD version.

Long: I have been on a quest for a decent Linux distro for my laptop for a while as well. I can handle distros like Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Fedora, and SuSE for a while, but I have always wanted to return to Slackware, my desktop favorite. These other distros simply lack the features (or ease of adding features) and speed which I prefer. The official distribution of Slackware doesn't seem to play well with my laptop, so I wanted to try the 64-bit (unofficial) version, Slamd64. That was very nice and fast, and it was very true to my cherished Slackware. However, repositories lack the 64-bit version of things like flash player and open office. I'd rather run either 32-bit or 64-bit, not both. So I started looking at other Slackware-based distributions.

A few weeks ago I was able to get what I needed to install a distro called Frugalware. It is based on Slackware in many ways, but it has also taken some creative license in order to make the distro unique. I dare say that this distro has replaced Slackware as my least in terms of my laptop. It takes a considerably longer amount of time to install than Slackware (nothing compared to a stage 1 gentoo install), but once it's installed, it runs beautifully. It uses the pacman package management system, and it seems to be very effective in its duties. Tons of useful software is available in its repositories, and I have yet to do an upgrade or whatnot that caused problems. I upgraded the kernel with pacman a while back and it even changed my grub bootloader (and booted WITHOUT TWEAKING!!). That was a surprise to me. Pacman also handles dependencies extremely well in my experience.

One thing that I had a problem with was the acpi kernel junk. It appears that it is not compiled into the frugalware kernels, so I recently rolled my own which makes the power management in my laptop run much more effectively than I've ever had it in Linux. There are a few other things, but they're very picky--like icons not appearing the in system tray in KDE. Kopete seems to have problems running without locking up sometimes too. Oh well.

Anyway, Frugalware might be a good option if you're used to the speed of Gentoo

Last edited by wheaties_box; 01-02-2007 at 02:38 AM.
Old 01-02-2007, 04:59 AM   #6
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Greece
Distribution: Debian sid
Posts: 248

Rep: Reputation: 30
For your case, I highly recommend Debian. It is very easy to maintain but unlike other distros, it lets you customize it the way you want and it has a big variety of software, both open source and closed source, just like in gentoo's portage. It is also one of the few distributions that includes mpeg/mp3 support, just like gentoo and it's package management system is very close to portage, but a lot easier!

I was also using gentoo on my laptop a few months ago, but then I decided I wanted something easier and tried suse which was very disappointing as it had many bugs and it's features were too complicated to customize so I tried debian testing and I was surprised. Debian is great!
Old 01-02-2007, 04:59 AM   #7
Registered: May 2004
Location: Italy
Distribution: Ubuntu, Gentoo
Posts: 57

Rep: Reputation: 16
I've always used Debian on my laptop (, but first, I tried booting with a Knoppix.
Old 01-02-2007, 07:29 AM   #8
Registered: Mar 2005
Location: palmdale, california
Distribution: MEPIS 8; Debian (stable/testing)
Posts: 83

Rep: Reputation: 23
Distro Favs

I second! MEPIS is great! Based on ubuntu, uses debian package management KDE by default, lots of
little configuration issues just don't exist w/ MEPIS. I have used most of the Red Hats since 7.2, a couple of Suses and several Ubuntus, etc. I keep coming back to MEPIS.

Originally Posted by shooter
I would like to suggest Mepis Linux for your laptop..

It has great hardware detection, comes with great software, already installed..
It detected my wireless card, etc...

The new version is Ubuntu based, however I stayed with the old version,
that was Debian Based...either are great!

I gave up Mandrake at 9.2 for Mepis and haven't looked back.

Good Luck
Old 01-02-2007, 07:46 AM   #9
LQ Newbie
Registered: Dec 2006
Posts: 1

Rep: Reputation: 0

3rd on mepis 6.0 found everythig on my new toshiba laptop and set it up perfectly.
Old 01-02-2007, 08:40 AM   #10
Senior Member
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Houston, TX (usa)
Distribution: MEPIS, Debian, Knoppix,
Posts: 4,727
Blog Entries: 15

Rep: Reputation: 234Reputation: 234Reputation: 234
Originally Posted by shooter
I gave up Mandrake at 9.2 for Mepis and haven't looked back.

Good Luck
Amen to that!

Originally Posted by shooter
The new version is Ubuntu based, however I stayed with the old version, that was Debian Based
I too continue to use an old ver. of MEPIS, 3.3.2, but only because I need to sort some hardware before I do a fresh install.

I would like to correct "The new version is Ubuntu based", technically Warren used to run his own repositories, until MEPIS 6 when he started using the Ubuntu ones because keeping his own up to date & consistent exceeded his staff & volunteers' resources. In that sense, yes, MEPIS 6 is based on Ubuntu, but it is still its own distro, starting w/ KDE as the default desktop & the super easy installer. In that sense it is NOT "based on Ubuntu".

Hope I'm not being too picky.
Old 01-02-2007, 09:32 AM   #11
LQ Newbie
Registered: Dec 2006
Location: WV
Distribution: MEPIS
Posts: 8

Rep: Reputation: 0
Me too for MEPIS

I have it (SimplyMEPIS) on three laptops. One old Dell one new Dell and a middle aged Averatec and on all three it runs great and detected all my hardware plus has all/most the plugins you need for Firefox and other multimedia apps.

I have the new Beta1 of SimplyMEPIS-32 Version 6.0-4 and it works great/better than 6.0 on my old Dell and the Averatec. Both of which run it as the only OS. Plus it looks better than the 6.0 version.
Old 01-02-2007, 10:19 AM   #12
Registered: May 2005
Posts: 516

Rep: Reputation: 52
PclinuxOS has a nice gui for setting up wireless with ndswrapper. I use it on three laptops - two of which have broadcom wireless. PCLOS upgrades are the most trouble free of any distro I have tried. I still have .92 on my desktop and it has been bulletproof.

Mepis is nice. I'm also trying the new beta and it works well.

Kanotix is nice. Kanotix is very fast on my desktop.
Old 01-02-2007, 03:45 PM   #13
LQ Newbie
Registered: Aug 2005
Location: Roswell, GA
Distribution: suse 9.3
Posts: 1

Rep: Reputation: 0
I have tried & used many of the distros mentioned here, but for me one of the best choices has been Fedora Core 6. This worked out of box, did a great job of hardware detection & has performed without a hitch since installation. Everything I use & needed was in the original install & I haven't looked back. I highly recommend you try it. I am using a fairly old laptop. . . HP Pavilion 5270 with an old Bios installed. I have had no problems. Oh! I did upgrade the HD from 40GB tp 80GB. But that was it! This distro also has software update support too. Which ever you choose. . .good luck!
Old 01-02-2007, 03:57 PM   #14
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2006
Posts: 4

Rep: Reputation: 0
I am using an IBM R32 for work.

I had been using Ubuntu 6.06
was able to do a clean upgrade to 6.10
using xfce desktop -

Like most Linux distros media is a
problem having to hunt around for win32 libraries
and dvd codecs.

I felt even Xubuntu was a bit bloated and having used
Zenwalk 2.8 on an older destop, I thought I would
try Zenwalk4 (Slack based).

It is quick and stable and their policy is
"only have one of everything". It is not bloated
at all.

The only minor hickup in the install was the video card.
Even though it dtected the card ok, I could only get
a low res for the monitor. I simply edited the
/etc/X11/xorg.conf file to manually change the refresh rates
(knowing the monitor could handle it)and the the options to"DPMS"

The only other minor irritation is the reduced number
of printers available - However ppd files are readily available and
just install them when setting up printers.

It's a great distro, not bloated, and media works out of the box.
It uses the xfce desktop, however you can install gnome or kde.I have stayed with xfce although I have used gnome which I don't mind
and kde which I think feels a bit bloated (subjective observation only)
Old 01-02-2007, 04:02 PM   #15
Senior Member
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Houston, TX (usa)
Distribution: MEPIS, Debian, Knoppix,
Posts: 4,727
Blog Entries: 15

Rep: Reputation: 234Reputation: 234Reputation: 234
Let me add that for both political/theological & practical reasons my policy is to stick to Debian based distros: Debian is free & the organization can't be bought out, a la SuSE.

Currently, that's SimplyMEPIS 3.3.2 for the desktop & straight Debian for servers. I no longer own (or particularly want) a laptop (old eyes & fat fingers. ) Still, Debian based is a wide selection. (I won't pad this trying to list all that I am aware of.)

However, if I had a laptop I really loved I would certainly put a non-Debian distro on it rather than use M$. </rant>


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