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Old 11-15-2009, 05:24 PM   #1
TheStarLion
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Thinking of changing distro, with a small problem


Small probably being a bit of an understatement.
To put it simply, Karmic has left a bad taste, and I'm looking to go away from the Debian and Debian based Distros into others. So far, I've had suggestions of Fedora, Arch and Gentoo.

The problem is this. The PC I want to change the distro on is an old Dell Latitude C400, where the single USB port has long since ceased to function (Hardware problem, not software), the ethernet port is... unreliable at best, and with no drives for external media, the wireless pcmcia card plugged almost permanently into the card slot is the only way for things to get in and out.

Which presents the problem that, with only a single partition on it's 20GB hard drive - representing the entire space available on it, less the swap space - in order to put something new on, I have to mount it and booting up Karmic.

Now, the Ubuntu support channel suggested using UNetbootin, which didn't help - the partition's still mounted, just differently. What I need is a way to replace Karmic, so I can install, say for example, Fedora - I haven't actually decided yet, Gentoo is most likely ATM - over the top - keeping my home folder and settings etc, but losing Ubuntu.

I have a sneaking suspicion that short of sending my laptop off to get the USB properly repaired, this isn't possible, or at the very least easy - but I'm hoping there's a way nonetheless.

Also, slightly related - if anyone can find something that helps decide which distro to use, go ahead and suggest it. The multitude of choices is the only real problem I have with Linux.

Thanks to any who can help,
TSL.

PS: yes, I know it's ancient, and I really should get a new laptop. I don't care though. I like this one, despite it's troubles.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 05:31 PM   #2
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For the distro problem I suggest Slackware. It very very customizable to run on older machines. Packages are handled easily and with minimal dependency problems.

For the other problems you are having go make a boot up disc of slax. you can get it here http://www.slax.org. Get the Gparted module and load it. This will also give you a glimpse of how slackware works as it is a live disc.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 05:51 PM   #3
TheStarLion
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You'll have to forgive me if I seem a little ignorant here, but I was under the impression gparted was the partition editor? Which presents the problem that it cannot work with the partition, because it's running from it?
Or am I, as usual, missing something?

Thanks for the recommendation though, I'll definatly give Slackware a look in too.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 05:55 PM   #4
repo
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Quote:
To put it simply, Karmic has left a bad taste, and I'm looking to go away from the Debian and Debian based Distros into others. So far, I've had suggestions of Fedora, Arch and Gentoo.
Ubuntu is debian based.
Don't blame debian if ubuntu sucks.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 05:56 PM   #5
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It is a partition editor but if you boot off the slax cd youare running off that cd. If you do not have a cd on the laptop you can network to a comp that does and use slax a pxe server to fix the laptop.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 05:57 PM   #6
TheStarLion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by repo View Post
Ubuntu is debian based.
Don't blame debian if ubuntu sucks.
I am aware of that, thank you. I've tried Debian as well, I have my own entire subset of issues with them, but that's beside the point. Both Debian and Ubuntu have given me issues, that's why I'm trying to change, hence how I found the problem I described originally.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 06:00 PM   #7
TheStarLion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuroraZero View Post
It is a partition editor but if you boot off the slax cd youare running off that cd. If you do not have a cd on the laptop you can network to a comp that does and use slax a pxe server to fix the laptop.
Aha, now I've got a problem for you even with that - you're right, there's no CD drive - the only drive the laptop has is the hard drive.
The problem now, is how do you get a wireless pcmcia, or however it's spelled, card which has to use ndiswrapper in Karmic to work, to function before Karmic gets to boot so I can do that?
 
Old 11-15-2009, 06:06 PM   #8
AuroraZero
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LOL you are just full of surprises aren't you? How did you get Ubuntu on this machine in the first place? Does it have an eth port?
 
Old 11-15-2009, 06:17 PM   #9
TheStarLion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuroraZero View Post
LOL you are just full of surprises aren't you? How did you get Ubuntu on this machine in the first place? Does it have an eth port?
I know, it's terrible how I do this to people, isn't it?
The original Ubuntu I put on was through the then working USB port, not long after Ubuntu Hardy was released. Coincidentally, it wasn't long after then that the port ceased working, and has since caused more trouble than it did when it worked...
As to the ethernet port, it is there, but I wouldn't trust it to transfer anything I couldn't conveniently fit on a floppy disk because of it's unreliability. It's been like that since before I got rid of the old WinXP that used to be on there.

I have a feeling this old laptop's pretty much stuck as it is when you tot up all the hardware problems with it, but I thought I'd ask just to see if someone could come up with something - it'd be nice to try something different on it for a change.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 06:31 PM   #10
AuroraZero
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hmmm do not fret this can still be done I believe. Two ways off the top of my head are one go to e-bay and see if you can pick up a pcmcia ext cdrom. Second choice go get an adapter that changes the 2.5" PATA to 3.5" PATA and then put the hard drive into a desktop to load what you need. The second choice is the cheaper way to go. I have this before and works quite well actually. Both ways cost some cash but not as much as sending it in to be fixed or having it fixed at a comp shop. I would suggest the second way as it will probably be the cheaper way and save the laptop for a few more years. Also when you are done with it you can take the drive and install it into a desktop which is kinda cool.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 06:36 PM   #11
TheStarLion
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Ah, I see... thanks, that's a big help, and more of a solution than I had before! I'll keep an eye out for both, but I think I'll take your advice and try for the second one, if this old relic dies entirely, it means I can still nab all my stuff off it.
 
Old 11-15-2009, 06:39 PM   #12
AuroraZero
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An added bonus
 
Old 11-20-2009, 07:23 AM   #13
TheStarLion
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Sigh, it seems it's time I revived this thread already, and be a pain once more.
You're right, it's definatly a less expensive solution going for trying to connect the hard drive to a desktop PC, but I've found another problem (I've really got to stop doing this).

It's not a normal laptop hard drive, as far as I can tell - that is, I went looking, and found the 2.5 to 3.5 adapter... but the laptop's hard drive doesn't plug into it.

The plug part that connects it to the laptop, looks more like the part of any PCI card that plugs into the slot itself, whereas the adapters all seem to work on a kind of reduced in size IDE set of plugs.

There's also, to the right of it, 4 pins, like those used to set master/slave on a normal HD, but there doesn't seem to be anything in the bay that connects to them, so I assume they're unused.

Here's hoping I might be able to finally stop being a pest with this topic...
 
Old 11-20-2009, 08:24 AM   #14
pixellany
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Perhaps not what you wanted to hear, but....

If you value your time, the best solution is a new(er) laptop. Consider this: If it has HW trouble with both the USB and the ethernet, then more HW problems may be imminent. You can quickly find yourself discovering a new problem for every one that you solve.
 
Old 11-20-2009, 08:26 AM   #15
TheStarLion
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Certainly - if I could afford it.
I would like a new laptop, one with a DVD drive, with more than one USB port, and without Windows preinstalled.
But I don't have the funds to get one, so I'm trying to fix this old one.

Now, back to the problem at hand - is there such an adapter for a hard drive like the one I described?
(Meant to be a pic of it too, but both Ubuntu and Windows refuse to work with the digital camera)
 
  


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