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Linux - Laptop and Netbook Having a problem installing or configuring Linux on your laptop? Need help running Linux on your netbook? This forum is for you. This forum is for any topics relating to Linux and either traditional laptops or netbooks (such as the Asus EEE PC, Everex CloudBook or MSI Wind).


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Old 12-15-2004, 07:43 PM   #1
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Registered: Aug 2004
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A small linux distro for my laptop

I have an old laptop ('97 omnibook I think). A while ago I decided that I didn't want Windows on it. So I wiped it, now nothing will install, it won't read CDs from boot (the CD-Rom drive is external on a SCUSI). I need a small linux distro that either runs off a floppy or can be installed from a floppy. Anything will work I don't use this laptop for much.
Old 12-15-2004, 08:02 PM   #2
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Central New York
Distribution: Debian
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You can start a Debian install from floppies, as well as several other distros. Is this an Omnibook 4100 by chance?
Old 12-15-2004, 08:09 PM   #3
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No its an Omnibook 800CT. I'll look into those distros.
Old 12-15-2004, 08:46 PM   #4
Registered: Feb 2004
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No seriously most distros still provide boot flopy images or they boot from a few disks really. They will then install drivers that will allow them to read from the cd drive and BLAM-O .
Old 12-15-2004, 10:04 PM   #5
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I tried a Red Hat boot floppy and I got Invalid System Disk Replace the Disk, and then Press Any Key I think it might be shot. Oh well, thanks for your help though.
Old 12-16-2004, 01:01 PM   #6
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Savannah, GA
Distribution: Mandriva 2008, Vector 5.8 VM
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Most Linux distros have 2 programs; rawrite and rawwritewin. These are tools to enable you to boot your computer from floppy, enable your cd, then install. I've used them on computers that do not have the ability to boot from cd. Instructions on distro specific requirements are usually included in a readme file. Check your boot CD for a folder that says "Dosutils" in either Linux or Windows.
Old 12-16-2004, 06:26 PM   #7
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Pocatello, Idaho, USA
Distribution: Ubuntu
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It's not Linux, but I know an OS that'll run off a floppy that's open-source and has a GUI. It's called MenuetOS. I haven't messed around with it to much but what I do was fun.
Old 12-29-2004, 03:57 AM   #8
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The bios configuration may have been stored on the hard drive, and when you reformatted, may have wiped it off and now nothing will work. Check from the manufacturer if the bios configuration is stored on the hard drive or not.
Old 01-16-2005, 07:00 PM   #9
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Tucson, AZ
Distribution: XUbuntu 12.10, Smoothwall 3
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Re: Small distro

Give some consideration to Damn Small Linux -- fits on a 50 Mb CD (or USB thumbdrive) and can be installed to the laptop hard drive. Many others including Slax (based on SlackWare). Do a Google search for Linux + Small Distribution

Old 01-16-2005, 11:13 PM   #10
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Hong Kong
Distribution: Slackware
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A little note for people planning to install debian to external cdrom laptop:

Correct me if I am wrong, the debian floppy disk use kernel 2.2.x and it's too outdated that some drivers will not work with this old kernel and u would get into trouble installing it. e.g. I have a buffalo pcmcia lan card and it refuses to work in kernel 2.2 so u can't perform network install, and my pcmcia cdrom needed to load a module named ide-cs.o and it was not in the boot session of debian installation so u need to find it from the .iso and explicitly copy it to a floopy hence transferring it to the debian installation session to make cd installation work.

Then I turned into Slackware, load PCMCIA support, copy ide-cs.o from disk#1 of slackware10 and wreck into the laptop, load it, load PCMCIA again, then my external pcmcia cdrom is in /dev/hdd.
Old 01-17-2005, 02:25 AM   #11
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For a small distro, try Peanut Linux .
Old 01-17-2005, 05:23 AM   #12
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Britain
Distribution: Slackware
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Here is a tip: if your omnibook has an Ethernet port onboard (both unlikely?!?!), or a PC card with ethnet on it, then _maybe_ you could boot off slackware bootdisks and mount the CD thru NFS (on another machine).

For me this method works (but it does not on my old Compaq LTE 5000 docking station) not only for installation, but also for backups from my ThinkPad.
Old 01-20-2005, 09:43 AM   #13
Registered: Jan 2005
Distribution: Suse 9.3
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I tried DSL and it works great, therefore I suggest Damn Small Linux, but at the moment I am using Amigo.
Old 01-21-2005, 06:22 PM   #14
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Olsztyn, Poland
Distribution: Debian Squeeze / CentOS 6
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I would say either Slack or ZipSlack ... both possible to install via internet or floppies. There shouldn't be any problems with getting it to work on your (even very old) machine.
Old 01-23-2005, 07:52 PM   #15
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: The next brick house on the right.
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Originally posted by Zeppelin_Fan
I tried a Red Hat boot floppy and I got Invalid System Disk Replace the Disk, and then Press Any Key I think it might be shot. Oh well, thanks for your help though.
The INVALID SYSTEM DISK message comes from the BIOS. It could not find any boot info on the floppy's MBR. The diskette you have is bad.

You can create a boot diskette from most distros as long as you can read the CD. The boot diskette can be created on any PC by using a freshly formatted, preferably brand new diskette. The CD probably has an IMAGES directory containing several "****.img" files, and probably a readme text file. Read the readme file as it will identify the correct ".img" fiel to write to the diskette -- do not copy the ".img" file, it must be written. The CD probably also has a DOSUTILS directory, or something similarly named. There should be a utility such as rawrite.exe or rawritent.exe. If you are using a Windoze machine, then use the appropriate rawrite utility to write the ".img" file to the floppy.

It never hurts to read any/all the readme files on the CD -- they will tell you a lot about getting your Linux distro up and running.


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