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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 09-19-2006, 06:47 PM   #1
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Registered: Sep 2006
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Hello ; Best distro for old laptop

Hi, I am new to the forum and to linux. I'm a carpenter from Iowa and am interested in open source software, and free interaction between people in general. I run FreeBSD on my 400mhz desktop at home, but I don't have an internet connection so it's basically a juke box.

My friend just gave me an old thinkpad 770z with; 128mb ram, DVD drive, and PCMCIA wireless. It runs/hobbles windows 98 now and I would like to switch it to Linux, but I'm not sure wich distro to go with. I want to get my wireless connection up and running quickly so I can get help with the rest of my setup. after that I'd like to squeeze all the utility I can out of it and do things like play DVDs, run GIMP, etc. I prefer running things from the console and using BlackBox as my window manager. Slackware sounds alright, but I'm worried about needing a bunch of info before I get my wireless running and I have a free software n00b friend that wants to help, and I'd rather not scare him off. Thanks for any help you can give me.
Old 09-19-2006, 10:37 PM   #2
Registered: May 2004
Location: Ohio, USA
Distribution: LinuxMint Gloria, Ubuntu 9.10
Posts: 299

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The most difficult part of any Linux install is getting the wireless to work. I don't have any direct experience with IBM's, but I hear they have few problems adapting to Linux. Since you'll be using a pcmcia card for your wireless, you'll want to get the memory addresses that your pcmcia slots use, and copy this info to your /etc/pcmcia/config.opts file. This way, you'll avoid conflicts with these addresses later. Under windows 98, as I recall, you can get the addresses from the start>settings>system>hardware... from there, I forget, but poke around until you can find a list of the hardware on the laptop and can right-click on the pcmcia slots, and it'll give you a list of memory addresses like 0xc0000-0xfffff, 0xa0000000-0xa0ffffff, 0x60000000-0x60ffffff. Copy this down somewhere and keep it handy.

As for the main gist of your inquiry, I think Debian is fine - if you have access to install it over the net. You can also get Ubuntu cd's for free to install. Fedora Core 5 is quite a large install. Slackware is okay, but be prepared to do everything by hand after the initial install - lots of editing .config files by hand.

One of the handiest applications I've come across is NetworkManager. It works great in Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora. Slackware doesn't give you much of a choice in desktops - you better like fvwm or kde. I like Gnome, so I've left Slackware in the past - I fiddle with it now and then by slipping another hard drive in my laptop with a Slackware installation on it.
Old 09-19-2006, 11:06 PM   #3
Registered: Jul 2006
Location: Lubbock, Tx.
Distribution: Ubuntu Dapper Drake
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also, maybe check out a knoppix live cd too. just to taste it. fedora core and ubuntu are both great distros which should run fairly decent on you machine. granted i'm not sure what the minimum memory is for either though. hope this helps and good luck.
Old 09-19-2006, 11:24 PM   #4
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Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Boise, ID
Distribution: Mint
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Welcome to LQ and Go Big 10!

Anyway the "which distro should I use?" question is asked all the time, and there is no real right or wrong answer. The best thing to do will be to try several, then decide for yourself which one seems to best fit your needs and preferences. Check out the LQ ISO for many of the most popular distros, which are all available for free download. Have fun
Old 09-19-2006, 11:33 PM   #5
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Registered: Jun 2006
Location: Minnesota
Distribution: openSUSE 11.2
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I'm an electrician from Minnesota, I was handed an IBM thinkpad iSeries with a 500mhz prosesser. I installed Slackware and got my PCMCIA card up and running with ndiswrapper. Slackware works great on my laptop & configuring it wasn't too bad at all. I was new to linux and I've learned alot with Slack. I'm running KDE and the preformance is ok. Blackbox is really fast.
Go for it. If you don't like it try another distro.
The forums here are great and the people are really helpful. Enjoy your Linux.


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