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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 11-30-2008, 08:02 PM   #1
Zippy1970
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Please help me pick a distro for my old Pentium 233MHz notebook


I kinda like those small netbooks you can get nowadays. Whenever I travel, I take my PDA with me to check my email and browse the internet when I'm bored. But even at 640x480, it's pretty tedious on a 2.8" screen.

So I was thinking about getting one of those netbooks, like the Asus Eee, MSI Wind, or Acer Aspire One. But then I remembered I had a Fujitsu Lifebook B110 collecting dust somewhere. Mind you, this is a notebook that's even smaller than an Eee. But it's old. Actually, it's ancient.

Currently it's running Windows 98SE. But I don't like Win98SE much. I'd much rather have Linux running on it. But I seriously have no clue what distro would be best for a notebook with such low specs. Speaking of which, here they are:
  • Pentium/233 MMX
  • 512Kb of cache
  • 160Mb SDRAM (128Mb + 32Mb)
  • Intel 430TX chipset
  • 3.2Gb hard disk
  • 2Mb NeoMagic 2160 graphics
  • 8.4in SVGA TFT screen (800x600)
  • ESS1879S audio
  • internal stereo speakers
  • 1x Type II PC Card slot
  • infrared serial port
  • 2x USB port
  • lithium ion battery
  • Dimensions: 9" x 6.7" x 1.1" (W x D x H)
  • Weight: 2.4lbs

I would like to be able to at least run Firefox and OpenOffice. I'm pretty sure the notebook is way too slow to view DivX/XviD movies, but if it was somehow possible, that would be great.

So what distro would be best for this notebook? Or is it just too old and too slow to do anything with it?

PS: I have a PCMCIA NIC for it.
 
Old 11-30-2008, 08:57 PM   #2
Lord Ghost
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I'd give xubuntu a try, it's designed for systems with <192mb of ram, has a small footprint, still gives you a great GUI and all the nice modern programs.

Should actually get out of it's own way on a 233Mhz.



Cheers,
Ghost
 
Old 11-30-2008, 08:59 PM   #3
Earl Parker II
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I have found that Slackware will run on just about anything, though I can't personally vouch for compatibility with your graphics and NIC. Slackware 12.1 comes with Firefox 2.0.xx and you can get OpenOffice from www.linuxpackages.net- it should install no problem.

With those specs desktop performance will be a little slow so you might try XFCE.
 
Old 11-30-2008, 09:19 PM   #4
{BBI}Nexus{BBI}
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MacPuppy runs very fast on old hardware. It's also very simple to setup and will run as a 'Live' cd.
 
Old 11-30-2008, 10:51 PM   #5
Saptech
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I was able to do a Debian netinst (a minimum basic) on an old IBM Thinkpad with just about the same specs as yours. It had 96mb of memory though. Once I got the basic installed, I added X11 and Fluxbox WM. It ran faster than Win 98, it was a dual boot setup.
 
Old 11-30-2008, 11:00 PM   #6
mmmichael
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Debian would run well with either xfce or fluxbox window managers.
Zenwalk should do fine with xfce or e17. Note that both distros call firefox "iceweasel", and Zenwalk uses abiword by default but openoffice is in the repos.
 
Old 11-30-2008, 11:04 PM   #7
peregrine2
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antiX

Zippy1970,

Check out antiX. It is a version of MEPIS that was developed for older hardware. http://www.mepiscommunity.org/en/mepiseditions
 
Old 11-30-2008, 11:04 PM   #8
dj_segfailt
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I like Knoppix for low end machines. You can run it off the livecd to make sure everything works, then install it if you like it.
http://www.knoppix.net/

For *really* low end systems where you don't need full functionality, I use Damn Small Linux
http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/
 
Old 12-01-2008, 12:48 AM   #9
r-t
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FreeBSD

Not strictly Linux but:

Quote:
Both FreeBSD/i386 and FreeBSD/pc98 require a 486 or better processor and at least 24 MB of RAM
http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO...-hardware.html

With Gnome it takes up only 2+GB of hard-drive – with XFce that should be less. Both OpenOffice and Firefox are in the repositories.

Last edited by r-t; 12-01-2008 at 01:10 AM.
 
Old 12-01-2008, 04:21 AM   #10
imcal101
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I suggest since it does have USB, load SuSE 9.0 the only catch you can't watch media DVD on anything less than a 333Mhz machine.
 
Old 12-01-2008, 04:25 AM   #11
Zippy1970
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Wow, thank you all for your responses!

I was kinda expecting to get responses like "Pentium 233MHz with 192MB SDRAM? Are you kidding me?" or "Throw your B110 in the trash - you won't be able to run any modern OS on a machine with those specs".

As soon as I figure out a way to do any install on this notebook (no CD Drive, no boot from USB capabilities, only a Floppy Drive and a PCMCIA NIC), I will give all your suggestions a try!

Thanks again!

Last edited by Zippy1970; 12-01-2008 at 04:27 AM.
 
Old 12-01-2008, 06:26 AM   #12
programmingjunk
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Gentoo

You might also try gentoo. It has the ability to install from a network so you would not need a CD drive. Also it compiles small and fast.
 
Old 12-01-2008, 06:31 AM   #13
nemarona
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You might want to try Fluxbuntu as well. Not an official Ubuntu project, it uses the Fluxbox graphic environment.
 
Old 12-01-2008, 06:40 AM   #14
3daurora
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zippy1970 View Post
Wow, thank you all for your responses!

I was kinda expecting to get responses like "Pentium 233MHz with 192MB SDRAM? Are you kidding me?" or "Throw your B110 in the trash - you won't be able to run any modern OS on a machine with those specs".

As soon as I figure out a way to do any install on this notebook (no CD Drive, no boot from USB capabilities, only a Floppy Drive and a PCMCIA NIC), I will give all your suggestions a try!

Thanks again!
My guess is that you would need to do a Network install.
Personally I would use either Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux, but I am not sure if they are network-installable.
Fluxbuntu also uses minimal resources, but I am not sure if they are up to date, as when I last downloaded it recently, they were still in 7.10. But it probably updates itself to a more recent version.
The good thing about Linux is that it can run on pretty old hardware.
 
Old 12-01-2008, 09:06 AM   #15
dreamcarrior
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zippy1970 View Post
Wow, thank you all for your responses!

I was kinda expecting to get responses like "Pentium 233MHz with 192MB SDRAM? Are you kidding me?" or "Throw your B110 in the trash - you won't be able to run any modern OS on a machine with those specs".

As soon as I figure out a way to do any install on this notebook (no CD Drive, no boot from USB capabilities, only a Floppy Drive and a PCMCIA NIC), I will give all your suggestions a try!

Thanks again!
I would say the easiest way is to install the OS (such as Damn Small Linux) from another computer and then you are all set.

So you will remove the harddrive, and copy the necessary files into the harddrive, then set up the boot parameters, for example, grub or liio or DOS. Put the harddrive back to your notebook and then make a final configuration.

Alternatively, boot up your notebook with a DOS floppy disk which has USB and CD-ROM drivers (I have some images that I can send to you), then you can copy necessary system files to your harddrive through CD-ROM and then install from there.

But it all depends on which distro you would like to run. I have a friend having the similar configuration and run SuSE 10 (I configured it for her). Although it is a very heavy distro, the computer still runs it fine only being a little slow.
 
  


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