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Old 02-21-2012, 05:18 PM   #1
SkyMeadow
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Choosing right distro for old Thinkpad T23


I must post a first question to "unlock the full benefits of my LQ account" so here goes.

I have tentatively selected Slackware without knowing if is supported on old laptop hardware (Thinkpad T23). I still have many not-yet-researched questions about memory requirement, how to preserve my old files and data and make them available to new programs after the OS install, whether to retain the old licensed version of Windows and install dual-boot or trash it hoping it will never be needed again, what about hardware-specific device drivers, support for hibernation (we're off the grid and the house power is off at night), etc. etc.
  1. How do I know which distro is the right one for this machine?

  2. It will be downloaded from a Windows XP/Pro computer. Is there a utility similar to curl for Windows that will resume the download and append to the file after interruptions? FileZilla is on the Windows XP machine; does it have resume features like curl?

  3. How big is the download? Our satellite ISP limits how much we can download during busy daytime hours and will potentially reboot the modem at any time if we exceed some arbitrary administrative quota, even if we're within our daily download allowance.

If we can conquer the first install, then 3 other PCs are also candidates for Linux.

Nothing would please me more than to finally evict the uninvited guest that has been gorging itself on our CPU, memory, disk and time for far too long.

Thank you.

Sky Meadow

Last edited by SkyMeadow; 02-29-2012 at 05:43 PM. Reason: remove irrelevant info from Title
 
Old 02-21-2012, 05:28 PM   #2
snowpine
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Welcome to the forums!

1. Impossible to answer since you have not told us your hardware specs.

2. Torrent software is my preferred method for downloading Linux distros. No problems resuming if the download is interrupted.

3. The Slackware DVD is about 4.4gb to download, you can also purchase it from the Slackware site if bandwidth is an issue.

Last edited by snowpine; 02-21-2012 at 05:29 PM.
 
Old 02-21-2012, 05:36 PM   #3
TroN-0074
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I heard Vector Linux is a really light weigh, also Poppy linux, and Tiny Core are light. Budhi Linux comes to mind. all these are less than 700MB download that you can burn in a CD and boot your laptop from it. They also have tools that you can use to repartition your hard drive to make room for a dual boot with Microsoft or you can dedicate the entire hard drive to linux.
I have a Thinkpad T41. It cant handle the latest desktop manager so I have to stick with a old one or use plain windows manager such as OpenBox, FluBox, E17, etc.

Good luck to you.
 
Old 02-21-2012, 05:46 PM   #4
snowpine
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I just googled your laptop specs, this is a 866mhz-1.2ghz Pentium 3 with 128mb to 1gb RAM and a "supersavage" video card.

More info here: http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Category:T23

I would say this computer is a good candidate for Linux if you plan to use console-only, or a lightweight GUI environment such as LXDE, Fluxbox, etc. It should be OK for light-duty web surfing, word processing, low-stress server tasks, etc. but I wouldn't hold out much hope for gaming, multimedia, etc.
 
Old 02-21-2012, 05:56 PM   #5
SkyMeadow
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1. Hardware specs.
  • CPU = Mobile Intel Pentium III CPU-M 1133 MHz
  • Mem = 1.13 GHz, 256 MB RAM
  • Disk = 26.9 GB, 11.5 GB used + 11.2 GB free. Not partitioned.
  • Display = 1024x768 LCD, S3 Graphics SuperSavage/IXC adapter, currently using 16 bit color, supports 32 bit color.
  • Hardware Clock = Internal clock battery is shot, loses time when powered off, but when it completely forgets the time, the BIOS prompts me to enter the date/time during boot. Sometimes after powering on, the HW clock is 10 minutes late or worse, without prompting for date/time input. I try to fix the time right away, but it might cause problems for some apps.
  • Battery = Laptop main battery is shot, this PC only works on outlet power
  • DVD = DVD/CD-R drive
  • Keyboard = integral laptop keyboard with some special function keys
  • Pointing = integral Thinkpad TrackPoint
  • Ports = serial, USB, ethernet, dialup (unused), parallel (unused)
  • OS = MS Windows XP Professional v2002 SP 3 currently installed but eating up the limited memory/CPU
  • I don't care about printer support on this machine.
I use this laptop for mainly for ham radio (rig control and logging) and a few other things. It mainly serves as a backup in case one of other laptops has issues.

Thank you.

Sky

Last edited by SkyMeadow; 02-21-2012 at 06:02 PM.
 
Old 02-21-2012, 07:25 PM   #6
ukiuki
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Since you have really small amount of RAM you have to think lightweight for that machine, so smaller the better, every software have to be lightweight to increase overall performance, here one distribution that might interest to you. Slitaz it is only 30Mb to download has very small memory footprint and will run really fast on that machine. Other lightweight distros are Puppy the download is about 130Mb, Tinycore is another one, super lightweight distro only 12Mb to download there is also 2 other options for Tinycore one with 64Mb and one with only 8Mb(but only recommended for experienced Linux users) you will see more details at the download page.
Add more RAM to that computer is a really good idea if you can find it to buy.
About the your data, with Slitaz you can boot it from a live CD, it have gparted a software that you can resize your Windows partition create new partition(s) to copy your data over. It is a good idea to do a disk clean and then defrag before resizing partitions make sure all data in the Windows partition goes to the begin of the disk.
I hope this helps.

Regards
 
Old 02-21-2012, 07:35 PM   #7
snowpine
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I agree a good first step is to test-drive the lighter distributions (SliTaz, TinyCore, Puppy) as Live CD's.
 
Old 02-21-2012, 08:35 PM   #8
craigevil
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
I agree a good first step is to test-drive the lighter distributions (SliTaz, TinyCore, Puppy) as Live CD's.
BS, go with either AntiX, Debian or Slackware with a lightweight window manager and you will be just fine.

New puppy is Ubuntu based so it is Not lightweight. SliTax, Tinycore will both be a pain to get working.

AntiX would probably be the best choice.
Main Page - antiX : http://antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page
Quote:
antiX is a fast, lightweight and easy to install linux live CD distribution based on Debian Testing and MEPIS for Intel-AMD x86 compatible systems. antiX offers users the "Magic of Mepis" in an environment suitable for old computers. So don't throw away that old computer yet! The goal of antiX is to provide a light, but fully functional and flexible free operating system for both newcomers and experienced users of Linux. It should run on most computers, ranging from 64MB old PII 266 systems with pre-configured 128MB swap to the latest powerful boxes. 128MB RAM is recommended minimum for antiX. The installer needs minimum 2.2GB hard disk size. antiX can also be used as a fast-booting rescue cd.
 
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Old 02-21-2012, 10:11 PM   #9
SkyMeadow
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Well it's nice(?) to know there are strong differences of opinion among those more expert than myself :-)

Puppy and AntiX look scary. And I'm a retired software engineer (but not a S/W developer) who worked ~25 years in the industry.

Having little prior Linux exposure, the list of all the apps packaged with different distros is quite intimidating since I have no idea what each of them is or does.

What does "lightweight window manager" mean (please give example and explain what functionality it provides, as compared with "heavy window manager").

The user reviews for Slackware were extraordinarily positive and thus my heart is leaning in that direction.

Adding memory on that laptop may or may not be possible. It has 2 x 128MB now and could support 2 x 512MB but those PC133 DIMMs are obsolete and not as cheap as one would expect.

Thank you all for the many informative replies, so far.

Sky
 
Old 02-22-2012, 08:30 AM   #10
ukiuki
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About Window Managers(WM) and Desktop Environment(DE) those are two different things in MS Windows what we have is a DE so you are used to DE, basically they offer more resources and functionality like having icons and folders in the desktop but those are RAM eater and really drop the performance if the amount of RAM is low.
Now WM, they are all pretty much simple and don't have all the things DE offer but they are way faster use small amount of memory leaving it for other applications. Still some WM can be modified and turn into a DE like OpenBox but then there goes the RAM, Lxde is nothing else but OpenBox with modules on top of it, there you can find more about DE and WM. http://xwinman.org
I personally like WM, my favorites are BlackBox, Fluxbox, Openbox, Wmii, Window Maker.

Regards

Last edited by ukiuki; 02-22-2012 at 08:38 PM.
 
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:16 AM   #11
SkyMeadow
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Oh, you mean Window Managers for X -- xwinman.org
(no such website xwingman.org)
OK, that will be my next reading assignment for today.

Thanks a bunch.

Sky
 
Old 02-22-2012, 10:21 AM   #12
DavidMcCann
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I was using my Thinkpad X31 earlier today, with Salix.

Salix and Vector are both Slackware derivatives, stable and reliable, and you only need to download a CD. The standard versions with Xfce would work in 256MB, but that is a bare minimum. Better would be Salix with LXDE or Fluxbox, or Vector Light with Icewm, both of which work in 128MB.

Other possibilities would be AntiX or WattOS, both with a CD installer. Antix is simply Mepis with Icewm; it has a minimum requirement of only 64MB. WattOS is Ubuntu (Long-term support version) with LXDE (making a better job of it than Lubuntu), requiring 192MB.
 
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Old 02-22-2012, 08:39 PM   #13
ukiuki
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Oops i miss spelled, now: http://xwinman.org

Regards
 
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Old 02-22-2012, 09:05 PM   #14
TroN-0074
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Dude. Slackware is great, and I think its greatness is the reason why is one of the oldest Linux distributions out there. However you need to know that to use SlackWare you need to be really comfortable using the command line. Using Slackware terminal is the every day tool that will let you manipulate your computer 100%
Updating packages and installing applications is all done with the command line, so it is great if you are in for a full learning experience. Install SlackWare with FluxBox, as graphical interface.

A Desktop Manager such as KDE will eat out resources (CPU and RAM) in your computer to the point that you will no be able to open a file or anything.
I have to say though KDE & Gnome are really handsome Desktop Managers that you should try if you ever consider installing an UNIX like OS in a newer computer.

Good luck to you.
 
Old 02-22-2012, 09:23 PM   #15
SkyMeadow
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Sky thanks you. She's in the process of downloading Salix + Xfce, live CD version for 486, 32-bit instruction set. Torrents are totally new to her and she likes the control they are giving her over bandwidth consumption (uTorrent client for Windows chosen, seems to be working in trouble-free manner).

Whether I'll be comfortable enough with the command line is TBD. I was pretty good with MS-DOS 3.2 a L-O-N-G time ago and in recent years have installed some unix packages on a web server. Windows makes people lazy but when we give up responsibility for important tools in our lives, we also give up our freedom. I don't like that so there is some motivation.

Whether Xfce is too big for comfort is also TBD. After all, Windows XP Professional bloatware + Norton Antivirus ran on that machine ... albeit in cramped fashion with careful management of what apps were allowed to run concurrently.

First run from a live CD will be a test drive to make sure I and that old T23 can handle the whole process from selection to download to burning a CD to following the directions after booting the CD.

Then we can make refinements like switching to Fluxbox or other WM if needed, and I expect there will be some refinements needed.

I really appreciate the responsive and friendly support and advice you folks are providing here. Without your help, this would probably not be happening.

Best wishes to all,

Sky
 
  


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