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Old 09-01-2009, 05:19 PM   #1
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Converting an HP windows box to linux, pointers needed...

Hello Group,

I've just had an HP Pavilion 533 come into my possession and I'd like to convert it to a linux box so I can begin the adventure of learning about linux. I really haven't settled on a distribution though I'm kinda leaning towards Suse.

Mostly I'm wondering how to go about it. The HP has the hard drive partitioned into 2 partitions, one of which is a recovery partition. It's running windows xp home. I guess I can just reformat the harddrive and that will take care of that. It's kind of an older system so I'm wondering how I'd check to see if the appropriate drivers were available for the components on the linux platform. I don't think any of the hardware on the computer has been changed.

I'm guessing I'll have to jump through some hoops to get it done though. The cd/dvd rom drive on my windows computer that I usually use is flawed and will not burn disks, but I think the one on the HP is fine. I figure that I'll find the distribution that I want to load onto it and download it to this computer. Then I'll grab it on my memory stick and take it to the HP and burn a boot disk. I'm just hoping that I can find a Linux distribution that has the drivers to support the network adapter and the cdrom/dvd drive on the HP.

Old 09-01-2009, 05:28 PM   #2
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Can't you use the HP box to download and burn a boot disk?
Old 09-01-2009, 05:31 PM   #3
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Did a quick search on google for your computer. Looks like it runs an Intel 845GL chipset. I would be surprised if anything on that machine didn't have drivers for it. Well, maybe sound, but even that, I might be a little surprised. The stock machine looks like it comes with 256Mb of ram. That's a little light. If you can upgrade, I would. I think your next step, if you haven't already, is to check out: and find a distro that has minimum specs that this machine covers. I think you will be looking at one from the "old computers" category (no offense). Suse might work, I don't know. There are a lot of choices out there.
Old 09-01-2009, 05:37 PM   #4
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I believe Open Suse is a live cd or live dvd.
Just download the .iso and bun it to the appropriate coaster as an image, not a data file.
I think Nero will do it.
Plug the coaster into the appropriate coffee cup hold and reboot the pc to the cd or dvd.
You may have to manually set your bios or strike the proper F key to get it to boot to the cd/dvd, but you'll be running a live system from ram.
It should find your internet connection if you have one as well as find your sound card.
It would be nice to know what video card you have such as ATI or Nvidia as linux drivers are available for them so you can have 3D.
If the live cd/dvd works, your equipment is compatible.
There is an installer on the medium and it will auto partition for you and take care of the hp partition,,,,,, unless you're wanting to dual boot,, which someone else would have to step you through.
Old 09-01-2009, 06:25 PM   #5
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If you want to get an idea of what is available in linux, you can download and burn some of these, perhaps using rewritable CDs.

You can use many distributions that would require more RAM than you have if you use a lighter window manager and desktop. This is true of openSUSE among others, if you install using the DVD.
Old 09-01-2009, 07:25 PM   #6
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I suppose I could download directly to the hp, I just haven't set up any of the network stuff on it. In fact, I didn't even know if it would boot up until today. Also, I think I skip Suse and go with something else, maybe Debian or Gentoo. The Debian distribution has a net install version that's less than 200 mb and it has only what is needed to get the system up and going. I can get the other packages that I need as I go along. I looked at Ubuntu because word around the campfire is that it's good for beginners, but it was too big to download.

It is kinda of an old computer and I agree that 256mb of memory is slim, but memory is so cheap now days that I could upgrade that. Oh, the graphics is an onboard Intel 82845G/GL controller and the network card is a Realtek RTL8139 Family PCI Fast Ethernet.
Old 09-01-2009, 09:35 PM   #7
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puppy 4.2 is about 110mb download its built for working with older systems and with 256mb would be very fast ive played around with it nice little distro well supported community

the realtek is well supported

there is also damm small linux (ive never tried)

puppy is worth a day or two of anyones time and you can get a live iso plus when you boot it up there is an option to install to usb stick top class little distro
Old 09-01-2009, 09:51 PM   #8
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I'd recommend upgrading the RAM if you can, it'll enable to use a larger range of distros, which might be important later.
See; any of the top 10 are usually recommended. Note that Gentoo is a compile from scratch distro (like LFS), so might be too much to start with.
You can google 'linux hcl' (hw compatibility list) and/or see the one here at LQ

Last edited by chrism01; 09-02-2009 at 12:10 AM. Reason: typo me -> RAM grrr
Old 09-01-2009, 09:59 PM   #9
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looked at Ubuntu because word around the campfire is that it's good for beginners, but it was too big to download.
To big to download?
How big is the hd and how much free space do you have?
10 gigs for / [root] is normally recommended as a minimum for the more popular distro's.
For the average user, a 20 gig hd is more than adequate if you intend to run only one distro.
The 256 megs of ram can be compensated for to an extent if you'll take the time to understand setting up partition tables and if possible allow about 1 gig for swap and set it as hda1.
It sounds like Puppy may be a wise choice so far.
Gentoo isn't impossible for someone totally new to Linux to run, but it can be frustrating as the learning curve would be a bit high because Gentoo does require a decent amount of terminal time.
At, on the right hand side of the page in a column is a list of the available distro's.
The more popular ones towards the top of the list tend to be the ones used by those migrating to Linux for the first time.
Read a bit about some and if you install something, give it a fair shot.
No matter what though, don't judge all distro's by the first one you give a shot out.
It's all Linux, but each distro has it's own philosophy.
The philosophy is normally the deciding factor for each of us settling on what we run.


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