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Old 12-17-2017, 12:26 AM   #1
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Registered: Dec 2017
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Help me Choose a Small Distro

I've used more versions of Windows than I can remember. Reading hundreds of articles about
Linux doesn't help much, because I've never used a distro.

I have a problem and Linux may be the only solution.

A few days ago my friend and business partner found a factory sealed box containing an HP
Deskjet D4260. The printer was purchased and promptly shoved into a closet. He forgot it

I use Windows 98SE offline because several old apps and DOS continue to be very useful. My
friend didn't want the Deskjet, so I'd like to install it with 98SE. Unfortunately, there is no
HP software for 98SE. You may be familiar with KernelEx which simulates the NT kernel. The
installation CD is for Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. I tried KernelEx with all three systems.
Each time 98SE froze solid. It will never work.

I was about to donate this Deskjet to Goodwill, when I remembered reading about tiny distros
that can run inside Windows. For example, here is a link to Damn Small Linux (DSL):

The description for DSL says, "Boot from within a host operating system (that's right, it can run
*inside* Windows)"

Info about Linux drivers for the HP Deskjet D4200 series:

The HPLIP driver package has "advanced functionality such as printer status and maintenance
features." Exactly what I need to perform basic operations like print head alignment.

I'm looking at "HP Developers Portal | HP Linux Imaging and Printing."

It says all major distros already have HPLIP software. I'm sure that does not apply to these very
small distros, so installing this package would be required.

Lengthy "Installer Walkthrough" is the reason most of us stay with Windows:

I gave DSL as an example, but I'll download any tiny distro that you guys recommend. It must
launch (or boot) from within a Windows system like DSL. Maybe the HPLIP software could be
slipstreamed before the install.

My only concern is getting lost inside Linux. I'm an advanced (occasionally expert) Windows user.
I can't go back to kindergarten, if you know what I mean.
Old 12-17-2017, 06:42 PM   #2
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Distribution: Debian testing/sid; OpenSuSE; Fedora; Mint
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Hi polarguy,

Welcome to LQ!

DSL will not run inside Windows by itself. And, it's hopelessly outdated. Hardware designed to run 98SE doesn't have virtualization extensions necessary to run an emulation program, like virtualbox. Not only that, but the hardware would be painfully slow even if your idea was possible.

I admire you for looking into Linux. But with equipment that outdated it won't do what you want. Linux would run on the hardware by itself, but not as a virtual machine within Windows.
Old 12-17-2017, 07:12 PM   #3
Registered: Jul 2017
Location: King's Lynn, UK
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I have to agree with AwesomeMachine on this one, unfortunately.

It's generally accepted that to run Linux within Windows, you need a VM. This method, by its very nature, requires a powerful, modern, multi-core CPU with virtualization 'extensions' in its instruction set; and large quantities of fast, DDR3 or DDR4 RAM, because otherwise it'll run like a slug.

I run Puppy Linux, by choice. Puppy does have a method by which it can run within Windows, from a folder actually inside the Windows 'C:' drive.

This is only possible because Puppy saves all its configurations/settings inside what is known as a 'save-file'; a special type of SFS file (Squash File System), which contains a full Linux file system inside of it. So although the 'base' Puppy 'install' can run on top of a FAT32/NTFS file system, it must have a Linux ext2/3/4 file-system to 'save' to. And the 'save-file' gives you just that.


HOWEVER: the hardware itself is going to be the limiting factor here. Most Windows 98-era machines were running things like the Intel Pentium MMX. No SSE instructions even, much less SSE2s.....which is pretty much the minimum for running any kind of Linux distro, no matter how small, at anything approaching a decent speed.

This would be easier if you could let us have some idea of the specifications of the machine you intend to run this on. IF the hardware isn't too outdated, I'll happily let you have some links to the Puppy .exe installers which will perform this task, using a system developed on the Puppy Forums known as LICK.

Are you planning to use a 98-era machine for this?

If it's too ancient, there's no point even bothering, because it just won't work. LICK will work with even Windows 95.....but not necessarily on hardware from that generation.

Have a read of this. And also this.


Puppy does have the relevant HPLIP software packages required for that printer to run.....which would be saved, at shutdown, to that previously-mentioned 'save-file'.

Food for thought..?


Last edited by Mike_Walsh; 12-17-2017 at 08:15 PM.
Old 12-18-2017, 08:13 AM   #4
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My thought is why run Linux inside MSWindows, you'd be far better off running a 'live' distro.

Check this out -
Old 12-18-2017, 11:45 AM   #5
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Location: London
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Everyone seems to assume you have a very old computer because you are using a very old Windows, despite the fact that you told us that it was to run old software! Exactly what is your hardware?

If you can't run a virtual machine, it seems a bit of a trial to save your printing and than boot up Linux to run the printer, although I suppose it depends on how often you print.
Old 12-19-2017, 08:51 AM   #6
Registered: Dec 2017
Location: _Austro_Bavaria_
Distribution: gentoo / linux mint
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I use Windows 98SE offline because several old apps and DOS continue to be very useful.
That software should run fine in dosbox and wine.

Wine supports up to Directx 9, which I read yesterday was made available 2002.

I mostly run games in dosbox and wine. Only issue is wiht software which uses 256 colors only in full screen, i doubt you use such windows 95 software, right?


when the hardware supports linux mint, use it.
is it a pentium 3 use pclinuxos. I used that in the past.

most newer distros do not support i686 anymore. That limits the choices.

Last edited by _roman_; 12-19-2017 at 08:53 AM.


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