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Old 02-28-2011, 07:18 AM   #1
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Unable to boot any distro of Linux on Dell Dimension 4400

I have recently decided to blow the dust off of my old Dell Dimension 4400 and install linux on it. I have never run Linux before, always being a Windows person. I've decided that with the speed of the Dimension, adding a clean, efficient OS like Linux would be beneficial. Here are some of the specs
Dell Dimension 4400
256 MB of RAM
20 GB HDD (13.6 GB free)
Intel P4
600x800 Resolution
Those are all of the specs I know off the top of my head. I've come across a problem though. I've made several live boot disks; Ubuntu,Xubuntu, and Fedora XFCE. The latter two I decided to go with because I realized that the dimension would not cover the reccomended 1 GB of RAM. When I booted either of the Ubuntu or Xubuntu, it would take me to the purple loading screen that says "Ubunutu 10.10" and has 4 dots under the words that cycle through red and white. It would stay on this page for 5-10 minutes, then the screen would go black interminably. The CD drive still seemed to be running, but I let the screen stay black for about 25 min before I shut it down.
Thinking maybe this had something to do with Ubuntu, I made a Fedora XFCE boot disk, to no avail. I was hopeful at first, because it went to the "Automatic boot in (x) secs", and then to Fedora loading screen with the prgressing bar at the bottom. It would load the bar all the way across the screen, and then the same black screen of death...
I could use some help, being new to Linux. I'm confused as to whats wrong, since I have enough RAM for either Xubuntu or Fedora XFCE, and I have enough Hard drive space also. Any help is appreciated, thanks!
Old 02-28-2011, 07:34 AM   #2
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You probably do not have enough ram for any of those. I would suggest trying puppy or one of the Tiny's.
Old 02-28-2011, 07:42 AM   #3
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With 256MB I would recommend LXDE as desktop environment, or use a window manager, like Fluxbox or Openbox, instead. May be a Debian with LXDE, or Lubuntu. Also, as suggested above, Puppy, Tinycore or Slitaz should run fine.
Old 02-28-2011, 09:11 AM   #4
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Thanks for the help! I'm going to try a lighter desktop environment and see if that works.
Old 02-28-2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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A few issues happen in those old systems. One is the ram but it ought to boot to something. What you may need to start with is black cd's and be sure to burn you disk at the very slowest speeds. Older cd drives were never designed to read cd-r's and almost never read cd-rw's. Black cd's have been the best I have found, dunno why either they just work.

Then consider slitaz or puppy or maybe even a choice made for under 256 ram. Many do support that amount.

Lastly is I doubt it but a syslinux isolinux deal but burn a good disk first.
Old 03-01-2011, 01:12 PM   #6
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The distros for 256MB that I've tested and would recommend are
CrunchBang, Salix, Zenwalk, and Zevenos with the Xfce desktop
Puppy and Slitaz with simple window managers

Puppy is perhaps the easiest and their help forum is very friendly.
Old 03-01-2011, 06:29 PM   #7
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I'd upgrade the memory first off, whatever distribution you plan to use: you don't need to spend a fortune, but having 512MB rather than 256MB often makes a very noticeable difference in speed --- something like one of these should do the trick. (And no, that's not my eBay shop! )
Old 03-01-2011, 06:40 PM   #8
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Debian will boot and load on 256Mb but it will take a while to install desktop,although cd drive on older pc may not load, I keep an extra cdrom for installing to older pc.
Old 03-07-2011, 07:11 AM   #9
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I ended up trying dsl, but the desktop looked ancient. I switched to Puppy and it works great!
Old 03-07-2011, 07:43 AM   #10
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also try anti-X from mepis

it will run quite well with just 256Mb !.


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