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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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HellBound Hackers | Computer General | OS specific

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Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 19-10-07 20:50
The aim
- to install a “family friendly” linux distribution
- to have a distribution that runs fast with minimal CLI

Basically, this thing is just collecting dust. I really want to get my family into linux to show them that they dont have to spend money to get good results. They are very ignorant with technology, they expect things to happen instantaneously and completely graphically. This is why i want a distribution that's low on resources but high on “niceness”.

Laptop specs
- Toshiba satellite s1800-921
- about 6 or 7 years old (not sure though, its in Toshiba's “legacy” range)
- Intel PIII, 1095 Mhz
- 256MB RAM

The laptop currently has NO operating system at all. However, the floppy drive is still functioning correctly as i used it to update BIOS a few days ago. Also, ethernet is working fine.

The problem
- the laptop's optical drive is completely dead – nothing will boot (just spin-stop-spin etc)
- the latest BIOS doesnt support booting from USB drive

This is where it starts. I cannot boot from CD, i cannot boot from USB...i need your advice on the best way to go.

Solutions that i have thought of

- buying an adapter for the laptop's hard drive so i can put it in the desktop and install from there.

I have heard something about having to recompile the linux kernel once ive put the HDD back in the laptop...is this true? If so, (seeing as im not really confident with linux as of yet) how is this done?.

- net booting

from what i have read, i think this may be too much hassle. Would it be worth setting up something?

- booting a really small linux distro (from floppy) and install the new OS from there

erm, i have no idea how to do this...ive heard of lubi though. If someone could explain the procedure then that would be awesome.

- ive heard (not sure if its true) that you can boot a floppy which allows you to boot from a USB drive.

Your input on that would be greatly appreciated as im not sure if im talking crap or not

What im looking for you to do

it would be great if you could read over my ideas and tell me if they are any good and suggest any other solutions. Also, i would appreciate the community's views on Xubuntu but suggestions for other distros would be great.

I hope ive made this clear enough but please ask for more information if necessary.

Thanks a lot in advance.


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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 19-10-07 21:02
its a tad on the risky side, but you could try taking the HDD out and putting it in another computer, then install it from there. I think this is a great idea. This is how I started using linux, on a throw-away IBM laptop similer to yours (PIII, 256 mb RAM, 35 gigs).

Best of luck.


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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 19-10-07 21:58
I use Xubuntu on my AMD Athlon 650MHz 320MB 10GB desktop. However, w hen I first started putting this dinosaur together, it had 192MB ram-- and Xubuntu ran faster than Windows XP on my 2.2GHz 1GB Athlon64 desktop when I popped in another 128 mb ram!

Xubuntu is the way to go, in my opinion, for a low-resources high graphics and generally "user friendly" OS. The specs on your laptop are perfect for it. Xubuntu even comes with WinXP skins so they won't feel too lost haha.

I don't know much about most of your ideas but I do have an external HDD case, which was about USD$30. I occasionally boot from it on my faster computer to install updates, since I don't have internet in my room with the dinosaur.

Good luck, I'm not a Linux pro but I'd say go with Xubuntu. The 'apropos' command is very nice, too Pfft so if you ever need something you don't know about, you can just search. Right out of the... er... CD drive, not box, eh? Xubuntu kicks low-specs butt!

Good luck, I'm glad someone managed to get their family into Linux... *sigh* My dad thinks free software is evil!!!


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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 19-10-07 23:22
Could you not just get a new optical drive for it, there not alot of money these days, and what use is the computer without it, it would be a bastard to install practically any program.
You can probably use a boot floppy with USB support to boot i guess though, but have you considerd Windows 95 or 2000? They will run a treat on your laptop and are simple and releatily easy to use with the familiar environment.


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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 20-10-07 02:08
What's the purpose of Windows when he wants to show his family how friendly Linux can be?


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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 20-10-07 02:25
necr0six wrote:
The aim
- to install a “family friendly” linux distribution
- to have a distribution that runs fast with minimal CLI
- Intel PIII, 1095 Mhz
- 256MB RAM

The laptop currently has NO operating system at all. However, the floppy drive is still functioning correctly as i used it to update BIOS a few days ago. Also, ethernet is working fine.

- net booting

from what i have read, i think this may be too much hassle. Would it be worth setting up something?


Absolutely... setting up a network installation is quite manageable. Also, it's a useful skill to be familiar with. Not to mention... you don't have many options otherwise (that don't involve a 2.5" to 3.5" IDE converter or some such connector), unless you're willing to spend a bit of money.

As far as OS's are concerned, most recommendations will be personal preference. For that reason, I shall only say that you should use XFCE instead of Gnome (desktop managers) and open source alternatives instead of Wine and their familiar M$ software. Other than that, you have to consider that your family, really, will not use many of the features of the OS; so, find one you're comfortable with and mold it into something that is "friendly".



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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 20-10-07 03:10
I agree with PureEvil. I would go buy a new optical drive and then install debian-minimal, since you just want cli. Once you get your system running, you'll want your optical anyway.

Edit:
I've used xubuntu, and found it much better than the fully blown Ubuntu distrobution. Xubuntu was stable, had a good selection of apps, and very easy to use.

Edited by on 20-10-07 03:11
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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 20-10-07 03:28
varreon wrote:
I agree with PureEvil. I would go buy a new optical drive and then install debian-minimal, since you just want cli. Once you get your system running, you'll want your optical anyway.


In the original post, the OP wanted an OS with MINIMAL CLI, not a minimal Linux install. Details make the difference.


Edit:
I've used xubuntu, and found it much better than the fully blown Ubuntu distrobution. Xubuntu was stable, had a good selection of apps, and very easy to use.


It's Ubuntu with a different window manager... just like Kubuntu and Flubuntu. XFCE is a reasonable consideration in any OS. Other than that... you're just saying that any OS with a package manager and the chance to install a lightweight WM is the way to go.



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RE: Riviving an old laptop


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Posted on 21-10-07 11:03
thanks for input guys.

i did actually think of buying a new CD drive, i just forgot about it when i was writing my post. anyway, in terms of that can any drive fit any laptop? or is it on a model/brand basis (as in some models only fit dell laptops or something)

im not particularly bothered about speed but on ebay they seem to be pretty cheap (although, of course, they may not be working correctly)

ebay search

^obviously looking at internal^

anyway, thanks again, more opinions would be greatly appreciated.