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Linux on an old laptop - Page 4

post #31 of 48
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When I first started this project, I was immediately referred to two distributions: Slax, and Puppy Linux. Slax didn't work out; Salix, the derivative intended for HDD installations, was slow and bulky. Puppy Linux was something I had always meant to try, but the server was unavailable when I tried to download it, so I shelved it.

Today I tried again. I downloaded Lubuntu, Knoppix, and three versions of Puppy Linux (they're small). Lubuntu was a wash; it's just as slow as Salix was, and it limits my screen to 800x600 for some reason, the same as every distribution I tried except for DSL. My options next were Knoppix or Puppy. I burned Puppy because Doctor Who was on, and I wanted something that would burn quickly. I had downloaded Puppy 3.01 Retro, Puppy 4.2 Retro, and Lucid Puppy 5.1. I decided to start with Puppy 4.2, thinking it was Slackware compatible, but that's Puppy 3, which is why I downloaded such an old version. Regardless, Puppy 4.2 installed nicely, and my screen loaded properly, and it's fast and responsive and I have lots of hard drive space and I'm quite content with it at the moment.

If I run into issues with software packages, I'll try Puppy 3 or 5, but at the moment I'll stick with what's working, because I'm sick to death of installing operating systems on that laptop.

Today I have a laptop with Linux; over the weekend I'll have a laptop with Linux that can accomplish my primary goals; and by next Friday I'll have something to entertain me on my 14 hour car ride when I'm not driving.
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post #32 of 48
Celeron 300 isn't exactly the fastest on the market. Even my fathers old old old computer had a 450 MHz K6 in it.
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post #33 of 48
Try giving Crunchbang Linux a chance! Before I ran Arch Linux on "Arch WINux" I was using Crunchbang. It was quite fast and easy to configure. It's based on Ubuntu, but instead of running GNOME it runs openbox. Openbox makes such a big difference; it's so lightweight.
    
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post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonX View Post
Celeron 300 isn't exactly the fastest on the market. Even my fathers old old old computer had a 450 MHz K6 in it.
Yeah I mentioned earlier that Celey 300's (though I'm not certain it includes the mobile version) almost single-handedly launced overclocking because upping FSB from 66 MHz to 100 MHz was so common and bumped them to 450... a nice lil' hit. As long as you handle thermals you're fine.
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post #35 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonX View Post
Celeron 300 isn't exactly the fastest on the market. Even my fathers old old old computer had a 450 MHz K6 in it.
The real bottleneck is the 6.5 GB IDE hard drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lob3s View Post
Try giving Crunchbang Linux a chance! Before I ran Arch Linux on "Arch WINux" I was using Crunchbang. It was quite fast and easy to configure. It's based on Ubuntu, but instead of running GNOME it runs openbox. Openbox makes such a big difference; it's so lightweight.
I'm not trying other distributions until I identify a problem with Puppy Linux.

Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
Yeah I mentioned earlier that Celey 300's (though I'm not certain it includes the mobile version) almost single-handedly launced overclocking because upping FSB from 66 MHz to 100 MHz was so common and bumped them to 450... a nice lil' hit. As long as you handle thermals you're fine.
Regrettably, the BIOS is rather limited, and so is the fan on the back of the laptop. It was a heat buildup that killed my 60 GB hard drive in the first place.
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post #36 of 48
Greetz
Glad you have a system installed. I just wanted to address the thermal issue. If heat killed your previous drive, and I strongly agree that heat is the enemy of all machines, especially electro-mechanical devices. While it can be a pita sometimes discovering how to properly take a laptop apart, if you have any such skills I highly recommend it.

It is very common for manufacturers and especially laptop manufacturers to use a really think chunk of thermal grease which was bad enough when new but over time tends to dry up and even resemble a crackle finish. In any case it is a lousy thermal conductor.

Also they tend not to polish the surfaces knowing ahead of time they will be using overkill on the grease. I've mentioned my ancient laptop, a Sony Vaio P-II 433 and from lapping, polishing and a little Arctic Silver the temps dropped over 10 C. I added some heat sink material to the hdd cage and added another 7 C to the 10. I read this with a Fluke Pro VOM with it's own calibrated temp probe with the top hanging just above on temporary spacers.I actually think it even got netter when assembled because air flow is channeled by baffles on the underside of the top cover.

While YMMV thermal issues are serious as you obviously know. I couldn't replace the fan as it was built in to the heatsink nor was there space to add any. This may not be the case for you so you can possibly see even greater reduction in temps.
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post #37 of 48
Thread Starter 
Puppy was too simplistic, or I just didn't really know how to use it, so I'm giving Debian a shot. Problems have already arisen.

I did the net install, having selected the xfce desktop environment and doing an expert graphical installation, and it said it was finished downloading packages, but it just sent me to a command line and I couldn't figure out how to enter the desktop. Typing startx didn't work. I downloaded the first CD of the full installation series, because that's apparently all you need for the basic system. It's installing while I'm at work (it doesn't take long, but it takes long enough). Assuming the Xfce desktop installs, how do I get into the desktop from the command line, and how do I make it always boot to the desktop? Hopefully it'll do that automatically, but I want to be prepared.

Complaints about Debian in general: I can find a list of every package available for Debian, but when the installer asks me which pre-defined collections I want to install, I can't get any details on them. Why does Debian not want to tell me what's in the packages? I also can't seem to find out what's on any given installation disk. Why does Debian think I want to download every single one of them?

Finally, as a general complaint: Puppy detected my screen as 1024x768, and so did DSL, but other distributions seem to cap me at 800x600. Do I need to tell Linux to use different drivers or something?
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post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDeodorant View Post
Puppy was too simplistic, or I just didn't really know how to use it, so I'm giving Debian a shot. Problems have already arisen.
I can't help much with Debian. However there is another thread that you may find helpful. It's called something like "My Intense Linux Adventure" wherein he is trying 8 or 9 distros for a week and he's on Debian right now and not liking it much.compared to his first 3. Personally I don;t think a week is enough time to get to know an unfamiliar OpSys.


I
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDeodorant View Post
did the net install, having selected the xfce desktop environment and doing an expert graphical installation, and it said it was finished downloading packages, but it just sent me to a command line and I couldn't figure out how to enter the desktop. Typing startx didn't work. I downloaded the first CD of the full installation series, because that's apparently all you need for the basic system. It's installing while I'm at work (it doesn't take long, but it takes long enough). Assuming the Xfce desktop installs, how do I get into the desktop from the command line, and how do I make it always boot to the desktop? Hopefully it'll do that automatically, but I want to be prepared.
startx should have done something either failed and gone blank or dropped you back to CLI with an error message or worked.. That it didn't do something is indicative of a failed install afaik. However you can try several alternatives for grins.
It would be a good idea to look in the "/usr/bin/" directory to see what you have. If you do "ls /usr/bin/ |more" you can scroll through and pay special attention to those beginning with "x" such as "xsetup" , "xdm", "xfce-display-settings" "xfdesktop" . There should also be "startxfce4".

Once you know X is working you can set it to go directly to desktop if you want (I hate that option) by changing the default runlevel. Gor example here's Slackware's which only requires changing the emboldened number in the file "/etc/inittab" I only post it because it helps explain runlevels

Quote:
# These are the default runlevels in Slackware:
# 0 = halt
# 1 = single user mode
# 2 = unused (but configured the same as runlevel 3)
# 3 = multiuser mode (default Slackware runlevel)
# 4 = X11 with KDM/GDM/XDM (session managers)
# 5 = unused (but configured the same as runlevel 3)
# 6 = reboot

# Default runlevel. (Do not set to 0 or 6)
id:3:initdefault:
It's harder than that in Debian because there are fewer runlevels and numerous scripts beginning with "S" or "N" iirc. They are located in "etc/init" but it's been a long time so you should Google something like "change debian runlevel" to get the recent goods.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDeodorant View Post
Complaints about Debian in general: I can find a list of every package available for Debian, but when the installer asks me which pre-defined collections I want to install, I can't get any details on them. Why does Debian not want to tell me what's in the packages? I also can't seem to find out what's on any given installation disk. Why does Debian think I want to download every single one of them?
I'm guestimating but I imagine it has to do with dependencies. If you google the package name you do get a breakdown. but I am surprised they don;t have a "package list" index that tells what disk and directory they're in. I know you presently need to slim it down, but Man! that can be risky.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDeodorant View Post
Finally, as a general complaint: Puppy detected my screen as 1024x768, and so did DSL, but other distributions seem to cap me at 800x600. Do I need to tell Linux to use different drivers or something?
Linux Xorg will not easily risk allowing a resolution that could fry video card, monitor or both. So it requires good data on what they are and what are their limitations. Video cards are pretty easy but many monitors do not report EDID either accurately or in a thorough manner. It's best to look up the exact specs for you monitor and add them in to "/etc/X11/xorg.conf". If the video card is nvidia, "nvidia-settings" has a more powerful EDID checker and will even write to the config if run as root.

Sorry if I'm less than helpful in depth but the basics are true

regards
Jimmy

PS BTW you once asked why "smp" kernels. when you don;t have a dual core device. While that may be true multi-threading did not start with multiple processors. It's been around for quite awhile and it was found that enabling "smp" in the kernel improved performance..
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post #39 of 48
I liked DSL, it runs great on my AMD k6 266 MHz laptop with 190 MB ram. It supports my old as dirt xircom ethernet card natively, and you can install it to the hard drive. If you do decide to install it to hard drive use the LILo boot loader, not the GRUB one. my 2c
    
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post #40 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MR KROGOTH View Post
I liked DSL, it runs great on my AMD k6 266 MHz laptop with 190 MB ram. It supports my old as dirt xircom ethernet card natively, and you can install it to the hard drive. If you do decide to install it to hard drive use the LILo boot loader, not the GRUB one. my 2c
DSL is shelved as the safe choice that, although I know it works, is slightly too ugly for me to use it as anything but the last resort. I would use it over Puppy, but I'm hoping to find something similar to DSL with a slightly nicer UI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
startx should have done something either failed and gone blank or dropped you back to CLI with an error message or worked.. That it didn't do something is indicative of a failed install afaik. However you can try several alternatives for grins.
It would be a good idea to look in the "/usr/bin/" directory to see what you have. If you do "ls /usr/bin/ |more" you can scroll through and pay special attention to those beginning with "x" such as "xsetup" , "xdm", "xfce-display-settings" "xfdesktop" . There should also be "startxfce4".
startx just came back with (going from memory here) "Bash: invalid command (startx)." I suspect, though, that it just wasn't installed during the 'base system' installation. I'm hoping that installing from the full disk will get me farther. I'm not really going to spend much time on Debian, because I need this done by Thursday night.
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