[lug] new install

steve at badcheese.com steve at badcheese.com
Thu Mar 15 13:55:12 MDT 2007

If you've got a laptop with 128M of ram, windows probably won't really run 
very well under those circumstances anyway, right?  XP needs 256M minimum 
and win98 and WinME are end-of-life'd so there's no patches for them 
anymore and the system's a sitting duck for being trojaned.

My recommendation is to install Fedora or some other lightweight version 
of Linux (there are TONS of distributions available - even some that work 
better with low memory machines, like "damn small linux").  It'll make 
your thinkpad useful again.  Ubuntu is a favorite of many people nowadays 
and works great out of the box with most hardware including wireless, 
printers, etc ...  Ubuntu has a live CD that you can boot on your laptop 
to see if you like it first.

The external CD won't be a problem as long as your laptop's BIOS will boot 
from it.  When you download the live CD, stick it into your external 
CDROM and reboot.  That'll tell you if your BIOS will boot from it.  If 
so, then the installation should go well.  If your BIOS won't boot from a 
CDROM, then you'll need to make a boot floppy (most distros have this as 
an option), but it's a bit of a pain in the butt.   :)

Since you have a low-memory machine, you should create a swap partition on 
your machine.  256M or 512M should be plenty for you to do tons of things 
on linux and you can always disable unneeded services to conserve memory 
if you don't need them (don't install a database or web server if you 
don't plan on using them, etc.).  Another way to save memory is to run a 
lightweight window manager like XFCE or something instead of Gnome or KDE.

I've got a 64-Meg 200Mhz Pentium-1 desktop (why do I keep it around?) 
that's running Gentoo Linux now.  It could run X, but I don't run X just 
because I think that 64M is a little too low to run firefox, but 128M 
should be fine to do the basic desktop stuff without swapping too much. 
:)  I use my 64M machine mostly to do bittorrent and stuff.  I don't care 
how long it takes and the networking is the same as it is on a beafy 
machine, so I'm content with it.  I *have* installed a full Suse (9.2, I 
think) distro on my 64M machine once, but was too slow for desktop use.

- Steve

On Thu, 15 Mar 2007, Daniel Webb wrote:

> Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 02:08:59 -0600
> From: Daniel Webb <lists at danielwebb.us>
> Reply-To: "Boulder (Colorado) Linux Users Group -- General Mailing List"
>     <lug at lug.boulder.co.us>
> To: "Boulder (Colorado) Linux Users Group -- General Mailing List"
>     <lug at lug.boulder.co.us>
> Subject: Re: [lug] new install
> On Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 11:25:27AM -0800, Bob Singleton wrote:
>> I need help and advice.  I want to make the leap from windows to Linux. I'm
>> a little bit leary because I don't have an internal CD drive or floppy etc.
>> I do have an external CD/DVD drive. Should I anticipate a problem when my
>> old operating system is being deleted - will my computer be able to see the
>> external drive?   Also, someone recomend the best Linux system to install,
>> Red Hat, or what? I'm coming into this cold turkey.
>>     I have an IBM Thinkpad X30
>>   processor is pentium III with 1.06 MHz
>>   Memory is 128 MB
>>   Storage is 20 GB
> Sorry to chime in so late, but:
> 1) That's not much memory.  If you use any of Firefox, java, acrobat reader
> or OpenOffice, this is likely going to give you a bad impression of Linux,
> since all of those programs are obscene memory hogs in comparison to everthing
> else (on my system, they use the majority of 1.5G memory, and I have a LOT of
> processes running).  Those programs will eat up gigs of memory without
> trying.
> 2) Try any distro that has a live CD first.  You'll probably think about
> trying other distros if you like Linux anyway.  I like Debian stable (or
> actually, Debian Etch which is almost stable), except I'm not sure if it has
> a live cd yet, so maybe try Knoppix which is a live CD based on Debian.
> I agree with others that VMware is a good way to start out and you can try
> that out for any distribution, live CD or not.
> 3) As others have said, don't get rid of Windows yet.  It will be a long
> process.  One of the toughest things about fully migrating to Linux is just
> figuring out the best software for a given task, especially as a new user.
> There is no good way to determine this that I know of other than word of
> mouth.  This list is invaluable for that.
> 4) It WILL be frustrating at times, unless your needs are extremely simple,
> in which case you may not even notice the difference.
> 5) A major adjustment to using Linux is that you'll have to start evaluating
> hardware before you buy it to make sure it will work right with Linux.  Don't
> let anybody tell you different.
> 6) It's worth it.
> P.S. I'm not even sure about the external drive issue.  Don't delete Windows.
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