Skip to comments.Calling all Nerds!! Need Help getting started installing Linux on a laptop
Posted on 04/27/2006 2:23:22 PM PDT by freedumb2003
OK, I am a very technical person. I have installed Operating Systems but they were Minaframes (OS/390 and UNIX).
I have a old laptop (Compaq Armada 500) that I want to install Linux on (upon which I wish to install Linux?). But I have been out of the OS biz for a while, so can someone get me started?
I am concerned about things like coordinating the BIOS with the OS, getting the proper drivers (especially wifi), etc. etc. etc.
Any first steps would be greatly appreciated.
Greetings, welcome to a wonderful new world.
First, go to Ubuntu.com - this is the best Linux variant for laptops, so far as I've experienced.
Try out the Live CD first, so you can see how it works before installing it.
Come back and tell me the results.
I had Mandriva Linux before, but wasn't impressed. This weekend, I'm going to install Slax to see how that works out. Go here for a quick tutorial on how to install Slax to your HD without messing up Windows XP. Slax is available here.
If you want to try SUSE, go here to download it and get installation instructions, etc.
Good recommendation. The Live CD trial will allow the user to make sure that video, wifi, sound, ethernet drivers and such work on the laptop and that the particular distro has everything else he needs.
Go to DistroWatch.com to read about and download various Live CD distros to try out.
He may want to try the new Xubuntu variant, which is supposed to be very light. With an old laptop, that may be important.
You're going to need to do some googling.
I'm running Debian Sarge on an old Dell laptop, with a bad CD-ROM drive. It took some doin'. ;-)
I had to use bootp for the boot device, so I had to set that up on another machine.
I,M USING LINSPIRE.
I don't think I cam do the dual boot -- the machine is too old for XP (I ran that MS analysis program and it said nogood).
So this will be an adventure. Fortunately I have 2 actively working computers so this isn't a big risk.
I can always depend on my FReeper FRiends for good advice. You guys rock!
I'll ping everyone back when I get the whole thing running!
With the latest Firefox, Mozilla and Opera (for variety) it runs very well.
Where one gets into troubles with drivers and such is with the latest hardware. Vendors tend to make sure Windows runs on their hardware and then ship it.
For more complex hardware, it can take a little while for the hardware to be reversed engineered so we can get a Linux driver.
So I'd just get an Ubuntu or SuSE CD and if you don't have anything on the laptop you care about, just start the installation.
If you laptop is so old it cannot boot off the CD, and has no BIOS option to ask to boot off the CD, then you will have to figure out the steps needed to make a boot floppy for your installation. This isn't too bad, once you find the instructions for it, given that you have other PC's that currently work.
Once you get far enough to boot off the SuSE or Ubuntu installation CD, you should be on easy street.
There are a couple of issues with Breezy Badger, the present release of Ubuntu, but they're solveable.
Wireless cards tend to be the biggest issue, but there is a way around that too:
Using a Linksys PCMCIA card, it works just fine.
If you are interested in the TechSupport ping list please mail me
Dont worry about dual booting if you really want to use windows you can downlad the vmware player and Ill talk you thorough building a windows virtual machene, who needs to mess around with dual booting anymore..
Let us know when you need more help on this and I will bump the TechSupport list again
I'll be diggin into it and starting tomorrow.
Like I said, My other PCs are all set up -- I can burn my own CDs or DVDs, etc. This is some extra hardware I have lying around.
This weekend it occurred to me to install linux -- I need to stay up on my shell scripting anyway.
I'll ping you'all back.
Man, FR is the greatest!
i would choice this over any other distro to start with because everything you will want and need is pre-installed.
there are other great ones out there but for ease of use this one gets a 10 out of 10.
i would give xp only an 8.
Don't know exactly yet -- you guys have all guven me a LOT to read and research. I'll make a final decision tomorrow when I have my home office back in business (it has become a spare room).
Outstanding recommendation! That's what I always advise people to do who are thinking about it, or concerned with hardware compatibility.
Oh, great. Now you've given me ideas. I have an old 380MHz laptop just laying around. I run Ubuntu on both of my primary servers here. I might have to try throwing that on there and see what happens.
Like the famous Vulcan Saying: "Only Nixon could go to China."
Hope I'm not being toooo something . . .
but shouldn't threads like this be funneled into the tech thread?
Last I heard years ago, JimRob and John preferred to minimize vanities. And, it seems to me, that the tech thread is a great place for this query.
Certainly individual titles can possibly get more attention. But I think there's more merit in training folks to post on the tech thread and to follow the tech thread.
Focused attention seems best, to me.
Any port in a storm.
I am an old FReeper, but if we can channel this tread, so much the better.
And, again, I say FReepers are the best help -- because FReepers are good people.
The installation is on the same CD which is a nice feature too. If you like it, just install by clicking the link on the desktop when running the live cd. There is also a loyal following so there is good community support. MepisLovers.org is a good resource.
I would stick with distros like Mepis, Ubuntu, or Suse just beacuse they install a lot easier because of the graphical interface during the install. One tip is that when you get to the portion of the installation where it lists your hardware, make sure you have everything there. It is alot easier to get the hardware setup from the get-go than afterward.
There are a lot of choices out there so try a few and see what works for you both aesthetically and feature wise as well as no issues with your hardware. Have fun!
One nice thing about Linux is that it takes up little space. You can use the built in boot loader and run multiple linux versions on the same machine and they only take up a couple of gig a piece on your hard disk. That way you can install a few and boot into each one and see what you like.
One difference between the distros is the way you install additional software. Suse and Red Hat use packages called RPMs and debian uses a different method. With a Debian based distro you select the package from an FTP site and using synaptec, check the dependencies to make sure you have everything else you need to run it. If not it will download and install them as well.
It really is all about your preferences. That is the great thing about Linux - the choices are yours.
I always put them there but I did not post this one, I will add that to the guidelines for the ping list..
I have had Mepis on two different laptops. Right now, running it on an Acer Aspire 3003LCi or something like that. Everything worked but the battery monitor.
I downloaded version 6 the other day. It's still in alpha, but thought it would be fun to mess with. Has KDE 3.5 and the battery monitor works on my laptop. Not to mention that it also works with the built-in winmodem.
Plus, it contains all the stuff that's good to have like Java, Flash etc. already installed.
Not to mention that they are now tracking Ubuntu instead of Debian, which means that the available packages should be way more up to date, and the upgrade cycle is more regular. In my opinion, it was a smart move, and should make things much easier for Linux newbies in the future.
On my old 433 mhz laptop, I'm running Zenwalk. Tried Knoppix, and it ran well but took forever to boot.
Thanks. Honored you'd choose to.
Was just my personal perspective. You've done quite well without my opinions!
Just seems logical, I think.
Have a blessed weekend.
Try Xandros. They have a free version called the Open Circulation Edition that can be downloaded for free via BitTorrent/BitTornado.
How's that laptop coming?
I tried pclinux but the video was hosed -- I'm trying Mepis, which looked good on the liveCD. But when I finally decided to install it it has been writing to disk for 7 hours.
I think something is wrong.
Yes. Mepis 3.4 should install in about 20 minutes, depending on hardware. Something indeed is wrong.
I would start over if I were you. And, you might want to check and see if you don't have a bad download.
Maybe we could get this thread on the Tech Help ping list?
I started over. Much better now.
91% complete in about 30 minutes.
Now I need to find the wireless card drivers...
Going to use ndiswrapper?
>>Going to use ndiswrapper?
Don't know -- what is it?
That's a compatibility layer that lets you use the Windows driver with Linux. I'm using it on two different laptops right now, and it works pretty good.
You'll need to either download the Windows driver for your wireless card, or use the manufacturer CD if you have it.
I can download the driver, no problem.
How do I install ndiswrapper?
If you have Yahoo or AOL messenger, I can walk you through it step by step. Freepmail me.
ndiswrapper comes with Mepis.
You may get lucky and Mepis could very well find your wireless out-of-the-box.
OS/390? That's so... so... stone age!!
You need z/OS. I think 1.7 is available.
(actually, I only recently directly updated a 2.10 box to new hardware running 1.6, so I'm pullin yur leg!)
It did find my external network card on install (which made it better than pclinux). I was pretty impressed with how well it found everything on my old laptop (usb, usb hub, usb mouse, proper video, etc.)
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