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Installing on old PC

I am not a total newbie, but would call myself a beginner. I am trying to install Linux (not picky which distro) on an old PC which does have a CD drive but will not boot from it. (Please don't tell me to get a newer PC-I have several already-I'm recycling) I finally found an old Slackware cd and managed to install it from floppy. I use LILO so I can boot dos or Slackware of the HD. My original goal was just to create a RS232 terminal to use in developing code for a microcontroller. (The ucontroller's output is RS232.) Anyway, I would like to install a newer distro, It seems that I should be able to do this since the existing linux can access the CD drive (as can the Slackware bootdisk). Can anybody walk me through this?

Comments

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Well, one choice for an old pc would be Puppy Linux. Since you can't boot from the CD, I assume you can copy from it, or just download the .iso file right onto the box. OK, using the fromiso option, you can boot Puppy (or actually quite a few other Linux distros) right from the .iso file.

    The download page for Puppy is at this link: http://www.puppylinux.com/install.htm (The link also has other installation instructions you may or may not be interested in looking at).

    A good link for the instructions on how to setup and boot Puppy fromiso is here:
    http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=8674
    This thread is a few years old, but the instructions still work. Just remember that back then the name of the Puppy iso file was puppy-2.00-seamonkey.iso. If you follow the instructions, just remember to replace that with the name of the new Puppy iso, which is pup-431.iso.

    FYI, Puppy Linux loads entirely into RAM, so, it runs fast, even on an old pc.

    Hope this helps. If it's not what your looking for, let us know.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    You can install slackware via usb or even by adding an entry to a preexisting grub bootloader, if you are interested in those then I can help.
  • I have a similar question about an old PC, model is Toshiba Satellite Pro 440 CDT laptop. This computer has a 133 MHz MMX pentium cpu, its pretty ancient with 64 mb of ram, 2 mb video, 3 gig HDD, cd-rom. Thats for the basics, it can run win xp (of all things :P ).

    I would like to know what would be the best starter window based linux to use as I've never used it before.
  • If you manage to boot iso from lilo, I would recommend you try openSUSE-LXDE - live and can be installed if needed. I looked at it recently and is really nice.
    The openSUSE wiki http://en.opensuse.org/Installation_without_CD has some useful information.
  • woboylewoboyle Posts: 501
    Myself, I prefer Gentoo for older PC's. It allows you to configure the system for just about any hardware, and it will only install the software and drivers for the hardware you specify. However, it is a good idea to have a full listing of the hardware in your system to do this. It also requires a lot of time the first time you install it. However, it will result in a system that is highly tuned to your needs and environment. Not for the faint of heart, but a great linux learning environment.
  • Thanks for all the suggestions on a distro. First I have a simple problem, and I think the solution is probably simple.
    Seems the first step should be to get lilo to boot a live distro from a CD. How do I set up lilo to do this? Does it know how to control a CDROM? Maybe I'm missing something obvious?

    I have previously tried GRUB-which did not work. Then I tried PLOP, which was a FLOP. It hung up and I had to reboot, fortunately the MBR was still intact.
  • Well I tried Puppy on that old computer, it starts to boot, then looks like it hangs.. from what I can tell from the puppy website, I don't have enough ram, 64 mb short, will have to look into it more. I could try Gentoo also, does this one have a boot from cd option only too like puppy does?
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Wow, 64mb ram, I don't think I ever ran anything in 64 mb but DOS. I'm sure that there must be Linux distros that will run under 64 mb, but they will probably be more of a project for you, then a live cd that just runs.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Since you are stating that you are short 64Mb of RAM, then I would assume that you are using 32Mb - 184Mb, in that case I would not be confident that any modern distro with a GUI can run on that system. You can try a distro based on ratpoison, xfce or lxde to see if they will work. However you should be able to setup the system to be CLI-only and run it with minimal applications.

    Just don't look for anything fancy when you have minimal resouces available.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    You might be able to install Slackware with xfce (exlude the kde packages) on that system and get it running.
  • Mfillpot, I have no idea what you just said, I am new to Linux. That computer has 64mb of ram, I am not interested in anything fancy, just something for basic web browsing.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    To make it a little easier, since your comp only has 64Mb of RAM the changes of running a live CD or even a GUI is small. Your best bets would be to try Puppy (which you have) or possibly Arch Linux. You can attempt to install Slackware, but if Arch doesn't work then Slackware won't either.

    The only other option is for you to install a distro that has no window manager and runs in Command Line Mode, which means that you can't use apps like firefox or anything Graphical User Interface based. But in CLI mode you can use links or lynx to access the internet in a text based browser.
  • you can install slackware without even a cd-drive, doing it all from the hard drive.
    For this you will need
    1. be able to boot from a linux system (it can be a live system)
    2. a sufficiently big partition to hold the slackware*.iso file and to extract it
    to a directory in that same partition
    3. a boot loader installed on your hard drive (such as grub)
    4. and 2 empty partitions for installing slackware (one for the linux system and
    a smaller one for the swap)

    If you meet these requirements then you can read this page where I describe how
    I did it from my hard drive. I explained it for grub. For other boot loaders (eg lilo)
    you'll need to adapt ...

    http://vonbiber.x10hosting.com/slackware/nocd/index.html
  • Good news, I decided to try from the start, my old laptop runs Puppy 1 with the 64 mb of ram. I'll experiment with this for a while and will try 2, 3, then 4 if each works accordingly. I was reading that I'll have to setup a pagefile which will help with the low ram issue I have. Applications do start but take a while to load up. I'm quite excited.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    I think you have confused terms, windows uses a paging file, in Linux you setup a swap partition.

    The general recommendation for a swap partition is to make it 2X the amount of RAM installed, however with your current amount of memory I would recommend setting up a 2G swap partition.
  • The swap file is where Linux would be copied to and run from?
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Swap can be a file, but usually it is setup as a partition. Swap is a location on a hard drive that is designated for less used memory files and is also used as RAM if your used memory exceeds your physical RAM size.

    You must remember that your hard drives are much slower than RAM chips, even though with swap you may be able to run many things, the performance will be highly degraded compared to running the same apps from RAM.
  • woboyle wrote:
    Myself, I prefer Gentoo for older PC's. It allows you to configure the system for just about any hardware, and it will only install the software and drivers for the hardware you specify. However, it is a good idea to have a full listing of the hardware in your system to do this. It also requires a lot of time the first time you install it. However, it will result in a system that is highly tuned to your needs and environment. Not for the faint of heart, but a great linux learning environment.

    Sound advice, woboyle, since it would appear the thread owner is someone well familiar with the technical side of hardware and operating systems given his stated goal to develop an RS-232 interface. I have had good success with Gentoo in these situations.

    Nanouk
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