What Distro for a Laptop?

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What Distro for a Laptop?

Postby sandyman » Sun Jun 26, 2005 11:12 am

Can any one suggest a good distro for an old(ish) laptop?
The main factors are it must work with my Wireless card. It's a Netgear MA401 which is supported but I don't fanct mucking around trying to configure it. Also I dont want a system which is a resource hog. I just want to use it.
So far I've tried the following.
1.Mandrake 10.1. Will not install properly. The trackpad works during the install but not after.
2. SuSE. Everything installs but it refuses to configure the Wireless card.
3. Yoper. Will not configure X during the install and then crashes.
4. Mepis & Xandros do not even pick up the Wireless card.
5. Ubuntu. Installs the card fine but... Gnome?? The user interface is horrible. fdisk/mbr

I've a good broadband connection so downloading distros is not a problem.

Any suggestions
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RE: What Distro for a Laptop?

Postby davecs » Sun Jun 26, 2005 3:18 pm

Need more info. How much memory, for example?

2nd thing: Is the trackpad "Synaptics"-mouse compatible? If it is, log in as root in Mandrake, run the Mandrake Control Centre and under hardware select the mouse, and select Synaptics Mouse. Then do CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE to restart X. You don't need the mouse to be working, you can do all this from the keyboard!

I am using PCLinuxOS which is nice as long as you have 256Mb RAM as it installs from Live-CD. When I ran it on my laptop, it booted using all the "Synaptics" tricks, but when I booted up the installed version, it worked enough for me to do the above, except of course I had to use PCLinuxOS Control Centre which is based on Mandrake's one. But it was soon working correctly.

Or is it Mandriva?
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RE: What Distro for a Laptop?

Postby nelz » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:37 pm

If you like Ubuntu but hate GNOME, why not try Kubuntu?

Alternatively, you could run the Mandrake Control Centre to configure your trackpaqd.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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RE: What Distro for a Laptop?

Postby bigbee » Sun Jun 26, 2005 5:39 pm

If you don't want a resource hog and a working solution, I would recommand: slackware, debian (or gentoo if you're having a lot of time)
They leave full system customisation up to you (and they are not that difficult if you already have some experience with installers)

For your network card you can have a look at
http://www.stevewatts.com/computers/laptop/ where some drivers are mentioned for the card (those drivers will probably available as modules in slackware, debian installdisks, but I'm not certain)

Myself I have 4 p1 laptops (debian, slackware, bsd, gentoo and LXF) of which 1 has a wireless card and 3 of them running X smoothly. The wireless one runs Debian (but due to 32m ram, I can only use icewm as windowmanager) and I use it for (own) software testing :)
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Postby sandyman » Sun Jun 26, 2005 6:15 pm

Is the trackpad "Synaptics"-mouse compatible? If it is, log in as root in Mandrake, run the Mandrake Control Centre and under hardware select the mouse, and select Synaptics Mouse. Then do CTRL-ALT-BACKSPACE to restart X. You don't need the mouse to be working, you can do all this from the keyboard!


Obviously I don't know the keyboard shortcuts necessary :( To be honest when I found that the trackpad wouldn't work after the install after allowing me to do the install I thought fsck this.

Alternatively, you could run the Mandrake Control Centre to configure your trackpaqd"


See the above.

I have seen (somewhere?) a mention of Kubuntu but was not too sure of trying KDE again. I've a reasonable amount of RAM but from memory KDE is a resource hog. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I had a look at Deb and Slack a while back on a desktop box and to be honest even the FreeBSD installer seemed friendlier. Dselect was a bit of a nightmare as far as I could see. Must confess though when I looked at FreeBSD I was not planning on using X.

I'm probably going to regret it but I'll try Deb again. If not I'll give Kubuntu a go.

Is there any way of installing IceWM on Kubuntu. Couldn't see anything on the Ubuntu site.

I'll let you know how I get on
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Postby towy71 » Sun Jun 26, 2005 7:53 pm

have just installed ubuntu and then done as described below to get Icewm up and working in 10 mins or so. I did not have to do anything other than choose options that are not selected as default, but they are there and simple to use (must be, I used them).
Go to system menu then synaptic, and when that comes up click settings > repositories, in the dialogue box choose add and then select universe and multiverse multiverse. When you click ok synaptic will then update its database so that when you search for Icewm it will find it and all its dependencies and then install. Once installed log out and back in, choosing an Icewm session, and hey presto.
I seriously like any Debian or derivitive because synaptic is such a fine tool for an old idiot like me ;-)

HTH
Dick

ps Icewm is a very bare menu system in ubuntu, you have to customised to get any more than very basic items. ;-)
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Postby sandyman » Mon Jun 27, 2005 6:10 am

Well the kitten woke me up rather early so I decided to have another stab at installing Linux on the laptop. I said I'd have a go at Debian and had downloaded the ISO's overnight.

Aaaargh. Never again. Don't ask..

After that I wasn't even going to consider Slackware or Gentoo.

After an fdisk /mbr etc I stuck in a Kubuntu Cd.

"Control, the Penguin has landed" :)

KDE isn't as bad a resource hog as I feared but not really snappy. I managed to install IceWM but on Kubuntu logging out and then back in doesn't give any options for Window Managers. Tried Googling but no luck so far.

Looks like a serious clean out of software will be required, Open Office for starters. And then stick on some bits and pieces.

I'll give this all a go and let you know how I get on
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Postby sandyman » Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:05 pm

Quick update.

Since it looks OK I've decided to give it a "Real" trial. Instead of dual booting I've now installed it as the only OS. I've decided to give it a one week trial. Fair or unfair? What do folk think? Of the length of the trial period that is.
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Postby Nigel » Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:52 pm

Depends how much you use it during that week...

A week of using it for a couple of hours or more per day should be plenty of time to know whether or not you can live with it long-term.

By the way - I know what you mean about Debian. I believe that once you get past the install/setup it's great, but I never got that far. I have successfully installed Slackware in the past - it may look rather daunting, but it does work !

I'd be interested to hear how you get on with the wireless networking. I have a 3com 3CRPAG175 11g card in my laptop, which currently works fine under WinXP. I'd like to convert the laptop to Linux, but am unsure of getting the wireless stuff working. I connect to two different networks, both of which use WPA encryption, which I believe has limited support so far in Linux. What sort of connection do you have ?
SuSE is my preferred distro, but I'm willing to try something different (I just don't have much time to play around right now).
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Postby LXFRulz » Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:32 pm

I have a toshiba laptop, that I have Ubuntu and Kubuntu on. It is a little hokey to have to log out to shutdown, when I used to just shutdown from my account. However, I totally dig the wireless and Synaptic tool! I'm a convert to Ubuntu. In fact, I have a Compaq presario (333Mhz with 312MB RAM) running Ubuntu with XFCE now. Which was easy as selecting some packages to get up and running!
Good luck with Kubuntu!
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Postby sandyman » Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:45 pm

I'd be interested to hear how you get on with the wireless networking. I have a 3com 3CRPAG175 11g card in my laptop, which currently works fine under WinXP. I'd like to convert the laptop to Linux, but am unsure of getting the wireless stuff working. I connect to two different networks, both of which use WPA encryption, which I believe has limited support so far in Linux. What sort of connection do you have ?


My kit only supports WEP. I know I know security etc. But given my location it's probably not a problem. I will upgrade but only when I can afford it.

Wifi seems to work fine. A couple of blind spots but I have had that recently with XP. Not sure why, it just started happening recently :?

I'll post an update in a week or so
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