Some more unfortunate experiences

I have some more unfortunate experiences to report for my ugly little laptop.

I’m willing to call it lack of experience, but Gentoo has staged (no pun intended) a mini-revolt on this machine. The live CD won’t run, of course, since it’s meant for i686 machines. And the minimal installation CD hangs after it detects the CPU. Like I said, I’m sure it’s something I need to do differently, but I’ve tried everything in my shallow bag of tricks, and it’s not playing along. Sigh.

ReactOS, which seems to be somebody’s darling these days, sounded like an interesting idea. It’s in a quasi-alpha state right now, and while it would install and there was a loading screen … that’s all there was. I don’t criticize that since it’s a work in progress, but I did have my fingers crossed. I know for some people ReactOS would be the be-all, end-all operating system, but I can’t expect that to happen very soon. It started in 1996 and it’s still aimed at NT compatibility? Sorry to be a naysayer, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that one. …

PCLinuxOS wouldn’t boot for me, or rather it booted many times for me. Again, and again, and again. It’s possible it just doesn’t like my i586 machine (Gentoo doesn’t seem to, and neither does Arch), but I never got past the boot menu options splash screen. It is a nice splash screen, though. Ubuntu would do well to pick up something equally classy.

Windows 95, now with USB support! Okay, just as a joke I tried an ancient Windows 95 CD I pulled out of a decrepit Pentium machine last year. Maybe the disc is bad or maybe the drive can’t sense it, but it won’t boot at all. So don’t feel bad, PCLinuxOS fans. Windows couldn’t do the job either.

Aside from those four, I’m trying to give elive every last benefit of the doubt. If installation ever finishes, I might be able to take it for a spin. Otherwise it’s going to end up in a post like this one. … :(

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8 Responses to “Some more unfortunate experiences”


  1. 1 Tistje 2007/09/22 at 1:59 AM

    Maybe hardware issues??? Corrupt memory or something. Many distro’s have a memtest+ option at boot, to check your memory.

    Also, puppy linux (http://www.puppylinux.org/user/viewpage.php?page_id=1) might give you a pleasant (read fast) experience (I know it did for me on a 266Mhz K6 128MB RAM system).

  2. 2 tactus 2007/09/22 at 10:19 AM

    I have an old inhered IBM Aptiva ca nine years old. It’s a k6 something with ATI Rave/rage or something. (Who cares?) I’ve only managed to install Debian (stable) on it, everything else panic or reboot. You should check it out. Maybe it works for you as well. ;)

  3. 3 Isaac Geronimo 2007/09/22 at 7:59 PM

    Windows 95 could boot from CD? I don’t even remember if Windows 98 did, but then again whenever I’d reinstall the OS (between doing it myself and for others, it was nearly too often”) I would use the “emergency boot disk” floppy to load CD drivers in order to copy the installation files to a freshly-formatted hard disk.

    I’m rather enjoying following your continuing adventures with this little laptop. I’ve got a Pentium 200 MHz laptop with 160 MB RAM downstairs (currently serving as USB print server and “really slow machine”) that I’d like to tinker around with. Between DSL 1.5, Puppy Linux 2.10, QNX Momentics and Fluxbuntu “nBuild 1″ live CDs, I’d have to say that the Fluxbuntu seemed to hold the most promise.

    I did have it running for a while as a temporary PC for my mom (with connected monitor, keyboard and mouse) with a Debian netinst setup, which was a little slow but surprisingly usable. Right now, it’s running… Windows Millennium… because. I’ve used Windows 98 SE way too much, and ME does have some usability features that I like!

    I’m definitely testing more distributions out on it once I supply an interim replacement print server, though. Maybe BeOS or Haiku or something? Windows XP (ah ha, ha).

  4. 4 K.Mandla 2007/09/22 at 8:05 PM

    :) I’m sure Win98 did boot from CD, and I’m 99 percent this Win95 CD has booted for me in the past. I installed it on an old Pentium II last year, as a troubleshooting measure. I suppose it’s altogether possible that I accidentally swapped CDs on myself, but I don’t think so.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the saga. I was worried it would be rather boring, although I suppose it has an occasional high point. Cheers!

  5. 5 lefty.crupps 2007/09/23 at 1:14 AM

    One great trick I’ve learned for loading Linux onto laptops is this:
    Take the hard drive out of the computer and attach it to a better machine!

    Either a more powerful laptop or even a desktop (with an adapter for the HDD interface), this allows for the contents to be read and installed from the CD onto the hard drive, where you then can set up appropriate SWAP space and the rest of the setup. Because Linux generally keeps all of its drivers in the kernel, unless you custom compile your kernel, its very likely that the new hardware (once put back into the laptop) will still be recognized and used just fine.

    Generally, I let the installation’s first boot come from the destination machine, since a distro may try to customize it a bit at the initial ‘real’ boot; but for the install, its usually a generic image that can be performed anywhere. It also helps when the laptop’s CD drive is questionable or just too slow or won’t read a CD-R.

    With some Debian experience, a Debian Etch install is a good choice since you can start the basic minimal (net) install and then add to it once the laptop is running. Apt-Get all that you need and have it be a customized machine! (I fought a Dell Latitude CP (Pent1) with this for a while — i finally learned that there were specific kernel parameters to add for some machines, and one that i picked worked. Moral — look into some of the more advanced Boot options!)

    Good luck!

  6. 6 puuque 2007/09/23 at 4:18 AM

    Why don’t you try DesktopBSD (FreeBSD made easy). It supports nearly everything and should be fine with your hardware. You can also try running Ubuntu with a different window manger, like fvwm-crystal or enlightenment (e17).

  7. 7 K.Mandla 2007/09/23 at 6:18 AM

    @lefty.crupps: Those are good ideas, thanks. I do actually have another laptop that’s about twice as fast; maybe I’ll try that out, even just for the experience.

    @puuque: Good idea. If I decide to try out some more distros, I’ll poke around with that one. Right now I want to work a little more with Ubuntulite, particularly since the Gutsy beta is due in a few days. Perhaps next month I’ll look it over. Cheers!

  8. 8 anticapitalista 2007/09/23 at 9:20 AM

    Don’t forget to give antiX-M7 a try when it goes final (probably at the end of the month).

    I’m now trying out Ubuntulite (in VirtualBox) and , though I like the idea, it is slow to get the stuff from the net. Ok for experienced users of linux, but otherwise forget it. I mention this ‘cos people have asked me for a ‘netinstall’ type for antiX via debian and Mepis. Nice idea but for small distros, flawed.


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