Ubuntu seemed to have the best luck on the ugly little laptop, which is what I wanted from the start. I did try a few other distros, but got only mediocre results. I know, most of these problems are probably circumventable (is that a word?), but there’s an entire buffet line of Linux distro options, and I see no need to spend too much time hovering over one small point of any single distro.
Puppy Linux, which I really expected to be a fireball with this one, didn’t have the tulip_cb module I need for the PCMCIA wired adapter. Since it’s the only card I’ve got, it was a bit of a dealbreaker. So while it worked, and quite well, it couldn’t connect me to the Internets, and so I moved on.
Damn Small Linux. Booted cleanly, quickly and to the Fluxbox environment, just how I liked it. But there’s some sort of quirk that causes system-wide lockups when I try to access the Internet. It can recognize the card, I can surf for a while, even play streaming audio. But then, seemingly at random, the whole computer freezes. Popping the network card unlocks it, but reinserting locks it again. Weird, but not worth chasing.
Damn Small Linux-Not. Had the same problem as Puppy. As far as it was concerned, my Xircom Realport card didn’t exist. Or if it did exist, it couldn’t acknowledge it. Which is strange, because DSL-N’s little brother handled it just fine. Sort of.
GeeXBox. A wild shot in the dark, and one that froze before it ever got past the framebuffer “loading” screen. Oh well. It was a small download, and worth a try.
Arch. Can’t go there. A K6-2 is not an i686, so I’m stuck.
Lowarch. Lowarch seemed to want to work, but crapped out around the hardware detection stages. I might try this one again, since it’s more or less the direction I want to go. I’m not thrilled about having to recompile a lot of stuff, which will most definitely happen since the project looks abandoned, but we’ll see.
Gentoo. I’ll probably look into this a little more, but for now I wasn’t having much luck getting past the boot sequence. I have a feeling there are some flags that I need to change. I’ll probably be back for this one.
Minix3. Just for giggles. Minix apparently only handles a few network cards and one or two kinds of drives right now. So while the CD boots and I get a working terminal, I can’t install or connect, and that’s rather primitive, even for me. My Inspiron does have a Pro 100 card in it though, so I might try this on the bigger laptop, when I get a notion to reinstall.
That’s about all for now. I have plans to try some XFCE-based distros next, including Slax, Wolvix, Zenwalk and a couple of others. I also might run past FreeDOS too, just for kicks. But I think eventually the machine will find its way back to Ubuntu. They always do. … ;)