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Author Topic: OS recommendations for Pent.III 128MB laptop  (Read 9607 times)
tomos
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« on: March 01, 2011, 03:33:25 PM »

Looking for recommendation for an OS for an old laptop (oooh, a 5:4 screen Kiss )

Specs: It's an Acer TravelMate 611WXV ("610 series" also has "Model Nr. ([Japanese characters here]) 2009").
Current OS is Windows ME - in a language I dont understand

All I know about the thing is
  • Pentium III 850Mhz
  • 128 MB RAM

specs probably something like this.
I could add 256MB for around 30 euro see

Uses: Want a machine mainly just for writing. I will mainly use it offline (and wouldnt mind if it were completely offline)

RE OS install I have done a few but really am mostly pretty challenged by it. So ideally something simple!

Possible Options:

1) I'd really love to be able to install XP (familiarity of XP) but this machine couldnt handle it with that memory - could a stripped down (nlite) version work though? (if so any tips there?) I could invest in the extra memory to bring it up to 384mb...  [edit] see also post #2 [/edit]
2) then there's the world of free OS's - absolutely no experience here. As long as it's easy to install. I have no idea about drivers here (in fact I've no idea about drivers for XP embarassed either*)
3) I also have a copy of windows 98... but think I'D prefer option #2 smiley


* On the Acer drivers page, it offers drivers for Windows 2000 up to XP. Nothing for Linux...
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 03:38:18 PM by tomos » Logged

Tom
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2011, 03:33:53 PM »

I found this from scancode in the thread "Turning Windows 2003 Server into a workstation?"
NOTE: no drivers on offer for Windows Server 2003 but just wondering would it be worth it trying to strip out all these services (list in spoiler below) from XP with hopefully similar success (see his specs below)

I've been running on eXPerience's Micro2003 for a while (over 10 months), and simply love it.
Also used a clean install of 2003EE, and worked fine. It's a really good Desktop OS.

on a system with:
Quote
128 mb ram
800mhz processor
1GB HDD

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Tom
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2011, 03:47:09 PM »

If you buy the extra memory, XP will probably run quite nicely on it (but not very quick though). But be sure to get hold of all hardware-drivers. This Microsoft page could assist in checking the hardware.

If you are going to use it for writing, is the built-in keyboard good enough for that, or are you adding an extra keyboard?
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EĆ³in
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 03:52:33 PM »

Win2k would run extremely well on such an OS. Also I imagine with some nlitening beforehand, and judiciously application of Black Vipers guides, I bet you could get an excellent and nippy XP install up and going.

Unfortunately, with so little RAM, I'd say Linux is a big no go. Perhaps some of the ultra lite distros would work, but they tend to be crap Cool

[edit] to summarise - try the XP road first  Thmbsup
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tomos
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2011, 04:04:29 PM »

thanks Ath & EĆ³in, I'm happiest with XP (dont have a copy of 2000, although I could probably buy a copy fairly cheap...)

If you are going to use it for writing, is the built-in keyboard good enough for that, or are you adding an extra keyboard?

it's a high quality machine, build anways. Keyboard feels good - it's slightly curved (ergonomic). Size is good too. So I prob wont be using external keyboard. I really just want a machine to mess around on a bit though...

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Tom
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 04:09:32 PM »

Put XP on it.  Like Ath says, I think you'll be surprised how well it runs.  If you don't like how it runs, try something else.   cheesy
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Edvard
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« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 04:36:01 PM »

I'll agree with most sentiments here that XP should do you just fine.
The minimum specs are 233MHz and 128MB, so maybe disable as many services as you can stand, use the 'Classic' interface to reduce your memory footprint, and +1 for giving it an nLite shakedown.
Plus, your familiarity with XP means you know what to expect and how to use it as soon as it gets installed, so spare you some possible frustration.
I'd also go for the extra 256MB especially if you plan on keeping this laptop around for a while, every little bit helps to extend it's life.

As far as Free OS's, I hope you brought a can opener for those worms  Wink.
You say you want something as easy as XP to install, and to be honest, I've had most Linux installs go much easier than Windows, even though they might seem more complicated at the time.
It's what you do after it's installed that will be uncharted territory for you.

I agree many of the big-name Linux distros (Ubuntu, Suse, Fedora, etc.) won't be very comfy on what you have, but I had good experiences with Debian Stable on even lower-spec machines.
Still easy to use, but without a whole lot of 'extra' to get tangled in (saving memory), and it'll have a full complement of drivers, so hopefully no issues there.
Just do a little reading to get familiar with Debian's "APT" software management system, and you'll be trying out writing tools in no time.

For low memory and speed requirements, I recommend Slitaz or Puppy.
I've ran them both on a 400MHz laptop with 128MB, and both ran very well, despite EĆ³in's comments.   Wink
They're both designed to run from a CD or USB so you can try them out right away, but can be installed very easily to the hard drive, which would save memory.
The tradeoff is there will be some learning and setup involved, which might be more than you want to tackle for just a writing machine, and especially since you don't have experience with alternative OS's, but it's there if you're game...
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app103
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 04:44:00 PM »

I would recommend the memory upgrade and installing XP. But I'd make a list of all the hardware and make sure there are XP drivers for everything, first.

If you decide to go with XP, use a classic theme and not the FisherPrice XP Luna crap. If it runs way too sluggish and locks up on you every few seconds, turn the desktop color settings down to medium (16 bit) and/or use a lower resolution. (I had to do this on my snail)

Do not install Win98 unless it is a last resort, again, making sure there are drivers for everything first. While Win98 drivers (and some Win95 ones) generally work well with WinME, the reverse isn't a good idea. Don't use WinME drivers with Win98.  

Another option is to make a backup of the drivers currently installed on it (you should do this any way, just in case) and consider getting a full retail copy of WinME (trust me on this one and stay away from OEM and upgrade versions). Since that is what it is currently running, you know there are drivers for it and can use the backup if you need to. If you do decide to install a copy of ME on it, contact me privately and I'll give you some tips from personal experience to make it a nicer ride, rather than the nightmares you have heard about.

Keep in mind that any 9x/ME option will greatly limit the software you can run on it, forcing you to have to hunt down and use outdated versions in a lot of cases. Because the older versions are unsupported, you will be limited to mostly old freeware and old stuff sold in boxes (you can't buy a brand new license for older stuff, as the keys provided probably won't work in older versions in most cases) This could also mean security holes and bugs that you won't be getting any fixes for, and there won't be any for the OS itself, either. This is also the case with 2k, with regards to OS updates, and some developers are dropping 2k support in their software, so as time goes on, it will suffer the same plight as 9x/ME. This is why I'd advise this only as a last resort.
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f0dder
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 05:52:01 PM »

I wouldn't like XP on 128 megs of ram - nLite would definitely be required, but even with that, given SP3's bloat? Ugh. If you could stuff in 256 it's doable, with 512 it'd be enjoyable.

But win2k? That's definitely doable on 128meg. I used to run it on a 700MHz Athlon with 160 megs of ram, and stuff like Visual Studio 6 ran just fine.
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 05:58:15 PM »

I ran Mandrake 9.1 fine on a machine with specs very close to yours.  It was a Gateway desktop Pentium III 550 MHz with 128 MB ram.

I believe I had OS/2 3.0 installed on the same machine. I was a bit sluggish with only 128 MB ram.  But Mandrake screamed on that machine!! Running XWindows with XEmacs and other Gui apps the machine had very snappy response.  Also the drivers included with Mandrake 9.1 may be a good fit for that machine.

If you try the install and it doesn't go smoothly then just wipe the disk when you install XP.  To install Mandrake without broadband you may want to look for a 3 CD set of .iso images to avoid having to download any packages.  But for editors and common apps I'd be surprised if everything you needed wasn't on the first CD.


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tomos
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2011, 10:47:15 AM »

many thanks for all the tips, everyone!! smiley

I thought I'd try the linux route first and if it got too painful (!) then to think about the windows options (i reckoned the windows route was going to be painful anyways..)
Well I have now made the plunge, with thanks to Edvard:

For low memory and speed requirements, I recommend Slitaz or Puppy.
I've ran them both on a 400MHz laptop with 128MB, and both ran very well, despite EĆ³in's comments.   Wink
They're both designed to run from a CD or USB so you can try them out right away, but can be installed very easily to the hard drive, which would save memory.
The tradeoff is there will be some learning and setup involved, which might be more than you want to tackle for just a writing machine, and especially since you don't have experience with alternative OS's, but it's there if you're game...



with Puppy "Wary" version 5(xx) installed - on the harddrive - looks great doesnt it smiley
Wary is "the Retro Puppy for old hardware"

there were a few hiccups -
the optical drive could not read CDs but can read DVDs!
There were a few steps in the install where I didnt have a clue (e.g. video drivers, but winged it and all was fine)
I couldnt get Grub leacy to work but Grub DOS found everything automatically (or maybe I had to find the new harddrive/partition path)

It seems to be fine now, I've rebooted successfully a couple of times now. It seems very fast: so far I've just tried the wordprocessor (Gnome Office?/AbiWord). And had a play with InkScape Lite.
I think I'm converted cheesy


[edit] I was impressed how helpful the install was, I had to use gParted to change the format - I had used that before, so that helped. But in general very user friendly, and you could tell it was written by humans :-) [/edit]
« Last Edit: March 03, 2011, 10:53:08 AM by tomos » Logged

Tom
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2011, 03:26:24 PM »

 Thmbsup greenclp Thmbsup
Looks great!

Glad to hear it went (mostly) well.
The CD bug is strange, never seen that one before.  huh
Grub pathing is less than intuitive and they've changed it a couple times now, so you're not alone; it confuses me as well.

Quote
I was impressed how helpful the install was, I had to use gParted to change the format - I had used that before, so that helped. But in general very user friendly, and you could tell it was written by humans :-)

That is one feature I did like about Puppy; the folks who put it together have tried to balance the austerity with a certain type and level of user-friendliness I've been hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
One thing that has bugged me in the past is that almost every Puppy Linux fan I communicated with via mailinglist would end their post "I love my Puppy!"  undecided
Since trying it myself, I couldn't bring myself to exactly agree, but at least I now understand where the sentiment comes from.

Now the challenge will be to use it for actual work you intended to do and resist the urge to play. Grin
Welcome to Penguin-land, Tomos, hope you enjoy the ride!  Thmbsup
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2011, 03:38:38 PM »


Welcome to Penguin-land, Tomos, hope you enjoy the ride!  :Thmbsup


@Edvard - You da man! Don't you just love when that happens? Grin

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Edvard
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2011, 04:04:06 PM »

Hey now, I can't take any credit; it was Tomos who took the plunge, I only made a few humble recommendations.  embarassed

I'm just glad it turned out less painful than it could have been.
I've lost my fair share of scalpage wrestling with Grub and installations that don't go quite right, so relatively painless installs, as common as they are lately, I still meet with a certain degree of relieved anxiety.

That said, I'm also willing to get in the hot seat and lend a hand if something goes wrong down the line.
Are ya with me?
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tomos
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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2011, 04:24:18 PM »

That said, I'm also willing to get in the hot seat and lend a hand if something goes wrong down the line.

I'm sure I'll have a few questions but guess I should have a good look around first...
actually if you could refer me to a good introduction of the (very) basics I might need or need to understand (does that exist!?). I dont know is this typical linux or how variable the version are...

Also, you say above:
> Just do a little reading to get familiar with Debian's "APT" software management system, and you'll be trying out writing tools in no time.
You know I meant just "writing" - not coding lol - you really think I need to understand that tellme
any good easy links on that - I'm spoiled now by the easy install - I want it all to be easy now :-)
But I'm not really a look-under-the-hood type: until I need to, I'll avoid that like the plague embarassed

did find this
http://www.techrepublic.c...ge-tool-in-debian/6104158
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« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2011, 05:35:06 PM »

APT is easy to use.  That's what's so good about it. I've been away from Linux for a long time.  I'll leave nuts & bolts advice to those still steeped in it.  But one thing that may be handy is to read up a bit on bash shell. You can do scripting with it.  But aside from complicated scripts you can also create an alias for a complicated command.  An alias is just a place holder or macro that's translated by the shell into what you assign it.

This page shows a few examples:

http://linuxreviews.org/quicktips/alias/

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« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2011, 05:57:42 PM »

Are ya with me?

We are ready to rock Mr. E!  Grin

Shred time!



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« Reply #17 on: March 04, 2011, 01:45:44 AM »

@40Hz
 Grin Awesome!  Thmbsup

@Tomos
Yes, I knew you were talking about writing, as in novels, poems and short stories, not pointers, variables and API calls.  Grin

Since AbiWord is installed by default, you should be good to go with that.
I've used AW successfully on Windows when OpenOffice was too much (slow computer, dialup internet) and WordPad just wasn't enough.
It has it's own native format, but can also write .doc files that I've never had a problem with Office users reading.

From what I remember, Puppy doesn't use the APT system, but it does have it's own nice little package manager that doesn't have to involve any arcane special commands or anything, although you can do that if you want.
http://www.puppylinux.com...nt/package-management.htm

Most all Linuces are very similar under the hood, and anything that needs to be done in a command-line terminal should work no matter where you are.
It's the User Interface that is most variable across distributions, and documentation ranges from nonexistent to way-too-technical.
Unfortunately, both extremes are the most common; fortunately for YOU, Puppy has a very comprehensive HOWTO section accessible from the Start menu, a pretty active forum, and the Puppylinux.com FAQ can usually point you in the right direction.
http://www.puppylinux.com/faq.htm
http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/

Have fun!
« Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 03:21:54 PM by Edvard » Logged

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tomos
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« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2011, 01:49:19 PM »



thanks Edvard thumbs up
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Tom
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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2011, 06:32:25 PM »

btw in case anyone else has a Pentium III and wants to try Mandrake 9.1 I found the iso images are still available from the source:

http://distrib-coffee.ips...nux/official/iso/9.1/ppc/

For contemporary machines you can get the OneCD here:

http://www.mandriva.com/en/downloads/one/

edit: if you are tempted to try Mandrake I would go with the 3 iso images. Mainly because if you download applications you may run into updated versions that require newer kernels or some other mismatch.  The CD images should have all the apps you need and fit the kernel that's installed with Mandrake 9.1.

Easiest may be to boot a Live CD and try some of the word processors and editors.  The thing that put me off most about Linux was the lack of editors I liked that had Windows like key bindings.  It's too distracting concentrating on how to use the editor instead of what you are typing in the thing.  Then again, if you go with total immersion you may pick it up quickly. I scared myself by almost starting to understand the vi mind set.

I tried all the editors and word processors I could find that were supposed to be "Windows like" and didn't like any of 'em.  The kylix IDE editor came closest since the key bindings and the feel were nearly identical to Delphi Windows IDE.  But if you're going to go with only Linux OS might as well get your feet wet with vi, emacs and the whole bunch.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 10:08:27 PM by MilesAhead » Logged

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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2011, 07:26:25 PM »

My vote goes with memory upgrade (as much as it will support/you can afford) and Windows XP.

Biggest problem I have found on systems is that a combination of SP3 and even the lightest antivirus (both essential if you are working online) push the minimum requirements way above MS's stated minimum - unless you want to die of terminal boredom with all the disk swapping. I'd say 512Mb is a good basic minimum which leaves some overhead for getting things done - 256 is just about usable but there will be a lot of disk thrashing!

If you are going to stay offline don't bother with SP3 or any security software and use nlite to minimise the installation and it should work fine with 256Mb or more. If you are using Office stick with an old copy (such as Office 97 or 2000) which was much lighter on resources and a good suite of programs.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 07:29:06 PM by Carol Haynes » Logged

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