topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • Saturday April 17, 2021, 8:02 am
  • Proudly celebrating 15+ years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: 32bit Linux distro recommendations  (Read 2081 times)

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
32bit Linux distro recommendations
« on: December 16, 2020, 05:47 AM »
Looking for some recommendations for a nix distro for my atom powered netbook.

I've been trying to install a bunch of different distros but none will actually install.  Some just don't boot properly, or go through the install process then still don't boot.

FWIW I'm a total nix noob.  I've toyed briefly with a few live distros over the years but never made the effort to take it seriously. 

I figure now's as good a time as any to make the effort, and hopefully pick up a few new skills


MilesAhead

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2009
  • **
  • Posts: 7,634
    • View Profile
    • Miles Ahead Software
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2020, 09:03 AM »
I found this article with 8 small distros that may work.  First on the list is Puppy Linux.  I did play around with Puppy booting from a USB on an HP Laptop.  It is small and easy to configure.  The WiFi was easy to enable.  I think the HP only had a Celeron CPU so Puppy may be a good one to try first.

tomos

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 11,799
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2020, 09:42 AM »
About eight years ago I installed Puppy "Wary" Linux on a much older laptop. It went well. At the time the Wary version was for older hardware.
See https://www.donation....msg239862#msg239862

Wary is "the Retro Puppy for old hardware"
(now gets s 404 page...)
Tom

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 9,316
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2020, 11:19 AM »
I know this is completely unhelpful, but...

If your netbook is anything like the one I bought ~10 years ago then it was pretty much obsolete trash when it was brand new. Throw that thing in the dumpster and buy a $50-100 Raspberry Pi which is a zillion times better and can run modern 64-bit operating systems.

Seriously. Learning how to use Linux is a difficult enough endeavor. I would not recommend it on ancient hardware that was underpowered even in its prime.

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,791
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2020, 12:46 PM »
If you need a GUI for Linux, I would suggest 'Pop! OS' from System76. That is a computer builder that builds Linux laptops/desktops. With a similar feel as Mac computers/laptops (with a price tag to match). However the take Ubuntu, add their "magic" to the installation .iso and you'll get a really nice Linux experience. Best of all, they offer their installation .iso to download for free.

Unfortunately, you do need a bit of horsepower. But on my second hand Lenovo laptop of 2014, Pop! OS runs really well. A far cry from Windows 8 (that was installed originally) and its migration to Windows 10. After that, the laptop was one pile of crap. Got so fed up with that and tried several Live distros. Pop! OS and Ubuntu Studio were the better ones, but Pop! OS has a slightly better workflow. Tried that for a working day, and did not feel impeded in what I could do when I wanted to.

My laptop is a Lenovo Yoga 500 (a 2-in-1 model). The only change I made was replacing the "rust churning" hard disk with a 120GB SSD I still had laying around. The CPU inside isn't so strong either, but also not as bad as an Atom. So, on your Atom machine you would likely be better off installing a GUI-less Server version of Linux, and then add the lightest GUI you can find for that version of Linux. Unfortunately, doing that throws you immediately into the deep end. Not recommended at all.

Most mini linux versions that run on your Atom machines do not receive much updates anymore. If you want to have an up-to-date kernel and supported code to go with that, you'll need a modern distro. Which in turn requires you to have a bit more computational horsepower than Atom-based systems contain. That does not mean your Atom machine is useless. Once you have enough skill with Linux, you can install Linux without a GUI, install 'webmin' or 'cockpit' (including all their requirements) and you can manage the Atom based machine using your browser on another machine in your network.

As far as I understood, many distros are phasing out 32-bit support completely. So you might get into trouble with the Atom machine anyhow.

Myself, I paid about 100 USD for my Lenovo laptop about a year ago. You might be able to get you a similar deal. I would definitely recommend going that route. Modern Linux distros have come a long, long way.
 

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2020, 04:29 PM »
well, that was interesting, and not at all what I was hoping for.

As I said, I've tried a bunch of live distro's and for the most part they all run fine.  But I don't really want to use a live version, I'd rather setup a regular install which is where the trouble starts.

I've tried puppy (4 versions), peppermint, bodhi, mint, antix, porteus, and several others (after googling for suitable 32bit distro's), both live and (attempted) installs.  And any number of these would probably be suitable if I could only get them to install successfully.  Where I have been able to run thru the install process, the consistent result on reboot is a 'dos' screen with a flashing cursor (not a prompt), and usually a message to the effect that the boot files couldn't be found...

This should be a pretty simple process, especially given that one of the touted benefits of nix is the ability to use it on older hardware.  And FWIW there's absolutely nothing wrong with the netbook, it's been a rock solid little machine that has served me very well.  I understand that its underpowered by today standards (and was probably a little lacking even in the day), but it's still perfectly functional and I'd like to continue to use it albeit in a different role. 

And I really don't see the point of throwing it away just because its old.  I understand its limitations, and am happy to work within them, but buying something else to do the same job isn't a consideration (nor does it need to be)

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,791
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2020, 06:13 PM »
How are you installing Linux?

Do you keep the Windows partition? Or did you let the installer you tried overwrite everything on the hard disk?
When you do the latter, it makes installing Linux much simpler.
But when you have or want a dual boot Atom machine, chances are that the bootloader (GRUB most likely) is getting overwritten during your reboot procedure.

You could try this to attempt to repair the boot sector(s) from the hard drive in your Atom machine. Looks to me one of the easiest boot repair tools to use. Once the boot sector(s) are set correctly, the GRUB bootloader can find the boot files it needs in the location where it expects these files to be. Once it does you should get a very basic screen with several boot options. By default the most likely boot option you need is already pre-selected and you can either wait a few seconds or hit the 'Enter' key to continue.

If you fancy a dual boot machine, better install Windows first, then Linux. The GRUB bootloader is able to cope with Windows. The Windows bootloader is (and likely never will be) capable to "see" an existing Linux installation. Dual boot is not what I would recommend though.

Is the Atom machine easy to open? If it is, I would exchange the current hard disk with a fresh SSD drive. A 120 GByte model should not be too expensive. That way you would not lose anything you have stored on that machine and you have a fresh drive to start and play with Linux. With an easy to open case you could exchange drives when needed. May be the best way to go about it anyway, as you won't lose any data accidentally. Within Linux it is not a problem to read files/folders from a NTFS (or FAT32) partition, but where things may go awry is writing to such a partition. Especially with stripped down versions of Linux like Puppy Linux, Tiny Linux, Porteus, etc.

For example: next year my router PC will be 15 years old. In my network there are 3 more computers that are 10+ years old. One of these is still a Pentium 4 class PC. All stuff I want to backup from other computers (Windows/Linux) in the network are stored on this Pentium 4 class PC by each client PC. The only thing the P4 machine does is creating archives from the collected files and fill backup files with these archives using Bacula. The P4 machine has a GUI-less Linux on it and the system is managed by through a web interface called: webmin. 5 to 6 hours it is busy creating archives, the rest of the time it is receiving files to backup and generating (graphical) reports from the backups, which can be accessed through another web-interface. If it wasn't for the pending drop of 32-bit support in Ubuntu Server editions, this little machine would still function just fine.

The example above hopefully shows that we share a similar mindset regarding old hardware. Re-purpose is the name of that game.

Not to offend, but the suggestion of my previous post: get a slightly better laptop and try a full-fledged version of Linux on that, still stands. All those small Linux distros have one thing in common, compromises in software and functionality in one way or another. Those compromises are likely to bite you in the end, unlike a full version of Linux.

My previous post also suggested to wait with Linux on the Atom machine until you feel confident enough that you can re-purpose it for tasks running on a Server edition of Linux without GUI, which is so much easier on the available resources in your Atom machine. It could become your own personal DNS server, for example. Or let it monitor all traffic in your network. Perhaps use it to manage 2 to 3 (lower resolution) security cameras for your house. Or other similar tasks you deem useful.


Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2020, 06:45 PM »



Appreciate your time in responding :Thmbsup:

How are you installing Linux?

I've sourced the various ISO's and written them to a multiboot USB stick, then booting a distro from usb and selecting install

Do you keep the Windows partition?

No.  I swapped out with a 'spare' 256Gb SSD.  Drive was formatted to ext(x) then I let the installer choose what to do with it (some overwrite everything, some don't)

Not to offend, but the suggestion of my previous post: get a slightly better laptop and try a full-fledged version of Linux on that, still stands.


no offence taken  8).  This is not my everyday machine (have a current desktop for that), it is more of a convenience (like a more capable tablet) that I use for a variety of things (nothing serious) at different times.  The intent here is to teach myself some nix familiarity/capability so a desktop type setup seems like the most suitable option, and I don't want to have to faff about with a live distro all the time (for obvious reasons).  Given that purchasing another machine just for this doesn't really make a lot of sense, nor does it make good use of the stuff I've already got. 

All those small Linux distros have one thing in common, compromises in software and functionality in one way or another. Those compromises are likely to bite you in the end, unlike a full version of Linux.

Given that I have no real knowledge or experience with linux at the moment I'm unlikely to recognise or understand what those compromises are.  Should I get to a point where I need/want a full time linux environment then clearly I would need to consider the hardware components.  Just at the moment though this isn't on my radar

Deozaan

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Points: 1
  • Posts: 9,316
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2020, 01:12 AM »
My previous response was a little stronger than I intended. I guess I'm still disappointed in my purchase I made all those years ago. :D

One of the most lightweight Linux distributions (with a desktop environment) I remember having success with on my netbook was CrunchBang. Unfortunately it has been discontinued for many years now. But maybe you can find an archive of an installation ISO somewhere and use it, since it's likely that your netbook won't have hardware newer than the last version of CrunchBang.

panzer

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2008
  • *
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 941
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2020, 01:20 AM »
BunsenLabs Linux Lithium is a distribution offering a light-weight and easily customizable Openbox desktop. The project is a community continuation of CrunchBang Linux:
https://www.bunsenlabs.org/

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2020, 03:51 AM »
Update - tonite I was able to successfully install mint BUT grub (apparently) failed to install.

One step forward and...

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2020, 04:20 PM »
My previous response was a little stronger than I intended. I guess I'm still disappointed in my purchase I made all those years ago. :D

HA!  its all good, but its interesting to see how long the sour taste of a disappointing purchase lasts!!

One of the most lightweight Linux distributions (with a desktop environment) I remember having success with on my netbook was CrunchBang. Unfortunately it has been discontinued for many years now.

seems like there are a couple of forks - here's one

4wd

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 5,493
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2020, 05:47 PM »
I installed Bodhi Linux on my Acer Aspire One, (Atom N270), and it ran well, you need the Legacy release.

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2020, 06:54 PM »
been looking at the setup again this morning and it appears that in order to install you must already have a suitably partitioned disk

I ran through the (mint) install again but used the options to setup partitions for boot and install...

still didn't work though...

4wd

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 5,493
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2020, 04:20 AM »
If your netbook is anything like the one I bought ~10 years ago then it was pretty much obsolete trash when it was brand new. Throw that thing in the dumpster  and buy a $50-100 Raspberry Pi which is a zillion times better and can run modern 64-bit operating systems.

Or install a Linux distro on it and sell it on ebay for $50, then buy a new RasPi ... like I did last year ;)

But seriously for what it was back then, a sub-1kg netbook that could let me browse, email, etc, didn't cost the Earth (unlike other lightweight options), and that travelled at least 3 times around the planet (throw it in a neoprene sleeve then into the backpack) ... it was brilliant.

Especially when compared to my previous 15" laptop that weighed 2.5kg that I dragged around the planet, (through UK, Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China) ... that gets old very, very quickly.

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2020, 02:39 AM »
and on it goes...

got Grub installed, and it boots to a menu listing Mint (woohoo...)

boot mint and splash screen comes up, but it resolves to a command prompt of some sort (with a 'type help for a list of commands' message)

meh...

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,791
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2020, 12:03 PM »
Sounds like you ended up in the Grub shell environment.

This forum post on the Linux Mint forum should be helpful.
https://forums.linux...87727ed7f116#p735581

Also, a boot partition on a hard disk needs to have a specific bit set. This is normally managed by the installation software. More specifically, the automatic partition part of the installer.
You can check with partition management software (based on Linux/Windows, it doesn't matter) to check if that bit is set. Now it is unlikely that this bit got reset somewhere during your installation, but if it did, you can spend quite a while before you check this and find that this was the problem all along.

Linux Mint has a pretty descriptive manual for installing their operating system. Perhaps this page can help you find out what your problem is (the bottom half).

This is a link for fixing Grub from the Grub shell, if you want to go that way.

All these installation issues make you see Linux from a not so flattering side.

But Windows 10 also comes with its own problems. This is the latest one

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2020, 10:42 PM »
thanks for that, I'll have to work through it :Thmbsup:

Sounds like you ended up in the Grub shell environment.

actually it was busybox (and that was referenced on one of those links, thanks!)

Also, a boot partition on a hard disk needs to have a specific bit set. This is normally managed by the installation software.

this is what I would have expected, but I'm going to have to work through this slowly cos I have no familiarity with nix setups.

I'm actually wondering if the setup isn't selecting the USB as the boot drive.  I noticed in the manual partition setup that was the default, but i'll need to dig into it a bit further

All these installation issues make you see Linux from a not so flattering side.

it does kind of take the shine off all that 'easy to use' propaganda :)

But Windows 10 also comes with its own problems.

fair to say thats pretty standard for windows 'updates' so it probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone.

FWIW the SSD I used came out of my old win10 desktop.  The interesting bit is that the netbook booted into win10 straight away, no questions asked.  Impressed me no end considering whats under the hood
« Last Edit: December 19, 2020, 10:50 PM by Target »

Shades

  • Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 2,791
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2020, 03:37 PM »
FWIW the SSD I used came out of my old win10 desktop.  The interesting bit is that the netbook booted into win10 straight away, no questions asked.  Impressed me no end considering whats under the hood

Gives me the impression that there is something going wrong with the boot partition on your drive. You better use a proper partition management tool to completely wipe all partitions from that SSD. On Windows my personal preference is MiniTool Partition Wizard. But Acronis is also OK. The partition manager built into Windows itself isn't that great, so I would not use that to wipe a drive clean. GParted on Linux is also OK to wipe all muck from a hard disk.

As a contrast, including the download of the installation iso (2.1 GByte) it took me about 20 minutes to install Pop! OS on my laptop, a Lenovo Yoga 500 (14IBD). The only thing I changed on that laptop was exchanging the 500GB hard-disk with a 120GB SSD (Samsung 850 EVO). Also a drive that was used as a boot drive in a Windows computer.

Swapping drives between Windows computers I have done before. Usually Windows will remain working if you swap from one Intel based system to another Intel based system. Or from a AMD based system to another AMD based system (especially when these processors are from the same "family"). Windows often balks when you swap from Intel to AMD or the other way around.

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2020, 04:12 PM »
Gives me the impression that there is something going wrong with the boot partition on your drive. You better use a proper partition management tool to completely wipe all partitions from that SSD. On Windows my personal preference is MiniTool Partition Wizard. But Acronis is also OK. The partition manager built into Windows itself isn't that great, so I would not use that to wipe a drive clean. GParted on Linux is also OK to wipe all muck from a hard disk.

thats a pretty safe bet  ;D

FWIW the drives been wiped a few times now (its part of the mint setup) so a windows based solution is out of the question.

My guess is that the boot procedure is pointing to the wrong place, but I don't know how to diagnose that

erikts

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 187
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2021, 10:25 AM »
I have successfully revived an Asus EEEPC (Atom) by installing LXLE.
32 and 64 bit OS versions available.

https://lxle.net/

Target

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 1,783
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: 32bit Linux distro recommendations
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2021, 04:26 PM »
Solution found - after googling for some time I found a reference to Ubuntu's 'boot repair tool' which solved the problem. 

Strangely it isn't included in the distros despite the fact that this seems to be a common problem.  Most 'answers' point to a file system corruption of some sort, but clearly this isn't always the problem or the solution and nobody seemed to acknowledge that.

I've subsequently moved to a puppy install as I found some of the windows in Mint wouldn't resize to fit my screen...

« Last Edit: January 08, 2021, 07:17 PM by Target »