Running Linux on an old laptop
February 3, 2005 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Laptop from the late silurian period, want to run linux. Specific problems inside.[+]

It's a Dell Inspiron 3200 with a 233 processor and 32 megs of ram. It's intended to be the computer that's always in the living room for web browsing while watching tv. Here's the situation:

-distros running the 2.6 kernel will not install because the cd can't be found when the install checks for it (it will boot and then halt when the installation media check arrives. No clue why.)

-kernels after 2.2 don't support the laptop's pcmcia device (TI 1131)

-I am using a a linksys WPC54G wireless card, so I need to use Ndiswrapper. This requires a late 2.4 or a 2.6 kernel.

I'm not going to switch any hardware-- this is to be zero investment and I can run windows 2000 if I have to. But I want linux. Does anyone see a solution to this problem?

Is there a way to get a 2.6 kernel distro to boot and then add support for pcmcia (and possibly my cd drive?) Or is there a better solution all together? Or should I just scrap the idea and install 2000?

If I need it, I have a more robust machine running suse 9.1. Perhaps I can compile stuff there and sneakernet it to the laptop?
posted by Mayor Curley to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
 
The simple solution might be telling me how to get Damn Small Linux .9 to recognize my pcmcia device, because it has Ndiswrapper included and installs very nicely. Please keep in mind that DSL doesn't have a compiler.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:35 AM on February 3, 2005


If you have any choice in what Cardbus driver you use, try the "yenta" or "yenta-socket" driver. It should include support for the TI-1131 chipset. Try to avoid using the pcmcia-cs drivers, as they're more made for old PCMCIA chipsets and cards, not the newer PCI-based Cardbus, which your laptop has. yenta has been in the Linux kernel since at least 2.4.
posted by zsazsa at 12:12 PM on February 3, 2005


Your laptop might be failing for reasons other than hardware detection... try something like damn small linux with the following options:

noacpi acpi=off

... or...

noapic nolapic

I was having trouble booting my laptop under linux 'till I got that sorted out. (I'm using ubuntu, by the way, and it functions perfectly on my laptop...)

One of the cool things about damn small linux, though, is that you can get it to boot off one of those usb drives.
posted by ph00dz at 12:52 PM on February 3, 2005


distros running the 2.6 kernel will not install because the cd can't be found when the install checks for it (it will boot and then halt when the installation media check arrives. No clue why.)

Can you clarify this? Are you booting off a floppy? If you can boot from a cd, this strikes me as very strange behavior. Is it repeatable with different distros? Have you tried booting any live cd distros?

What ph00dz says about ACPI makes some sense (this is a pre-ACPI computer, right?), but I can't understand why it would affect the CD drive. Or even why a distro would be trying to start ACPI stuff during installation: they tend to boot into a really minimal mode. Then again, it's been awhile since I've gotten my hands dirty with this stuff....
posted by mr_roboto at 1:39 PM on February 3, 2005


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