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I'm going to try Linux on an old laptop, a little help plz.


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#1 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 06:12 AM

I've got a Sony Vaio which is about 10 years old and never used.

 

It's got Win XP on it which has to go.

 

I run Speccy on it and it shows:

 

Intel Celeron 345

512MB DDR

Sony Notebook LCD on Radeon IGP 345M

Hard Disk has 37GB capacity

 

Will a Linux system run on this?

 

I aim to use for perhaps email and web browsing only, so any advice on what Linux OS to pick.

 

I'd prefer something that easy for dummies as opposed to something which enthusiasts would enjoy.  My other half might end up using it too and she is less computer savvy than myself.

 

Any advice on installing to HD which currently has Win XP in situ would be great.

 

Regards, Dave.


Edited by Red Kelt, 11 June 2014 - 06:20 AM.


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#2 Al1000

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:15 AM

You should certainly be able to run Puppy on that. All of the latest standard versions of Puppy I have tried run on my old laptop which is only slightly higher spec than yours, with plenty of resources to spare.

 

It might even run Linux Lite 2.0 which I have just installed on my desktop pc, as I understand that 512MB of RAM is all it requires. No doubt there will be many other similar lightweight distros you could try.

 

One thing I would personally advise researching is whether Sony ''tattoos'' their hard drives, which could mean that you would have to flash the BIOS in order to be able to install any operating system other than the one that came with the laptop. As far as I understand, the BIOS in some laptops checks the hardrive for the ''tattoo'' on bootup, and if the ''tattoo'' isn't there, because for example you formatted the hard drive to install another operating system, the computer won't boot. I could be wrong on this, but this is what I read when I considered installing a Linux operating system on my laptop.

 

In any event, Puppy is designed to run as a ''live'' operating system, even though it can be installed to a hard drive. Without installing it to hard drive, and unless your computer can boot from USB, you would have to boot from CD with Puppy like I do. But it's easy to set up, as the options are all self-explanatory, so that it boots and loads drivers from CD, then loads everything else from a savefile which it creates on a USB (or the hard drive - if you decide to put it there).

 

All you would have to do is set the first boot device to CD in the BIOS, and leave the CD in the drive. Then all that anyone has to do to boot the computer up with Puppy, is to press the start button just as they would with Windows. Once the computer has booted up, which doesn't take long because Puppy is tiny, opening an internet browser for example is simply a matter of clicking on the desktop icon, again, just as with Windows. I use Firefox with Lucid Puppy 5.2.8.6.

 

Even though it's a ''live'' operating system, all of your settings, bookmarks etc, and any software you decide to install, is all saved in the savefile, and so loaded whenever you boot up. Puppy also automatically saves everything when you shut the computer down, like any other operating system does (although it can be set not to).

 

I have never used Puppy for email, except when connecting to a webmail server using an internet browser, but it does have an email application which I imagine should be no harder to set up than Outlook Express.


Edited by Al1000, 11 June 2014 - 07:27 AM.


#3 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:25 AM

Many Thanks AI



#4 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:28 AM

Do I dload the Linux file I want and create a bootable disk (all this on my Win 7 pc)?

 

Is it then just a case of running this disk on my laptop, will it overwrite like a win 7 re-install does?



#5 jonuk76

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:43 AM

Do I dload the Linux file I want and create a bootable disk (all this on my Win 7 pc)?

 

Is it then just a case of running this disk on my laptop, will it overwrite like a win 7 re-install does?

 

Yes, you download the file for the distro (version of Linux) you want to try. It is normally an .iso file.  You use this to burn a CD or DVD using a program like imgburn.  Note, do not simply copy the .iso file to a CD as that won't work.

 

As an alternative you can use a USB stick instead of a CD/DVD.  It's faster and more reliable, but old computers may have issues booting from USB devices.  UUI (Universal USB Installer) is a Windows program that makes installing the Linux .iso to a USB stick easy.  YUMI is a different program that allows you to put several different versions of Linux on a USB stick.

 

Most Linux distro's are available in a live version which will run off the CD or USB stick directly, which gives you the option to try them before choosing to install.  You may need to adjust BIOS settings to set the first boot device to the optical drive or USB stick as applicable, if it isn't set to do this already.


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#6 Al1000

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 08:08 AM



Do I dload the Linux file I want and create a bootable disk (all this on my Win 7 pc)?

 

Is it then just a case of running this disk on my laptop, will it overwrite like a win 7 re-install does?

 

Puppy doesn't even ''mount'' the hard drive by default when you boot up from CD or USB, and you aren't presented with any option to install it to the hard drive when you boot up. Other than that, the initial boot up (there is no ''installation'' as such, unless you subsequently choose to install it to hard drive) is much like a Windows installation in that you are presented with a bunch of options to choose from, relating to keyboard settings for language, location and all the rest of it. So long as you create a save file (which is another option you are presented with the first time you shut it down), then your settings will be loaded automatically when you next boot up.

 

It also means that if for whatever reason you don't like Puppy, you haven't altered your computer in any way, and all it's cost you is a CD.

 

(For some reason, old 1GB USB sticks don't work with Puppy savefiles, but all larger more modern ones should)

 

There are options for just about everything, including adjusting touchpad settings if you find it's too sensitive like I did. If the desktop doesn't display properly on the initial boot up, the first thing to do is hit the video wizard button which should be in the window that opens automatically on first boot up, and follow the instructions. I had to do this with Lucid Puppy, but not with Precise, which displayed the desktop right first time.

 

My personal preference for iso burners for Windows is this one, as it's small and simple enough to need no actual installation; yet it burns ISO files just as well as any larger burners do.

 

BTW Puppy comes with a perfectly capable ISO burner already installed as standard. ;)


Edited by Al1000, 11 June 2014 - 08:20 AM.


#7 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 02:38 PM

Well I've dloaded Ubuntu and burned the image to disk via imgbrn.

 

My bloody Sony Vaio wont boot from CD though, it wont let me access the boot sequence either, it just seems to go to windows safe mode options etc when I F8 it.



#8 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 02:53 PM

I think the CD drive may be faulty.

 

I'll try a stick.



#9 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:02 PM

I'm hitting brick walls, the UUI doesn't seem to want to work.



#10 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:23 PM

Well I'm left with the option of buying an external dvd drive, the stick isnt recognised as a boot device, if a bootable image is there of course.  I got an error message when making the bootable stick with UUI.

 

I tried ubuntu and puppy.

 

:(



#11 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:35 PM

I've ordered an external drive :)

 

It will not beat me  :)



#12 Al1000

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:06 PM

The boot menu you are looking for is in the BIOS (Basic Input Output operating System) which should look something like this.

On the Sony Vaio in this video it's F2 then F1 to enter the BIOS.



I can see where it says ''boot'' in the menu bar in the video, second item from the right. The keys that you use to navigate the BIOS are explained in the instructions at the bottom of the screen.

It's simply a matter of selecting the boot menu, changing ''first boot device'' to CD, save and exit, and the computer should boot from the CD (as long as there is a bootable CD in the drive).

I have my laptop set up like this permanently, with the ''second boot device'' in the BIOS set to hard drive. So if there is a bootable CD in the drive the computer boots from it, and if there isn't, it boots from the hard drive. :)

Edited by Al1000, 11 June 2014 - 04:11 PM.


#13 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:11 PM

Thx for this.

 

My bios is accessed by the F2 key on start up too, I did a google search with date parameters for 10 to 8 years ago and found the answer quickly.

 

I'm convinced the DVD drive has gone to heaven though. 

 

I ebayed an external one for £9.99 :)

 

I'll see if that helps me on the the road to Linux.



#14 Al1000

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:25 PM

You're welcome. Is the external DVD drive a USB device? I don't know much about booting from USB, but I suspect that if the computer doesn't boot from a USB flash drive, it won't boot from any other USB device either. AFAIK internal optical drives can be replaced in these laptops though. I'm not sure how much there is to it, but I have seen (new) replacement drives for sale on ebay.

#15 Red Kelt

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 04:28 PM

Oh hell, it is usb. 

 

That's a tenner gone!






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