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Thread: Install Linux on an old laptop

  1. #1
    dirtytofu NNTP User

    Default Install Linux on an old laptop

    I am getting interested in installing a distro of Linux on my Dell laptop (1.6 Ghz, 1.25 GB RAM) and I was wondering if some of you guys can give me some of your experiences with it.

    I was looking to install OpenSUSE 11.1 KDE4 (GNOME had some issues with coming out of suspend mode when I tried the live CD) or Ubuntu (maybe Xubuntu for faster DE?).


    So some questions:

    1. How does power consumption compare on these Linux OSes compared to WinXP?

    Right now I run Rightmark tool to undervolt my laptop and get about 4 hours of battery life.

    I saw that undervolting is possible on Linux also. Is it comparable to what Rightmark does for WinXP?

    2. Which of the 3 OS would be the snappiest?

    3. What is your overall experience of OpenSUSE/Ubuntu vs WinXP?

  2. #2
    platinum NNTP User

    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    i can't answer any of your specific questions, but someone will..maybe..

    in the mean time why don't you look at the hardware compatibility list
    and see if there is anything good there for you, here:
    http://en.opensuse.org/HCL/Laptops/Dell

    suspend, power management (fan speed etc) is often problematic with
    Linux _because_ the system maker builds with a specific (non-M$)
    software in mind, and then don't share the secrets of the specifics
    with open source driver writers..

    there are, however, Dell's born with Linux and they all work fine..

    --
    platinum

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtytofu View Post
    I am getting interested in installing a distro of Linux on my Dell laptop (1.6 Ghz, 1.25 GB RAM) and I was wondering if some of you guys can give me some of your experiences with it.
    KDE4 should work on with that. I've played with KDE-4.3 on an athlon-1100 with only 1GB RAM.

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtytofu View Post
    I was looking to install OpenSUSE 11.1 KDE4 (GNOME had some issues with coming out of suspend mode when I tried the live CD)
    IMHO KDE3 will have less issues than KDE4. If coming out of suspend mode is an issue, then if it were me I would go with KDE3. Note there is a KDE-3.5.10 live CD here: Carlos Gonçalves: Unofficial KDE 3.5 Live CD for openSUSE 11.1

    If you are going to install openSUSE KDE4, rather than use the "official" openSUSE KDE-4.1.3 liveCD to install (where KDE-4.1.3 is very buggy), you may wish to instead use the "openSUSE Community" KDE-4.3 live CD to install:
    "KDE Four Live" CD
    .. where KDE-4.3 is significantly superior to 4.1.3.

    For a better look at what liveCDs are available for openSUSE, take a look here: Live CD - openSUSE

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtytofu View Post
    1. How does power consumption compare on these Linux OSes compared to WinXP?
    I've read of criticisms about Linux in general wrt power comsumption when compared to Windoze. IMHO this criticism while possible true for the majority of laptops, is not true for all. Our old family Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo M7400 laptop functions better under Linux (for power consumption) than Windoze. ... Hence IMHO you need someone with experience specific to your laptop.

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtytofu View Post
    2. Which of the 3 OS would be the snappiest?
    Do you mean openSUSE-KDE4, Ubuntu w/Gnome, and Kbuntu w/KDE4 ? IMHO if speed/snappieness is your criteria, then forget Ubuntu. Forget Kbunutu. and FORGET openSUSE. Go for some other light weight distribution such as
    You can get liveCDs for Ubuntu and openSUSE variants with LXDE and Englightenment desktops, which will be slightly faster than KDE or Gnome, but they will still be signficantly slower than the above 4 distros. Since you mentioned snappiness, then if you are serious that snappiness is a criteria, then go for one of the 4 above distros (I like elive).

    IMHO comparing the snappiness of Ubnuntu vs Kbuntu vs openSUSE is a waste of time as the differences are too minor to make it a worth while criteria in comparing distributions.

    Quote Originally Posted by dirtytofu View Post
    What is your overall experience of OpenSUSE/Ubuntu vs WinXP?
    WinXP is IMHO a lightweight OS in comparison to a nominal openSUSE/Ubuntu. WinXP has massive world wide support, and with that comes the fact it is is subject to all sorts of hack attempts. openSUSE/Ubuntu is "heavier", has IMHO more features, but is not as accepted world wide and in comparision is not subject to all sorts of hack attempts. But more important, one is looking at completely different philosophy between the Linux and Windoze. If you are happy with Windoze, and have no Linux experience, then IMHO stick with Windoze and only install Linux on a test PC (or setup a dual boot between Windoze and Linux, which almost all Linux installation programs do by default). And then form your own opinion.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    First I would ask yourself - why?

    Why do you want to install Linux? Sounds like a silly question, but unless you have a very clear reason in mind and have the right inquisitive and stick-with-it attitude (not the typical well windows just works, or windows doesn't do it like that), then there's no point even starting.

    If you have an open mind and really want to try to learn something new, then go ahead and try an liveCD first. You don't have to install anything, Linux can run completely from a CD.

    Linux is not a replacement for the Microsoft Windows OS, Linux does things differently, Linux will give you real headaches and drive you up the wall sometimes.

    I find the best mentality to have is to expect everything not to work under a Linux distro, be prepared to put in the time and effort to try getting it to work, then be happy and smug when you do manage to get it working .

    The first thing is that you will have to learn a lot more about the hardware you are going to try and run Linux on, just saying I have a laptop is akin to walking into a trendy coffee shop and asking for a coffee! You need much more information.

    You need to know about chipsets, video cards, sound cards, screen capabilities etc' etc'.

    Have I put you off yet?
    HP dv6645, Nvidia 8400m-gs, KDE 4.

  5. #5
    platinum NNTP User

    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    > Have I put you off yet?

    was that your goal?

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    Quote Originally Posted by platinum View Post
    > Have I put you off yet?

    was that your goal?

    --
    platinum
    No, just trying to avoid the usual "Linux sux cos it's not like Windows" replies we seem to be having a lot of lately!

    There seem to be a lot of people lately trying Linux just because it's fashionable, then coming on here and screaming at us because they can't get something to work and it's our fault.

    And seeing as the OP seemed to be more worried about tweaking things and speed comparisons to Windows XP than anything else seemed to be a recipe for just that.
    HP dv6645, Nvidia 8400m-gs, KDE 4.

  7. #7
    platinum NNTP User

    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    > "Linux sux cos it's not like
    > Windows" replies we seem to be having a lot of lately!


    i understand..

    --
    platinum

  8. #8
    dirtytofu NNTP User

    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    Have I put you off yet?
    Nope. I actually went ahead and installed Mint 7 XFCE.

    I guess I should have mentioned that I have used Linux before, but it's just been a while.

    openSUSE just took up way too much resources compared to Ubuntu or Mint (600 MB vs 200 MB RAM) so I just decided to install Mint 7.

    I fixed the issue with suspend/hibernate not recovering, so now I'm off to find a good solution for voltage control.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    Hi, I have a dell d600 1.6MHz 2GB ram ati mobility 9000 gfx onboard.
    I've just upgraded from opensuse 10.3 to 11.1 (stayed with KDE 3.5x). The only reason I upgraded was I had installed a TP-link wireless N mini pci card and wanted the new ath9k drivers with minimal effort.
    I find the machine pretty swift and responsive, around 1000 FPS with glxgears, sound is good, wireless works great using Wicd instead of networkmanager (is that fixed yet ?), internet access through my nokia e51 works great. Only thing I haven't sorted yet is getting an NFS share to automount on login when connected with wireless (that just worked on 10.3). Even the volume and mute buttons next to the power button work. Fan control, frequency scaling, battery management, screen brightness all just work out of the box. In short I'm a very satisfied opensuse/dell user.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Install Linux on an old laptop

    On 10/18/2009 07:56 AM, danceswithferrets wrote:
    >
    > Hi, I have a dell d600 1.6MHz 2GB ram ati mobility 9000 gfx onboard.
    > I've just upgraded from opensuse 10.3 to 11.1 (stayed with KDE 3.5x).
    > The only reason I upgraded was I had installed a TP-link wireless N mini
    > pci card and wanted the new ath9k drivers with minimal effort.
    > I find the machine pretty swift and responsive, around 1000 FPS with
    > glxgears, sound is good, wireless works great using Wicd instead of
    > networkmanager (is that fixed yet ?), internet access through my nokia
    > e51 works great. Only thing I haven't sorted yet is getting an NFS share
    > to automount on login when connected with wireless (that just worked on
    > 10.3). Even the volume and mute buttons next to the power button work.
    > Fan control, frequency scaling, battery management, screen brightness
    > all just work out of the box. In short I'm a very satisfied
    > opensuse/dell user.


    Wireless with NetworkManager using KDE 3.5 does work, at least in most
    cases. With the pre-release versions of 11.2, it also works with KDE
    4.3.1.

    The problem with the NFS mounts is that wireless takes longer to
    authenticate and associate than it takes for a wired card to get
    started. I wrote a script that sleeps for 120 seconds, then does a
    '/sbin/mount -a' and call it from boot.local in background mode. That
    length of time is likely overkill, but it works.

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