Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

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Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:35 am

I was given a very old laptop (Toshiba Satellite 2510CDS) that had ME on it. I immediately wiped that off the HDD and decided I wanted to put Ubuntu 7.04 (the only one I had on disc) on it. When the boot screen comes up I choose install and the "Installing Linux Kernel" window comes up and then nothing happens. The screen goes blank and I have to reset the laptop to do anything. The HDD is formatted in NTFS, but I don't think that is the problem.

The laptop is only 266MHz with only 32mb of RAM. I think that's where I think the problem is.

If this is going to be a problem with Ubuntu then I think I'll just put 2K on it. It's not going to be used for much other than surfing and some word processing.
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:52 am

I tried the same thing that you are trying to accomplish with one of my own machines. The one that I was trying install ubuntu on was an old Compaq w/ a Pentium 266mhz and 96mb ram. The only way to get "ubuntu" on it is to use the xubuntu distro, or use the ubuntu server disc with installs in text mode or use "alternative installer disc" (which I don't know if it exists anymore). The graphical installer needs a minimum of (IICR) 196mb of ram to run according to the minimum install req. There also might be a way to enter in some boot code mode that will allow you to install in text mode or reduced graphical mode that I'm not aware of. Good luck.
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:39 pm

Although Linux started out being fairly lightweight, modern distros running GNOME or KDE have become bloated. The Xubuntu flavor of Ubuntu is less resource intensive, but still needs more than 32MB (depending on what you believe, the minimum RAM for Xubuntu is anywhere from 64MB to 192MB).

IMO your best bets are either to see if you can increase the RAM to at least 192MB, or (as you've already mentioned) install Win2K on it. Note that even with Win2K it's gonna be pretty darned sluggish if you're planning on installing a modern browser and/or office suite.
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:42 pm

32MB is going to be tough to install anything but a barebones OS, no matter if it's Linux or W2K. Wojosockie was right about Ubuntu server, I think that'll allow you to do an install.

A few years ago, I installed Debian Etch using the "netinst" installation on a Pentium 133 with 32MB. I had to deselect most things and just choose the barebones basics for a server... no GUI at all. It ran 24/7 for months without a problem until the 11 year old hard drive finally died.
EDIT: Sorry, just checked the machine and I had forgotten that I upgraded the RAM to 128MB with some cheapo RAM I found on eBay. You might want to consider doing the same.
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:22 pm

You can't even run Damn Small Linux on 32MB of RAM; it requires 64.

You could try a basic installation of Debian or Slackware and a very lightweight window manager like lxde, twm, jwm, or wm2. As far as browsers go, I don't know if any graphical ones would work, but perhaps links2 or dillo would.

I'm not sure that Ubuntu Server would work. The last machine I installed it on, the kernel required a CPU with (I just blanked on its name--that thing that lets 32-bit processors see more than 4GB of RAM); not to install, but to boot from the hard drive once it was installed. I'd be terribly surprised if an old Pentium supported that.
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:07 pm

bthylafh wrote:I'm not sure that Ubuntu Server would work. The last machine I installed it on, the kernel required a CPU with (I just blanked on its name--that thing that lets 32-bit processors see more than 4GB of RAM); not to install, but to boot from the hard drive once it was installed. I'd be terribly surprised if an old Pentium supported that.

If it is a Pentium II it actually might. The Pentium II was based on the Pentium Pro, and I believe the Pentium Pro is when Intel introduced PAE.

And yeah, I noticed the PAE issue myself the other day, when I was messing around with Ubuntu Server in a VirtualBox VM. The installed OS wouldn't boot until I enabled PAE support for the VM...
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:03 pm

This article: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/pl ... ae_os.mspx

implies but doesn't outright say that the PII doesn't support PAE.

edit: Wackypedia claims that the PII does support it, and that excepting 400 MHz FSB Pentium-Ms, all PPro-and-newer Intel CPUs do. The same article claims that the Athlon supports it, but that box I put Ubuntu Server on was a Socket-A Athlon of some type, and it apparently didn't.

YMMV.
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Re: Ubuntu won't load on old laptop

Postposted on Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:48 am

bthylafh wrote:The same article claims that the Athlon supports it, but that box I put Ubuntu Server on was a Socket-A Athlon of some type, and it apparently didn't.

I suppose there may be some other CPU feature that it is also looking for, in addition to PAE. Even my old Slot A Athlon supports PAE (according to 'cat /proc/cpuinfo' in Linux).
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