View Full Version : Is this a good idea? (Knoppix on an old laptop)

03-09-2005, 04:57 AM
Well, it realized that i actually have never done one of those linux-on-an-old-laptop-installs that i so often think about doing on old laptops i get my hands on. So i tried just one more time. My general approach is to do a net install of debian, with a 3Com PCMCIA NIC, and it never works out allright. Neither this time.
I sighed.
Then i figured i'd see just how good knoppix would find the hardware, and ran a liveCD in the machine. Booted allright, took around four weeks from bios to KDE, but hey it worked, and hey i could use the internet.
I sighed again.
So then i started thinking, maybe Knoppix wouldnt be so bad after all. COnsidering it is phenomenal in finding hardware, what if i could do a HD install and just strip away stuff i dont want. My idea with debian was to get a system with just bash, and then maybe install X if i wanted to, later. Since Knoppix booted allright on the machine, maybe i could just rip out X and some other things after a HD install, and wind up with a pretty lean system anyhow?
And just apt-get from there?

Give me your opinions, and i'd also like to know if theres any specific place that gives the ultimate guide to knoppix HD installs

computer facts:
IBM thinkpad 380D,
pentium 1 around 120 MHz, 48 m RAM, 1.5 gb HD

03-09-2005, 06:19 AM
You might want to head over to distrowatch and have alook at the many linux distributions out there, some live cd.

There used to be some good live distros for what you're trying to do, although the net install of debian would be ideal in that it gives you the option of installing x windows or not. I've done it on suns and macs, never easy but once installed you can apt-get what you want

The distros that used to be cool for old machines are flonix (now seems to be commercial) and morphix. Damnsmall linux is another.


03-09-2005, 05:29 PM

Let us know how you make out. I might want to try DSL on an old notebook too!

03-10-2005, 02:11 PM
Most compelling limitation on old laptops is HD size. Knoppix needs 2.4 Gig just to install, if your laptop is old enough to only have a 2 G HD (ie..from the win98 era) you just don't have enough HD space to install Knoppix except as a poormans install. My 600 Mhz Toshiba (originally winME) has 6G & I can fit Knoppix & winME dual boot on it.

03-12-2005, 02:12 AM
Yes, knoppix-installer doesn't allow you to choose what gets installed, so everything gets copied over. But if you really, really like Knoppix you could remaster your own version to install on the laptop.

You would install it on another computer that had room (and a CD burner), keep only what you want for the laptop, and make a new CD. When you boot it on the laptop with cheatcode 2, Knoppix won't even miss the GUI stuff you pulled out.

Another possibility is Progeny, which you can read about here: http://componentizedlinux.org/progeny/documentation/release-notes-rc2 It's the closest thing to a corporate Debian you'll ever find since the company was founded by Ian Murdoch, the Ian of Deb-Ian.

Progeny has its own hardware detection, so it may work better for you than straight Debian.

It configures installation with anaconda, allowing you to pick either a pre-defined or customized setup. I think I used a standard workstation configuration, which came to 1.2 GB. If you take out GUI stuff (X, Gnome, Firefox), you should be able to fit it on the laptop nicely.

Another option may be to graft Knoppix hardware detection onto another Debian installation since Knoppix is Debian - a hodgepodge Debian, but Debian nevertheless. :D

I hope this helps.

-- Ed

03-22-2005, 01:09 AM
thank you for your ideas and insights! i went for damnsmall, for the moment i am only running it as a liveCD but it does what i want it to so.... however i did try a HD install of it on another desktop PC. Holy cow, that sucker was ready and installed in about ten minutes! Did it all on its own.

03-22-2005, 01:35 AM
That's great! :D Thanks for getting back to us.

-- Ed