Subject: Re: [conspire] my old acer laptop
From: Rick Moen
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 12:30:53 -0800

Quoting Dan (

> While cleaning out my closet, I found an old Acer laptop running
> Windows 95.
> It has only a floppy drive.
> Where might I find a "tiny" Linux distribution that would fit on 1, 2,
> 3, or 4 floppies?

Well, you could start here:

You didn't mention how much disk space it has, or how much RAM. Probably, it has at least 8 MB, and I would hope at least 16 MB. (Less than that is pretty painful with Win9x.)

If you're determined to get Linux going on a machine as small as 2 MB of RAM and a 40 MB hard drive, see this page:

Given enough hard disk space (e.g., 300 MB or so), you can put a fairly liveable Slackware installation on such a laptop, working solely from floppy disks. Unless they've... um..., slacked off, they still make the whole thing available on floppy images. For that matter, you can get the Debian Base System via something like 13 floppies.

Here's Jens Scheidtmann's HOWTO on installing Debian with only 4MB of RAM.

And there are some possibilities you might not have thought of, yet: PLIP is a method of getting IP (and thus, NFS, http, ftp, etc.) running over parallel-port "laplink" cables.

With the aid of some other existing Linux machine, you can boot a Linux installation floppy, get PLIP going, and then install just about any Linux distribution from the other machine (over the PLIP channel).

And then, things are even easier if the Acer just happens to also have a PCMCIA slot, even if you don't (yet) have an ethernet card for it, because you can certainly borrow one for the duration of the installation effort.

> It does not need to run X, just vi.

If the laptop has at least 32 MB, then I'd say getting X11 going is very worthwhile. Less than that, maybe, but you won't get tremendous mileage out of it. Less than 16 MB, don't bother.

By the way, you might be able to justify adding RAM to such a machine, even at this late date. Call up SA Technology, , and ask them how much.

Cheers,                                    "My file system's got no nodes!"
Rick Moen                                  "How does it shell?