[conspire] (forw) Re: Linux installation advice

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Mar 10 14:42:31 PST 2004

----- Forwarded message from rick -----

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 14:41:58 -0800
To: Mike Lude <mlude at pacbell.net>
Subject: Re: Linux installation advice

Quoting Mike Lude (mlude at pacbell.net):

> Howdy.
> I've got a fair amount of computer experience and want to get into 
> Linux (I'm currently running WinXP). I have an elderly laptop that I 
> can use as a test platform... it was purchased in 1997 or so (I'm not 
> sure of the specs).

Believe it or not, having the machine be at least a year old is actually
a blessing for Linux, because it makes it very likely that good
open-source drivers have already been written for every function on the
machine.  (Manufacturers give coders early access to new hardware, but
only if they're willing to sign NDAs = nondisclosure agreements, which
isn't compatible with the resulting drivers being open source.)

The main concern is RAM:  If the laptop has less than 64 MB, you should
consider buying a RAM upgrade.  One place that does well for me is SA
Technology, http://www.satech.com/ .  You can get by with a minimal
graphical desktop on Linux with as little as 32 MB, but you won't be
happy.  128 MB is fairly comfortable, and 256 MB is ideal.  

Therefore, you might look into the cost of a RAM upgrade.  If it's only
$50, then the benefits might merit the expense, even for a 1997 laptop.

> I installed RedHat 6.1, but gave up after I wasn't able to get KDE to 
> talk to the LCD screen properly. So: any advice on either a different 
> distro, or figuring out what the magic parameters are?

I can help you configure X11 (the graphics) on Red Hat 6.1, if you like,
because I happen to have been really good at that knack.  However, it's
a completely obsolete skill, because Red Hat 6.1 is now so obsolete that
you really don't want to go anywhere near it.

I keep in supply pretty much all the popular distributions (except those
that must be bought shrinkwrapped, like Xandros), and can help you with
any Linux or BSD distribution whatsoever.

> If you guys are having an installfest any time soon, I'd be honored 
> to attend...

Tell you what:  I'm actually just about to cancel the upcoming CABAL
meeting that's been scheduled for this Saturday, on account of a time
conflict.  However, there's an SVLUG installfest in San Jose the
following Saturday.  That would be, hmm....

:r! cal

     March 2004
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
    1  2  3  4  5  6
 7  8  9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
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28 29 30 31

...Saturday, March 20, from 11 AM to 4 PM, at Accent Technology, just
off Brokaw Road between US-101 and I-880.  Details at
http://www.svlug.org/ .  I personally may or may not be there, but lots
of other people will be.

After that, the next CABAL meeting will be Saturday, March 27, 4 PM to
midnight, at my house in Menlo Park.  There are two CABAL meetings every
month, 2nd and 4th Saturdays.  People are always welcome to bring
machines for installation or other Linux work.

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