Linux newbie + old laptop + VM + performance = ?

By superty12 ยท 31 replies
Sep 1, 2011
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  1. I am planning to install Linux on an old Dell. It needs to run in a VM. I'd like it to be as fast as possible. The specs are in my profile. I'm also a newbie. Please finish the equasion above for me. I cannot.
  2. It's not going to be great... especially in a VM,,, whatever you do don't go for 'buntu...

    Why a virtual machine though? Do you have any free space on the disk? If so defrag, work out the free space, partition (leave a "decent buffer zone") and install properly? You could install it in a VM on any machine...

    As to what distro you should use - debian would be good, but it's not ideal for beginners - especially as you'll need to do a minimal install. You might want to try a more minimal "user friendly" distro - the others here may have more idea about those than I would.

    Dell Inspiron B130
    Intel Pentium M
    512 DDR RAM
    Intel GMA900
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Running a VM on a old laptop is likely to be frustrating experience.

    I would just run Linux natively, which will allow it to use the full resources at the laptops disposal. Something like Linux Mint is a good starting point. Or you could give openSUSE a go.

    I agree that Debian would be the best solution, but its really not for those new to Linux. I think the same would be true of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) as well.

    Your best bet would be to start out with Linux Mint, and then move over to LMDE once you have a bit more experience. Then once your ready you can move over to Debian.
  4. Personally I wouldn't recommend Linux Mint as they couldn't give a damn about distributing non-free software and push it down the user's throat from the off... but it may serve as a starting point.

    I'm also uncertain as to how it will perform on that hardware - it's not exactly the lightest distro...
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    They're one step better than 'buntu, but to be honest I find myself stuck when recommending a decent starter distro these days.

    I favour Debian and openSUSE, but neither of those have beginners in mind, and ultimately won't provide a beginner with the most enjoyable experience when first learning Linux.

    I do plan on having a good look at multiple distro's, including the writing of installation guides soon, so maybe I'll be impressed with something and be happy enough to recommend something new.

    Though that said, its up to the individual as to what distro they use, and we all have different tastes and needs, so its hard to really recommend any distro in particular, as what we deem to be good may not be received as the same by others.

    EDIT: You have a good point, 512MB is a bit low for Gnome's DE. Maybe Linux Mint XFCE would be a more suitable choice.
  6. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

    Thank you, I'll be installing Linux on the laptop alongside XP. Can you change the names of bootloader entries in GRUB?
  7. Yes in /boot/grub/grub.cfg (assuming grub2) but you should only mess with it if you know what you're doing and there's no real point in renaming the kernel image menu lines...

    What exactly did you want to change...?
  8. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

    Just to add a warning to the others who use the laptop.
  9. Well if anyone else uses the laptop - presumably they will use windows, therefore you can change the default boot entry so that windows is booted automatically after 3 seconds, or you can hide the menu altogether...
  10. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

    I'll just tell them. I'll post back when I'm on the LiveCD.
  11. It's easy to change the OS which boots by default - we can sort that out later. For now you should concentrate on getting it installed without nuking your windows partition - let us know how you get on.

    Which distro are you installing by the way?
  12. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

    Arr. Bad CD. I'll look into it later. And it's Linux Mint LXDE.
  13. 1) check the md5sum of the iso before burning coasters - for windows there is a program called something like "winmd5sum" which can do this...

    2) burn at a slower speed (I always burn at about 2400 KBps ("16x")) - much more important than you might think.
  14. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

    An Ubuntu CD didn't work either.
  15. "didn't work" doesn't really give us much to go on...

    So you burned a disc and it wouldn't boot at all? Any errors?

    Did you burn at the slow speed I advised? Did you check the md5sum of the image before burning?
  16. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,978   +15

    Ya when discs should work and they dont the burning speed is too high. I've burned at 8x to ensure a proper burn. Maybe you need a boot img file?
  17. Any luck with this superty12?
  18. Zen

    Zen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 861   +50

    I might be injecting stupid information here, but what's this talk about needing a CD for installation? We are talking about installing the O.S. right? If we are, "here's where the stupid might come to play", I didn't require any sort of CD to install Ubuntu 10.10 on any of my 4 systems. I used a USB flash drive for all my installation needs. Maybe superty12's laptop is old, maybe it doesn't have USB ports, maybe that's why all this talk about needing CD's is happening.

    Won't a USB flash drive work for superty12, rather than worrying about burning and using a CD?

    I'll shut up now and proceed to take my stupid cap off! :)
  19. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Older computers are usually unable to boot from USB devices Zen - in these cases CD media is more suitable and will actually work.
  20. I would hazard a guess that the laptop in question supports booting from USB. Regardless, booting from CDROM should not be that much trouble on hardware less than 10 years old...

    Until superty12 comes back with some error information however this is all pretty pointless.

    (It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a livecd failed to boot on certain hardware)
  21. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

    I'll look around for an md5 sum program. LXDE is unrelative. The CD is gone. Ubuntu had a missing file. Wubu had a permissions error. I tried with the Admin account. The laptop turned off during that. I have not tried to boot it since. When I am sure everything is right, I will put it on a USB. Is there a guide out there for that?
  22. Zen

    Zen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 861   +50

    I will pop my head back in here and give you what little I can.

    As far as the USB Flash Drive installation option, the following link should answer all your questions.

    As far as how the installation is to go, inside this well made tutorial, just 86 all information regarding a CD, just pick things up where the O.S. is starting to install. You can find that tutorial here...

    Well that's about all I got, for more help in this it probably will require someone more advanced than I am!

    Good luck :)
  23. winmd5sum



    Which file was missing? Seems like a bad burn/corrupt download.

    Don't worry about that, it's no way to install an OS.

    Tried what with the "Admin" account?
  24. superty12

    superty12 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 413

  25. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    I recommend against trying to install it via Windows using Wubu.

    Have you actually tried installing it by booting it with the CD.

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