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Installing Mandrake 9.1 on an old(er) machine.


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I want to help some people out of their computer trouble by installing Mandrake 9.1. They got Windows 98 installed on it, but it keeps crashing, responding very slow - in other words, it's not stable at all. So I'm going to do them a favour by installing something (dual boot-wise) which *is* stable.


I do not have the complete specs, however, most of it is pretty standard hardware, save for the monitor (va...something... variant?? LCD screen) and the scanner (read on the net that is is partially supported). Anyway, the scanner, I can try later.


The system: box with 10GB of HD and 128MB Ram; Intel Pentium Processor (II or III, I think it is 266Mhz). I made an ext2 partition of 3GB on the disk, that is all I can practically spare. There's no 3D card. The screen is a flatscreen LCD monitor with a maximum resolution of 1024*768. The fonts look ugly, almost unreadable in the Mandrake Installer.


I am thinking of installing only Gnome and IceWM as window managers, dropping KDE alltogether. I do not know what this will do for the availability of applications though.


I have the option of either installing Mandrake 9.1 (downloaded CD's), or installing Mandrake 9.0 (PowerPack). Maybe 9.0 would be lighter on the system??



I need to make it look/feel as much like windows as I can (yeah yeah, I don't like it eiter, just trying to be realistic here), or otherwise I think it will be hard to bridge the gap, because the people are not really technical. The WManagers also have to be light.


--- Needed ---



- Openoffice (not too heavy? Maybe Kword or Abiword would be better?), File Manager (thinking of nautilus or Gnome-commander), dropping Mozilla and instead installing a lighter one (Opera?).


- Calculator


- (very) simple but handy calendar. Korganizer: way too complicated/complete.


- Notepad-alike: I suppose Gedit would do fine.




* Internet and Mail


- Modem is the Alcatel Speedtouch Modem (*not* the Alcatel USB, I believe) with a dial-up internet connection.


- Browser: Opera?


- Mail client: Evolution? Kmail? Sylpheed?


- Messaging: GAIM, Licq


* Multimedia:


- Xmms

- Light but versatile video player


* Games:


- Card games

- Board games

- Billiards (foobillard ?)




Any essential apps I forgot? Machine does not have a CD-writer. Only hardware are keyboard and mouse (both work), CD-ROM, flatscreen LCD monitor and scanner.



The goal is to set up a stable machine, give the user an auto-login, never root access (although he should be able to shut off without root access), that looks as good (or nearly) as windows 98, but has better performance and no crashes, while providing all the applications currently used under windoze.



I'll be starting installation tomorrow evening, so I'd be happy to hear your tips 'fore I screw up ;) .




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Go with 9.1 its juat a better distro. Even though it too has a few bugs just like every other distro. It looks great also. The bloat difference between 9.0 and 9.1 is nothing really. Go ahead and install KDE. If its never used it can't slow down the system and the apps that come with it are nice.

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Ok, I'll go with 9.1


What I am also worried about, is the font rendering on the LCD screen. It looks really bad during install. Of course, you can probably configure it later, but what is the best way to do it then? (Mandrake Control Center, Editing a config file, some arcane console command, .... ?)



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OK, I'll try a few suggestions, stuff I put on my daughter's...



Abiword. Gnumeric if they need a spreadsheet.

Xcalc calculator.

XFE file manager. VERY fast, very light, very windows-like.

Klipper for a notepad.



Opera 7.11. Small, light and very fast, looks great.

Sylpheed for email.

Messenger...never used one.



XMMS. Hard to go wrong.

Video - Got me. Don't use it on a computer. But I will soon...



Got me. No time or inclination. I put some on for her, but I don't remember what.


My daughter is perfectly happy with these on an old AMD 300 system using KDE. Took her about 5 minutes to make the switch from Win98. She just started using it. KDE loads kinda slow, but then so did Wondoze, and having KDE will make the switch easier for them than using ICEwm. Been probably 9-10 months since I setup her system and I haven't done a thing to it since except upgrade Opera from v6 to 7. It just runs.

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Ok, so the install went quite smoothly, except for the setup of the screen (it's a vibrant LCD monitor). I choose for Xfree4 and the 'vga' module (did not really know what to choose, but this seemed an acceptable choise at the time). Still don't know if it works though, cause I can't boot Linux, which leads me to the next problem:


- Windows98 boots instead of the Lilo boot loader! That's not what I wanted...


- Furthermore, the 'D-drive' in windows now contains all kinds of crap (kind of like folders and file names that look like Chinese or... something). I'm worried something got wrong when I used partitionMagic to resize it from 6 GB to 3 GB and create a 3GB ext2-partition for Linux


- I installed using an installation boot floppy, plus CD-roms. Wat I figured would be an easy install is turning into a nightmare...


Need help... :(



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1st, what is your D: drive? A 2nd FAT32 partition or a physically separate 2nd HD?


2nd, I take it that Win98 still works OK, so you can probably just delete the garbage on D: and move on, but what else was (is) on D:?


Sounds like the easiest thing to do at this point might be to just reinstall Linux, which should straighten out your bootloader problem at the same time. But this time don't fool with Partition Magic. It's a Windoze tool with very poor Linux support. Use Mandrake's DiskDrake partitioning tool instead. During the install, DiskDrake should come up and ask what to do with your partitions. The DiskDrake GUI makes it very easy. Befor you start, defrag your FAT32 partitions(s) to avoid any data loss. Be careful not to format your FAT32 partition(s), since you don't wanna trash your Win98 install. Set up at least 3 Linux partitions, / (root) /swap and /home. I like to add /usr and /var partitions also, but it's not necessary. Use ext3 instead of ext2 for reliabilty.


If you feel you must have a Windoze partitioning utility, Google and download Acronis Partiton Expert. It seems generally regarded by IT guys to be better than Partion Magic anyway. After using it a few times I agree, it kicks Partition Magic. Has a more intuitive GUI and more useful features. But best of all Partition Expert has far better support for Linux, including all the alternative Linux file systems like ReiserFS, etc. A free download edition is available that has all the basic functionality enabled you need for simple partitoning. The paid version is even cheaper than Partition Magic.

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My D: drive is in fact a second FAT32 partition. (1st partition Fat32 w. system install: 1,5GB (c:), primary ; 2nd Fat32 partition, 6GB, primary ) I wanted to take 3 GB off of the 6GB partition to make room for a Linux ext2-partition and did so by Pmagic.


Yes, windows still works, but the directory and file names are garbled and when I check the drive in explorer, it says the partition is 6GB big, with 650MB free space left. In fact, it's not 6GB big (should be 3GB), cause I used part of it for my Linux partition. Maybe it's because win98 does not recognize the ext2-partition?


Strangely enough, when you give another name to the drive in the explorer, all folders disappear. Adding other folders and files is also no problem from hereon.


Could this be I suffered some data loss because of fragmentation (for I believe that drive was quite severely fragmented)?


I will try to reinstall Linux and let the bootloader take care of it.


One more thing: first, I set the Linux partition as a logical partition. Now it seems a bootable partition should be primary. Perhaps also a possible explanation?



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OK, from what you're saying seems your C drive is fine, only the D partition is affected. That's the good part.


Bad part is that whatever is (was) on the D drive is probably trashed. If you're lucky a file-fix utility may be able to restore part of it. Scandisk very likely isn't powerful enough but something better may work. You've got nothing to lose by trying. You're right that it may have been due to fragmentation. Basically, when you split the 6G, some of the files, or parts of files, were on the 3G you used for ext2, so now you're missing segments of files. Result - garbage.


Something's definetly not right, 'cause Windoze should not be able to read your Linux partitions at all. In other words, if you had C and D FAT32 partitions and split the 6G D in half, Windoze shouldn't even know the 3G ext2 partition is there and still see only C and D drives, with D now read D as 3G. So something went very wrong. I'm surprised you could get Mandrake installed. Like I said, best to just stay away from Partition Magic for this and use DiskDrake or Acronis Partition Expert.


Hopefully, DiskDrake won't be confused now by the mess Partition Magic made of things and you'll still be able to use it to straighten this out. If it is confused, you might have to try using Partition Magic to reformat the whole 6G section back to a single FAT32 partition, then rerun DiskDrake to re-partition everything again. Of course, then everything on D is lost.


So, 1st try to recover the data on D. If you can save any, then defrag it to pack it all to the front of the D drive. Then reinstall Linux, making sure you don't use more of D for your Linux partitions than you have free space on D. If the data on D is cooked, then oh well, but you can still use DiskDrake to split the 6G space into FAT32 and ext3 (or Reiser, or whatever) partitions, install Linux and chalk it up as a learning experience.. You might want to consider something more like a 2G/4G split to give Mandrake a little more to work with. For this machine I'd try something like, oh, 300MB for /, 150MB for /swap and the rest for /home.


As far as primary vs logical partitons, yes you need a primary bootable partition. For your purposes, make / and /home primary. /swap is, of course, it's own special file type so doesn't figure into this. Also, in this case it won't matter, but keep in mind that you can have a maximum of 4 pimary partitions on a system.


Hope all this helps...

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  • 1 month later...

Seems I'll be able to install Linux anyway on this machine.


My grandparents want to go into digital video, bought a digital video camera... and *a whole new pc!!!*. Guess that 10GB HD wasn't quite enough for their plans ;)


Downside is... this new machine will have Windoze....

if they went video editing, I'd have recommended a nice Apple computer... my grandparents never tell me anything :P




- I can now 'free' an old PC from the horrors of MS, do a full disk format and install Linux on it as a single OS. Gonna see if my sis' likes it, if I let her play around with it and she does, she can take it to school (students home). This machine (PIII, I believe / 333Mhz, 128 RAM) sure beats an upgraded 486DX2 / 200Mhz, 32(!) RAM.


- Camera is a Panasonic VT-something camera, for which type of camera I think I've seen quite a lot of drivers on the Gphoto website. So I've got good hopes of getting it to work on my home system.




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