It is not unusual, for new users wanting to try Linux for the first time to want to use an old discarded computer. This is quite a reasonable attitude, as these users have probably never seen a Linux operating system, let alone used one.
Fear plays a part in this, as computers remain a mystery to many thousands of people. They are content with switching them on and using them. What goes on "under the bonnet", is of no relevance.
They are used to Windows and that's it!
Now, I'm not suggesting in the least, there's anything wrong with that, but it does detract from the opportunity to see what is available elsewhere.
The first time these users are likely to want to try Linux, is when their Windows machine finally succumbs to being bogged down with so much rubbish and bloat, that it becomes unusable. This is the time most commonly, they discover they have no Windows disk (to reinstall), as the manufacturers have saved 5p by not giving them a CD!
"Drum roll"! Enter Linux!
So now our intrepid user has made the decision to try Linux and the first question asked is - which one?
There is no easy answer to that one. It depends solely on what you as an individual prefer. But consider this;
Any modern distribution (known as a distro), will not run on antiquated equipment.
For example, the latest Ubuntu distro requires a minimum of:
- 1 GHz x86 processor
- 1GB of system memory (RAM)
- 15GB of hard-drive space (although this can be split onto 2 drives, a 5Gb / and a 10Gb /home fairly easily)
- Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024 by 768
- Either a CD/DVD Drive or a USB port (or both)
So straight away, our new user is stuffed as his/her old machine has nowhere near that specification.
Of course, the Linux world has taken care of that. Distros are available that will run on everything from a floppy disk, to a full blown power-user machine, or even meshed computers that in combination, can rival the super-computers that governments of the world operate.
One particular distro that I find excellent for low power machines and new users, is Puppy Linux.
It can be downloaded here:
Having downloaded Puppy, you will find an .iso file, which is the next stumbling block for many.
Have a look here:
Distro Burning Howto
That will lead you through the process and hopefully put to bed some misapprehensions and down right misconceptions regarding this simple procedure.
Now, this is where it can and sometimes does, go wrong. And it is the primary reason for this article.
So you've followed me so far, done all the right things and you go into your BIOS and set your first boot device to CD ROM, (you did do that didn't you?) and the computer fails to boot from the CD! *#!! DAMN!!!
Yes, we've all been there done that and got the T-shirt! So what are you to do?
This problem is far more common on older computers than is first recognised, with the early BIOS's being flaky to say the least and early CD ROM drives, being finicky about whether to boot from a CD or not.
Now I've found a possible solution and for the purposes of this article, am going to assume you're coming from a Windows background and using a Windows computer to complete this task.
1. Go to:
RawWriteWin and download and install rawwritewin.exe
This will be used to create a floppy disk; Yes, a floppy!
Most older machines have a floppy drive.
2. Go to:
and download "The All In One Floppy", it's about a third of the way down the page and can be recognised as; Download the floppy image (1440 KB).
You will end up with an image file named allinone.img This file cannot be simply copied on to a floppy. It is an image file and hence the reason for downloading rawwritewin.
3. Allinone will require a pristine floppy - in other words, one with no bad sectors. That in itself can be a challenge, but I'm sure if you've got this far, one that is not about to worry you too much. The reason is, Allinone just fits on a floppy, so any bad sectors will render the disk useless. Pop your floppy in the drive. Now use rawwritewin to write the floppy. This is done by simply telling rawwritewin where to find the image file.
4. Boot your computer and enter the BIOS. Set your first boot device to floppy. Save and quit.
Note, when I tested this solution, I set the second boot device to CD ROM in the BIOS, but in retrospect, I don't think this was necessary. You can do that if you want to; it's just belt and braces!
5. Now with your floppy in its drive and your distro CD in its drive restart the computer and keep everything crossed.
If it all works well, the floppy will boot into a DOS like window. You will need to use the arrow keys to navigate to your CD drive, select it and press "Enter". This should now initiate the CD disk and you will be able to boot into your Linux distro of choice.
In the case of Puppy Linux, you will find an "Install icon" on the Desktop. Select it in the normal way and it will take you to a number of options. This is because, that particular distro has a number of possible installation options. You can install to a pen drive for example. But if you want to just install to the hard drive, select that option, take the default values and all should be well.