Compatibility with laptop drivers
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2009-05-08 13:53 GMT   |   #1
I'm new to Linux and want to learn more. I've got an old laptop that's got
an Intel 500MHz procesor with 128mb RAM running Windows 98. Yes, I've had
it a long time (10yrs or so) and I think it might be a prime candidate for
installing linux (distribution up for debate). My concern is the various
drivers in the laptop including the touchpad and audio. Will this be an
issue? It's a Compaq Presario. Will linux be able to handle the touchpad
and audio portions of the laptop or will this instantly become a doorstop
when I wipe out windows? How should I proceed?
2009-05-08 15:20 GMT   |   #2
I've just put SuSE 10.3 on a Presario 900 Laptop, 256Mb ram. It works
just fine. No wireless card so I can't comment other than to say that
Compaq usually use Broadcom cards which are very much unsupported.
2009-05-08 15:20 GMT   |   #3
Thanks. So do yo feel I'd have an issue with the laptop touchpad and audio
functions? Does a typical linux distro come with standard compatible
hardware drivers?
2009-05-08 16:24 GMT   |   #4
Also, I need a distro which will run on 128mb of memory. Any suggestions as
to which flavor of linux might be best suited? Windows 98 runs fine on it
currently so while the laptop admittedly has limited resources I'd expect
there to be multiple choices of linux. That said I did read that Ubuntu
requires 256mb.
2009-05-08 17:20 GMT   |   #5
You will likely be fine. Most newer distros have a live-CD option so
you can just boot with the CD and see if everything works and then install
it from within the live CD.

I have a P3 800 Mhz, 128 Mb ram Compaq Armada.
I ran arch linux and dwm on it for a while, and it worked ok.
I could even browse the web with opera[1], though trying flash
wasn't a great idea.

Right now it's got recent installs of slackware 12.2 and openbsd 4.5, for no
good reason really.

So just pick a distro, run some lightweight window manager and you should be

[1] Yes, I'm Norwegian.
2009-05-08 21:20 GMT   |   #6
I have that exact laptop. I upgraded the RAM. I suggest looking at or if you have a good local mom and pop computer store,
you should be able to get more RAM affordable. I am using Ubuntu with no
problems. If you don't want to use nor do you want to upgrade the RAM.
Look at DSL. (Damn Small Linux.) I have had it work on a laptop running
a 486 processor and less RAM that that. Good luck.

2009-05-08 22:23 GMT   |   #7
Thanks Lee. Yea, I'm going to look at increasing the RAM from the pitiful 128mb
that it is to something more respectable. Being basically cheap, I hate to
put money into the old laptop but if I can make it a usable linux box then
its worth it.
2009-05-09 05:20 GMT   |   #8
You can try a Live CD ust be aware that some Live CD's require 256Mb as a minimum.

As far as touchpads go I've never had a problem with them not working in  Linux. I've had problems with them under Wins of course...
2009-05-09 05:20 GMT   |   #9
Pity you don't live in the UK ! I have several sticks of 128Mb salvaged
from upgrades to various machines. I have also noticed different pin
configurations. Some machines have the notch in a slightly different
2009-05-09 05:20 GMT   |   #10
Depending on whhc driver is used, the touchpad may loose functionality.
With the old synaptic driver I had tapping working nicely, while upgrading
Xorg to 7.4 my distro has switched to the new xf86-input-synaptic driver and
no matter if I have enabled tapping in the configuration file (both hal and
xorg), the tapping is gone.

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