Giving Xubuntu a Try


I’ve been wanting to try out Linux for a while now, but I’ve never had a compelling reason to dig in. Turns out that my kids are the compelling reason. We just don’t have enough computers that can connect to the Internet, do homework, Chat on MSN, play games, etc. I’ve decided to try to resurrect old laptops with Xubuntu for kid use.


So far they think Xubuntu is very cool. It looks good and has all the stuff they want: Firefox, Chat, image editing, wordprocessor, and office. It took “zero time” for them to figure out the basics. Firefox just works. Chat (via Gaim) was configured in seconds. Word processors were tested. They set up their own user accounts. They like this account feature that we use on our Macs. Their mission this week is to find Linux games. I’m thinking they’ll have good success.

Installation Notes

So far I’ve installed Xubuntu on an ancient Toshiba Portege 3110CT. I chose Xubuntu because it has very minimal system requirements and can run pretty well on old machines.

Xubuntu — Minimum system requirements

To run the Desktop CD (LiveCD + Install CD), you need 128 MB RAM to run or 192 MB RAM to install. The Alternate Install CD only required you to have 64 MB RAM.

To install Xubuntu, you need 1.5 GB of free space on your hard disk.

Once installed, Xubuntu can run with 64 MB RAM, but it is strongly recommended to use at least 128 MB RAM.

Installation was fairly painless. I downloaded an install CD image of the “alternate install for old systems” (did this via Torrent … was very fast … came down at my max download rate of ~10 Mbit/sec+), burned it to CD (via Disk Utility… I’m a Mac guy at home), and then ran the install. It took a couple hours. The only tricky thing was that I had to hold down “Shift-C” to get the 3110CT to boot from an external CD Drive. I found the notes on these sites helpful


3 Replies to “Giving Xubuntu a Try”

  1. I’ve tried this on exactly the same machine, and failed. the CD for my Portege 3110ct connects through the PCMCIA slot, and I have found no way to to get the 3110 to boot from it. Exactly what CD and PCMCIA card do you have? and what Bios and Bios revision do you have.? Those are the only things I can think of that would make a difference. Any thoughts would help, as I’ve wasted too much time on this already. Thanks.
    Oh — is Xbuntu able to deal with the Toshiba video? I tried loading PuppyLinux, and it failed to load because its video drivers weren’t able to handle the 800×600 resolution.
    Have you tried a wifi card in the Portege, under XBuntu.

  2. * external CD drive is a Port – NW24XCD
    * I’ll have time to give it a look tomorrow wrt/ bios settings. it is pre-cy2000.
    * I’ve not tried wifi

    * I’ve found the setup to work just fine for a few months now
    – ‘ve used Thunderbird e-mail, the spreadsheet, terminal, ( vi, python, ruby ), and some other stuff.
    * it is not the fastest, but fine for ‘simple’ apps

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