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Noob to Ubuntu and linux in general here so will need all the help I can get. I've just received very old toshiba portege 3480ct from friend and hdd on it has no os. I have an IDE adapter to usb and was wondering, can I install it as an external and then put hdd back into laptop? What can I do here? I tried but when ubuntu boots on old laptop when re-inserted as internal hdd, screen is all messed up and i can hear system loading forever. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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If the screen is messed up and the computer is taking a long time to load, then the computer might not be able to handle Ubuntu. My desktop, with an AMD Sempron @ 1.7 GHz, 2 GB RAM and an NVIDIA GEFORCE Graphics card couldn't, so this old laptop with a 600 MHz processor and 64 MB RAM (specs here) probably can't. On my Ubuntu laptop, with a CORE 2 DUO and 2 GB RAM, usually about 600-800 MB of RAM is being used at a time, with 30-60 MB being used in the swap. You could try using Lubuntu instead, it's designed to be lightweight. However, I would recommend Puppy Linux. Puppy is an extremely lightweight OS that loads itself into the RAM. It installs on a 1 GB SD card with plenty of room to spare (you can use UNETBOOTIN to put the .iso file onto a usb flash drive or a disk burning program such as Brasero to put it onto a CD). Puppy is so lightweight that it loads itself into the RAM and doesn't even need a hard drive to work! However, if you do want to install onto the hard drive, you can use a frugal install.

That's the long explanation. In short, Ubuntu is too much to handle for this old, old, old computer, so you'll have to use something else.

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ok, i have downloaded puppy linux wary 5.3 which is said to be for older computers with older hardware. my question is, the portege 3480ct is super ancient therefore doesn't allow for boot from usb and or from cd-rom. how would i go about in installing it into my portege hdd from the ide adapter?? i clicked on the frugal install link but got kind of lost, will continue to read about it more though. – jbusta1311 Nov 20 '12 at 6:28
@jbusta1311 Umm... my best guess would be to just put the iso file straight onto the hard drive and see if it boots... if that doesn't work I'm not sure what to tell you. You can use UNETBOOTIN to do it. I have to admit to getting lost with the frugal install instructions as well... I had hoped that if I at least provided the link someone could make some sense of it. – Josh Nov 20 '12 at 6:44
well, everything seemed to be working fine as far as the frugal install but then got: "puppy_wary_5.3.sfs not found. Dropping out to initial-ramdisk console" don't know what it means but looks like frugal install did not work or i did not do it correctly, will look into it but as of now, no luck still. :/ Have been trying to use unetbootin but can't seem to find hdd. will keep giving it a go. – jbusta1311 Nov 20 '12 at 6:54
@jbusta1311 What OS are you using to try and put Puppy onto the hard drive? – Josh Nov 20 '12 at 7:01
josh - I'm using Windows 7 to try to put puppy onto my toshiba laptop's hdd using an ide adapter. When doing the frugal install, upon booting up puppy linux, it says: "Searching for puppy linux files... puppy_linux_wary.sfs not found, returning to limited shell" I followed frugal install step by step by doesn't seem to work. Even transferred all files asked to transferred. I thought puppy linux was easy to install, seems to be super hard if you are very new to linux. Ubuntu was easy to install as it does everything for you but like you said, my primitive laptop can't handle it. – jbusta1311 Nov 20 '12 at 16:49
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Update 11-20-2012

Ok, so I messed around a little more and found a very straightforward way that worked for me. Before the steps, this is assuming you already have all the necessary files download: puppy linux distro of your choice (I chose puppy linux wary 5.3) and Universal USB Installer v. and the neccesary hardware: IDE/Sata USB adapter and USB flashdrive/stick. Also, a few specs about my laptop:

Toshiba Portege 3480ct 192mb of ram Intel Pentium 2 processor 12GB HDD

The Portege 3480ct does have one usb drive and a port for a PCIMCIA CD drive however cannot boot directly from these two therefore, depending on what hdd you have, you will need an adapter to connect it as an external source, my hdd drive for the 3480ct has an IDE connection and so I just bought a very basic IDE USB adapter. So if you have an older laptop like my 3480ct that doesn’t allow for a straight boot from CD or USB, this process should work for you. CAUTION BEFORE ATTEMPTING, MAKE SURE YOU BACK UP ALL DATA ON HDD AND OR AM WILLING TO RISK LOSING ALL DATA ON HDD THAT YOU ARE LOOKING TO INSTALL DISTRO ON AS THINGS CAN GO VERY WRONG

Procedure: If you believe your laptop can boot from USB as a USB-FDD, then skip to step 6 as you won’t have to worry about the HDD step. If it cannot boot from USB-FDD, then start with step 1.

1) Plug in hdd drive to IDE adapter then into computer/laptop you will be using to transfer files to. Format hdd to Fat32 and give it a drive letter. MAKE SURE YOU REMEMBER DRIVE LETTER!!

2) Run Universal USB Installer and select linux distribution from dropbox. (Must select exact distro that you will be putting on hdd)

3) Browse for where you saved .iso of puppy linux and open.

4) Then select usb flash drive letter, AGAIN, MAKE SURE CORRECT DRIVE LETTER Another box will pop up saying “Format X:\Drive (Erases Content) and click on box. Hit create, it’s going to say something about erasing data and stuff just click ok.

5) After done, unplug and place back into laptop as internal.

6) Now plug in usb drive/stick and follow same procedure as you did with the hdd, making sure drive letter on usb drive/stick matches when choosing where to put puppy linux distro in USB Installer. After complete, plug into old laptop USB Drive.

7) Now boot laptop and click on F2 or whatever F button you have to get to Boot Bios and choose boot from interal hdd. (If booting from USB, choose boot from USB-FDD option) 8) Let puppy linux boot and then click on F3 for advanced commands. Next you’re going to want to type in “puppy pmedia=usbflash” (without quotations). I found that this allows puppy linux to directly boot from your flash drive which the laptop Bios doesn’t allow.

9) Wait for puppy linux to boot and then follow setup instructions. Depending on your laptop, you might have different choices, just read instructions carefully.

10) Once puppy linux desktop is up, go Menu>System>GParted Partition manager and HAVE IT SEARCH YOUR INTERNAL HDD. Format and partition to ext2.

11) Then go to Menu>Setup>puppy universal installer and click on Internal (IDE or SATA) hard drive. Follow instructions and let puppy universal installer complete the install on your internal hdd, it might ask you some questions just choose all the default choices.

12) Once complete, a screen will popup and talk about Grub install, if you want to, read it and make note of it. Then go to Menu>System>Grub Legacy bootloader config. Choose simple install, then standard. Next a window will pop up asking you where you want Grub file to go, just type in “/dev/xxx” without quotations (xxx meaning whatever your hdd is named in linux, mine was sda, might be called hda, make sure its correct!)

13) After that is done, reboot and it will ask you if you want to save a warysave file. Just click yes and choose the recommended choices they offer. Then it will create and whatever it needs. Wait for it to finish and reboot and THE MINUTE IT REBOOTS, PULL OUT USB FLASH DRIVE/STICK! This will allow the laptop to boot from the Grub bootloader and it will also say booting from Grub. Let it load and then a screen will pop up possibly giving you a few choices to choose from. Just choose the LINUX option and press Enter.

14) Now it’ll take you back to the beginning of the puppy linux boot loading screen and just let it install. After it’s done, you’ll then be brought back to the inital puppy linux setup screen where you choose your keyboard etc. and go through it again.

15) After you are done, it’ll boot to Puppy Linux desktop and you are pretty much DONE!! Mess around with it if you want to and get a feel oft desktop. After you are done messing around with it, go to Menu>Shutdown>Reboot and let the laptop reboot again. While booting down, it should say something like, “internal hddinstalled, save file already saved" or something of that nature. Don’t worry, it just means that the warysave file has already been saved because it reads that it’s an interl hdd. Again when reached to screen of options, click Linux again and it should load up and take you straight to Puppy Linux Desktop. Always just choose the Linux option as thats the OS, all other options I did not mess with SO CHOOSE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Am looking forward to installing UBUNTU 12.10 on my desktop, can’t wait to mess around with that! Any questions, please ask and I will do my best to help. Again, am very new to Linux and have gone through many trials and errors to get this to install on my 3480ct, which is one of the hardest laptops to install any OS from forums I’ve read. Hopefully this one helped.

Thanks to JOSH for directing me to the Frugal Install which eventually led me to this long and gruesome process of getting it working on my laptop.

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