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question answer

As I promised to include your (the readers’) suggestions, comments and questions into my articles, so here is the first of such requests.
Ram has a question for me here which I quote:

Hi Varun,

I have been reading articles here as well as at makeuseofit …please keep writing interesting and useful tips for non-technical guys like me…

I have a 5 years old laptop (Pentium IV, 512 MB RAM, XP Home). Internal DVD drive is not working. I have an external DVD drive. I dont think this laptop can be booted from USB drive. I would like to install linux and get rid of the XP. Could you please suggest me what linux distribution and how do I install it using external dvd drive or using floppy drive.


Here is what I think and suggest:

First of all Ram mentions he is non-technical but let me thank him for the wonderful description and the amount of information he provided. That really helps. Coming to the problem I have a few suggestions for you Ram:

      Since you are going to use Linux for the first time I would suggest to go with Ubuntu almost certainly. Its easy to use for beginners and is pretty robust like any other Linux distro. As you mature and develop a taste you can try other Distros (flavors of Linux).
      I would like to ask if you have installed another operating system before on your laptop? The reason for this is that laptops generally come with a sort of factory reset functionality where you can use an operating system image to reinstall or restore the operating system to the settings it initially had when you bought it. You would like to make a backup of such a rescue partition if your laptop has one.
      Given the scenario of non functional internal drive and having an external drive(I am assuming its USB) and the inability to boot from USB I would recommend to first Google for BIOS update for your laptop model. If a BIOS update is available you must update your BIOS and see if you can then boot from USB. If it helps your problem is already solved else read ahead.
      You can follow two paths:
      One, If you have taken care of all the above or don’t want to do them for some reason this is the one you are looking for. Download the latest Ubuntu desktop CD (Currently Hardy Heron) and then follow these simple steps I mention in an earlier post. You will have Linux up and running in a matter of minutes from your external drive. Note that this won’t remove XP, but give you a dual boot system (which is better I would say).
      The other path: Since you say that you are a non technical guy so I am not explaining about the ways to install using only a floppy(can be confusing for first timers). But if you are interested check here. Please note you will require the alternate cd(check the checkbox to download the alternate CD) if you follow this path.

    Do let me and the readers know if you want to know something else, remember “Those who are afraid to ask are ashamed of learning”, no question is foolish (specially not here). Also tell if you managed to solve the problem.

    If anyone has a better solution or would like to add to mine so that we can help Ram out do leave a comment!

    And you can also fire up your questions or tech challenges. Do it here for easy organization.

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