Ubuntu 7.10 on an old PC

My little boy kept asking for Ubuntu on his PC, and I finally installed 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon last weekend. I ran into some problems I hadn't seen installing it on two newer PC's, so I thought I'd pass along some tips to others who may be making old systems brand new.

The first problem was that the GUI installer would not run on the small memory (256MB) system, so I had to use the alternate text installer. (Actually, as I found later, that may not have really been the problem.) The MD5 signature of the alternate installer ISO file I downloaded matched, and I burned a CD. That CD worked fine up through the point where it repartitioned the disk, blowing away the old working operating systems. But then the installation failed, on a CD read error.

I burned many more CD's of the older 7.04 Feisty Fawn as well as of 7.10, and all failed. First lesson learned too late: go ahead and spend the extra time letting the installer do the "verify CD" operation before you blow away your old OS. Finally I burned a brand new CD-RW (700MB - small ones won't hold it) at 4X speed, instead of the default "fastest possible speed" I had used earlier. It may have been the name brand (Maxell) CD-RW. Or it may have been writing at a slow speed (that was fast back in 1999 when the target PC was built). Anyway, that did the trick, and I had no more CD read errors. Maybe the original GUI installer would have worked if it had been burned on a high quality CD at low speed.

Once 700MB of software was installed, it immediately set about downloading updates to replace a great deal of what I had just installed. Sheesh, the OS is only a few weeks old and already everything is outdated. Why do they even bother with the CD image instead of just shipping a net bootloader?

The net update stalled - the screen seemingly frozen. After an hour of uncertain waiting, I broke out of it, killed a runaway process, and looked to see whether enough of the system was stable to allow it to recover. The problem was scrollkeeper. For some reason it causes no trouble on two newer PC's, but here it prevents software updates from completing.

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=50796

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=596182 

The draconian fix suggested in a forum, to make all scrollkeeper executables non-executable, took care of the problem and the new system now works fine. Cool games and all.




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I am a software engineer in San Diego, president of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (spec.org), formerly a mathematician and a violist.

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