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Re: Installing Debian with only 64mb RAM

peter.schleichmann@t-online.de wrote:
> I've found an old laptop (MAXDATA Artist Stanford) with 64mb ram and
> tried to install a minimal Debian system. The installer warned me
> about low system memory but I could continue. I didn't select any
> additional kernel module and continued again. After loading basic
> system components (like lilo installer, netcfg etc) the system
> showed a black screen with a white flashing cursor. And that's
> it. The installer doesn't go forward.

I worry that much older hardware has had hardware support dropped from
the upstream Linux kernel.  I have run into similar problems with
quite newer hardware.  You may have a case where you must run an older
kernel rather than a newer kernel.

> How can I complete my Debian installation?

If I were doing this I would use one of these strategies.

1. I would install an *older* version of Debian.  Something from the
Sarge 3.1 timeframe might be good for that system.  Or perhaps Etch 4.
Use that for installation.  Install the minimum system.  Then
*upgrade* as far as you can through each of the major releases.  Sarge
3.1 to Etch 4.  Etch 4 to Lenny 5.  Lenny 5 to Squeeze 6.  And so
forth.  Stop at each major version testing functionality at such a
point that you can revert to the previous kernel if needed.

2. Remove the disk drive from the laptop.  Install the disk drive into
a different system with more memory.  A desktop with a laptop IDE
adaptor cable would be perfect.  Remove the cable from any other disk
in the system so that only the laptop disk is available to the larger
memory desktop system.  Then install Debian on that system.  Install
just the minimum system.  Then transfer the disk back into the laptop.

3. Use a livecd boot.  Install using debootstrap.  The Debian wiki has
instructions for this process.  Due to the low memory I think the
livecd boot will be more painfully slow.

4. Other things I didn't think of but other people will think of and
suggest.  :-)

Good luck!


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