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I have an old Dell Inspiron 630m with Windows XP and I want to put some Linux distro on it. I have tried Ubuntu 12 but it did not work (nothing happend). Downloading older versions is slow. I am not a nerd (only wanabe) so I'm afraid of installations that are more complicated than Ubuntu. But the old laptop is a great tool for messing up so I ask you, which distro should I try and how can I get it.

EDIT: I went for Debian (Crunchbag looked nice but too big step for me from Ubuntu). I deleted Windows in GPARTED but now I'm missing firmware, ipw2200-bss.fw. How do I add it to my dead laptop?

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That's a very good excuse to learn the command line! :) Not using X at all will make that laptop seem quite fast! (And you will learn at an accelerated rate.) Maybe Debian with the network installation boot cd: debian.org/distrib/netinst#netboot – Christopher Jan 13 '13 at 1:13
Google! wiki.debian.org/ipw2200 Use an Ethernet cable temporarily if needed. – Christopher Jan 14 '13 at 0:13
Great! The cable saved me. Debian small CD and GPARTED with help from you and youtube – AWE Jan 15 '13 at 13:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

From what I found, this laptop is powerful enough to run a lightweight GUI (like XFCE, Openbox etc...).

You could start using Debian (which isn't much more complicated than Ubuntu) or Arch Linux (which is more difficult, but will be a good experience).

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You might want to check out CrunchBang. Like Ubuntu, it is based on Debian, however, it uses the Openbox window manager and in turn is significantly lighter on resources. I can't tell you specifically how well it will work on an Inspiron 630m, but it is definitely a solid distro. The project lead, Philip Newborough, has done an incredible job of blending simplicity, beauty, and a "just works" functionality.

Here are some links to get you started:

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