I've got an old Pentium III based Dell Laptop, the originally shipped with Windows 2K and has had Windows XP installed on it. I though I could get something useful out of it if I run Puppy, Lubuntu, or CrunchBang on it. I've created live CDs for each of the distros. I've test the CDs in other machines and the CDs are fine. But when I put them in the laptop, it won't boot.

The machine powers on and runs the self test. At that point, I can tell that it is reading the CD, but nothing ever happens. As far as I know the CD drive is fine.

I have confirmed that in the BIOS, the machine will boot from the optical drive.


  • Is there anything else I should check in the BIOS?
  • Are there other distributions that are better for older laptops?
  • Have you tried a LiveUSB instead? It may be a problem with you drive (I know you said it's fine, but we should check) – Davidson Chua Dec 4 '13 at 1:53
  • From looking at the BIOS setting, I don't believe that the laptop can boot from a USB drive. – epotter Dec 4 '13 at 2:20
  • Have you tried creating an installation DVD (not LiveCD)? – Davidson Chua Dec 4 '13 at 2:33
  • @DavidsonChua For these small distros, the LiveCD is the installation media as far as I can tell. – epotter Dec 4 '13 at 2:55

I would try Knoppix. I've had good luck with it running on older hardware in the past, especially when booting it as a LiveCD. Also I might try using Unetbootin to install an ISO onto a USB thumbdrive and boot the system using that instead.

             ss of unetbootin

  • +1. Knoppix has excellent hardware detection, and a USB is a good way of troubleshooting the problem. – Davidson Chua Dec 4 '13 at 2:07
  • a USB won't work, since OP stated (after this answer was written) that his BIOS doesn't do USB boot. – strugee Dec 4 '13 at 5:18
  • @strugee - thanks, he didn't mention that originally. I've used USB installations on P3 system before, so it is possible w/ that series of CPUs + MoBo's. – slm Dec 4 '13 at 5:29
  • UNetbootin an awesome app. +1 fa ya. – Ruban Savvy Dec 4 '13 at 5:30

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