Installing a Gnome Live CD to the hard drive
Q I have an old laptop, previously loaded with Windows 98. I have used the Gnome 2.12 Live distro. This has proved ideal and it works very well, except that starting it each time is a slow process. Is there any way this distro can be loaded to the hard disk? I presume this is not possible due to a lack of installing software. The problem with Linux is that it seems to grow more and more complex, whereas this distro seems ideal for people trying to make use of an old low-spec computer.
A You are correct in presuming that this particular CD cannot be used for installation. The disc is essentially a showcase for Gnome 2.12 and is based on an Ubuntu Live CD. The good news is that Ubuntu is also available in an installable version. Ubuntu is an excellent distribution that has come a long way in a very short time. You can download the installation CD from www.ubuntulinux.org. If you do not have broadband, you can request a CD copy be sent to you for free. You need the i386 install version for your laptop.
The appearance of Ubuntu's Gnome desktop is different, but this is purely down to the theme used (which you can easily change), but it works in exactly the same way. It is natural for software to become more complex as new features become available and new hardware makes more things possible. This is particularly true of the 'big two' desktop environments, Gnome and KDE. However, there are plenty of lighter alternatives for those that either do not want or are unable to run the latest bells and whistles. Take a look at IceWM, Xfce 4 and Fluxbox, all of which are available via Ubuntu's Synaptic package manager.
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