Just out of curiosity, as I seem to be dl'ing / burning a whole lot of install cd's that don't work...
What distro's are actually acceptable for 'legacy' hardware (Its being installed on an old Panasonic Toughbook CF-45 (P2, 128mb ram, 20gig hdd)
The *ubuntu's I can't seem to get past a kernel panic early in the boot - no matter what parameters I pass to the kernel (and I have slight concerns about the fact that each .iso is way bigger than what a cd can really hande...) Debian/Redhat similar but differing issues - never actually boot.
Slack/Knoppix/Suse work somewhat - but seem to have varying issues with the actual 'laptop' hardware... Dont close the lid cuz she'll never recover - or unexplained crash when you unplug the cord to go roam.
Seems the current supported hardware lists are pretty silly - if it's not less than 1yr old it's not on there it would seem.
Ahh dsl-n works so much better... Gotta be that kernel like you mentioned; Now I need to figure out how the heck to configure this - no rpms... pkgtools - very odd.
dsl is debian based so I believe you can just use apt-get to install packages. It does have a package mananger also, but I can't remember what it's called.
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The one thing I dont like about dsl - it's designed as a livecd/jumpdrive solution... Its really not setup for permanent install it seems - dsl's need to be reloaded each boot (annoying since I need that atmelusb dsl for wifi) gotta figure out how to get them to do that - I'm positive i'm missing some simple thing about it - too bad the docs are useless...
it's not about kernel capabilities, no problem using 2.6, it's rather a matter of right configuration. I recommend just unstable debian with kernel 2.6.18, it works just fine, all you do is download cd image with "net install" version, and it should work with your laptop. After initial install, you just use apt-get or dselect to download required packages.
Myself I compiled the kernel with hardware I have in my carputer, with custom logo at startup, minimized startup scripts so actual system with xwindow system is up and runnung within 12sec from ignition (1GHz epia TC w/512MB, boots from hard drive).
EPIA TC 1G 256MB 60GB Linux,WindowMaker, Roadnav, Xine, XMMS, iGuidance3
Lilliput 8", Pharos i360, WUSB11v2.6 WiFi
Older versions of slackware are still available from their repository. I'm fairly certain those will work for you.