[SOLVED] Trouble trying to revive an old pre-built with Puppy Linux ?

pegasuslatte

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Apr 6, 2020
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As the title suggest, I'm having trouble trying to revive an old pre-built with Puppy Linux. The aforementioned pre-built is an Acer Aspire X3200 with the following specifications:
  • Athlon II X2 4400+
  • 1.5Gb DDR2
  • No storage
  • Nvidia GeForce 8200
See the idea is that this would be a media PC in the living room connected to the TV monitor (as we have no TV subscription whatsoever the monitor is technically unused) for anyone to use (probably family video calls too). Since we use Netflix a lot I decided not to use media center OS like LibreELEC (as it has no Netflix support?) and opted for Puppy Linux (fossapup) instead, one of the main reasons is that I've got no spare storage at hand, only spares flash drive, so the idea was to have it boot via usb. That and Puppy Linux has a friendlier interface which is important as older person with no Linux experience might use this computer. Oh and of course the computer is a darned potato.

At first booting would just end in black screen, a quick Google search and I found a suggestion to load fossapup without kernel modules, which worked (but it would ONLY boot using that option). However the display resolution maxed out at 1280x1024, which means it doesn't show full screen on the TV (32" Sharp Aquos). I figured out it's because of that damned Nvidia IGP needing its driver so I searched around with skepticism (ya know, nvidia, linux, not really best buddies). Turns out there is a legacy Nvidia driver in the Puppy Package Manager (304 something if I'm not mistaken). Trying to install the aforementioned package I would be greeted with a "No Swap" warning (possibly due to running via USB), so I decided to ignore the error and install it anyway. Everything went well, I could even boot with kernel modules, and the cursor would show in full screen. However the screen would just flicker frantically and nothing can be seen but the cursor. Rebooting without kernel modules would produce the same result.

At this point I've given up for the day, though still curious:
  • Is the use of USB the culprit and will using an SSD work? The motherboard probably only have SATAII interface but I suppose it's still better than a spinning disk.
  • Not spending a penny would be preferable but if a new storage is needed I was wondering if RAM upgrade would be worth it. 2x2Gb is around $10 combined and 2x4Gb is around $20 combined where I live. I suppose if I'm gonna spend a new storage might as well upgrade the RAM.
 
you should be able to scrounge up even just a low cost 500 GB spinning drive to use for an installation destination for $20 or so these days...

You can then try Lubuntu, which is quite lightweight, easy on system resources, known to work well on older systems...(it does not take a lot just to watch movies/surf the net using a TV as a monitor...)

(More RAM may not even be needed...)
 

pegasuslatte

Prominent
Apr 6, 2020
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you should be able to scrounge up even just a low cost 500 GB spinning drive to use for an installation destination for $20 or so these days...

You can then try Lubuntu, which is quite lightweight, easy on system resources, known to work well on older systems...(it does not take a lot just to watch movies/surf the net using a TV as a monitor...)

(More RAM may not even be needed...)
Hey, thanks for the reply. I actually bought a new SSD for my main build so I can use the existing HDD, and also got some new RAM sticks ('twas dead cheap so I don't mind). I tried Lubuntu and PopOS (the only other distro iso I had laying around), installed nvidia-driver-340, but it just won't work consistently. Often times it'll output crazy "artifacts", often times it would just output cursor, or nothing at all. It would also randomly freeze mid-session even when I'm not doing anything. (20210403) Just now Lubuntu crashed when I replugged my WiFI adapter lol)

Seems this computer especially the Nvidia IGP does not aged well, really tempted to just slap Windows 10 and hope for the best lol.
 
Last edited:

pegasuslatte

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Apr 6, 2020
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Well, after a week of running Windows 10 and seeing its horrors on old hardware, I finally found the oomph to revisit the case, and finally got Linux (Lubuntu) to work on my machine.

So turns out it's an old and known issue about MSI interrupts that makes the driver fail to initialize. Unfortunately to the best of my knowledge this issue never got properly fixed by Nvidia, but there's a workaround, which is simply just disabling MSI (major thanks to these lovely people of the internet).

It was as simple as adding options nvidia NVreg_EnableMSI=0 to a kernel module configuration file (it could be under any name; in my case, /etc/modprobe.b/video.conf), or adding pci=nomsi as one of the kernel boot command.

I also add the following to a config file (again, any name) to blacklist nouveau, as I read it can cause some problems:
Code:
blacklist nouveau
options nouveau modeset=0
Trying to add that was a hassle as the driver would just crash on login screen, so I added that through GRUB > Ubuntu recovery mode > Drop to root
 
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