Hello I need some help and direction.

Hi there,

With the release of the Raspberry Pi and the fact that its going to be using Linux of some flavour. I have never used Linux, I think that I have allways been a little scared of it

But I have a strong intention to get hold off one of these Pi’s and to help get my newphew, who’s 10, involved in comuters and computing beyond the control pad of his console.

As there are some big waiting lists to get a Pi i thought my first job would be to get to grips with linux and find out what kind of things I can do on it, and why it is used by some people in prefferance to Windows.

Ok, so my plan is this I have a Dell Laptop that i dont use, as it came with vista and only 1gb of memory and has never run very well. So Im happy to wipe it clean and install Linux on it. However I have no idea how to go about this or what flavour of Linux to use. I believe the Pi is using the Debian one so it may be prudent to use the same one.

I guess my first project will be just to get the Laptop working in a stable way with Linux. If someone could point me to some kind of guide which goes through this step by step. I assume that i will need to make a list of all the hardwear that the laptop has in it.

My second project will be getting to grips with Python, which is the language of choice for the Pi but thats something for another forum.

Once I am comfortable with all of this ill need to find some project for my nephew and I to do, so if anyone can think of any sites or books that are pitched to this level then that would be great.

Thanks in advance as allways for your help in this
Brian Moran.

Hi there Brian, welcome to the UK Linux forums.

I would recommend that you install Peppermint OS Two on your Dell as you’ve stated a low amount of RAM. Of course, Linux is perfect for old machines to give them a new lease of life, and there are plenty of “distro’s” that will easily run on your laptop.

I state Peppermint Two as it’s a very very lightweight OS and it’s based on the ever-popular Ubuntu distro, so support is easy to come by and because development is at an all time high at the moment, you’ll be sure to have the most up-to-date software.

You can find Peppermint OS Two here:

You can install most Linux distro’s from either a LiveCD or a *LiveUSB.

Our forum admin, Mark has also made a tutorial that you can follow to install Peppermint, although installation is very straight forward.
You can find this tutorial here:


Although the tutorial does say Acer Aspire One, there is a lot of useful information in there, and most of it applies to other laptops/netbooks as well.

I’m sure if you check Amazon, or somewhere similar there will books on coding with Python in Linux. Currently I personally wouldn’t have a clue as I don’t do programming.

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

*Peppermint does have the tendency to not “like” some USB sticks, and sometimes it doesn’t even like certain laptops for the live testing. However you can get around the live testing issue by selecting the “Install Peppermint” option, and then quitting the installation. It just seems to be a bug which the guys behind Peppermint are fully aware of, and trying to fix.

Hi count_zero99uk, and welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

Get yourself a copy of Ubuntu, or PeppermintOS (Two) … burn it to a CD/DVD … boot to it … and you will be walked through the installation.

You’ll also be offered the chance to “test drive” it from the LiveCD (you just created) without making any changes to your hard drive.

See this page:

You can download the Ubuntu ISO image from there, but also click the “Show me how” buttons on that page for instructions on how to create the LiveCD or LiveUSB (stick).

If you’d rather try PeppermintOS (Two) … which as BkS says is a “lighter” Linux distrubution … the ISO image can be downloaded from here:

For some Python projects, why not try these:

If you have any further questions, or require assistance, just ask.


There is also a tutorial for installing PeppermintOS (Two) from a LiveUSB here:
Just skip steps 10 and 11, which are specific to the Acer Aspire One netbook.

Thanks for the help :slight_smile:

Im actualy really looking forward to getting this done, as much for me as my nephew - as there is allways the chance he’ll look at it and just go im not interested.

So plan of action is –

Read up on the different flavours of linux - find one that suits - from what people have said here and elsewhere my need to have somethign similar needent be too restrictive for the laptop and the pi


Then comeback telling tales of my success or whimpering with burned eyebrows cos its on fire :slight_smile:

Till then take care and thanks for the pointers.


Sounds like a plan to me … Good luck, and if you have any other questions, or get stuck … you know where to come :slight_smile:

And yeh, please do let us know how you get on.

Hi there,

I managed to make a live stick version of Mint 12 which ran straight of the stick, however there seemed to be a problem with the wireless of adapter. Said somethign about not having the firmwear. So i tried again with Fedore I think it was and that had the same issue.

So after a bit of digging around i worked out that i needed to download some more drives, thankfully i had a spare Ethernet cable pluged that in redid the mint live stick and it seems to work fine.

Not sure what to do next. The desk top looks pretty bare.

As stated before im wanting to try and get ahead in python (and actualy maybe C++ as I found a good book in the library for that).

Basicaly i feel like i have the blank canvas in front of me and im not sure where to start.

Any pointers again would be great.

OH just thought

From the usb live stick there is an install mint option - take it that fully wipes the HD and installs Linux Mint yup?

Well if it was me in your situation, I’d start by looking up some Python basics or what you can “translate” from “C”. The wireless issue seems to be common, there’s a thread on the forum somewhere that shows a fix for it though. Though it’s for Ubuntu I think, Mint is Ubuntu, just very GREEN.so it’s easily translatable so to speak.

To answer your last question; Yes that option wipes the HDD and installs Linux Mint on the full drive.

The wireless issue … we need to know what wireless adapter you are using.

Hit Ctrl+Alt+T to open a terminal.

When the terminal opens, enter:

sudo lshw -C network

hit enter, and enter your password when asked.

Then post back here what is returned in the terminal.

Be aware … Linux commands ARE case sensitive, and when typing your password into a terminal you won’t see anything echoed to screen (not even *****) but it IS going in.

by count_zero99uk

redid the mint live stick and it seems to work fine.

I would deduct from that the wireless issues were solved

You could well be right … but then again, why mention it if it’s not an issue … just thought I’d cover the base as it were :slight_smile:


Yes it was solved, i mentioned it as i was showing what steps i was going through for posterity and i was asked to show how i was getting on :).


No problem … just thought I’d cover it “just in case” :slight_smile:

So it’s pointers in how to start programming in Python you’re after ?


Im wanting to look at Python and C++ also im looking for any sites/books or even languages that are aimed at helping children get into programming.

As far as Python is concerned you could start with getting an IDE for python like Eric
The Eric Python IDE which is based on Qt gui toolkit
Although not used Eric myself (I am a bit more familiar with Qt C++ side of things) it seems like a good choice.

It is in the Mint repos. therefore you should be able to install it.

Would suggest to run through as many tutorials as you can find.
Just start with the simple ones like Practical Excercises - Computing 101
or this one PythonLearn - Exploring Data


“It is in the Mint repos” ?

Whats that mean please?


It means that you can install it with either Synaptic Package Manager or the Software center

repos = the software repositories

Let me explain … in Windows, when you want some software, you go off online looking for it, usually buy it, then you download an executable installer (.exe)

In Linux, the distribution maintains a “software repository” containing a ton of software that has all been tested as working with your distribution, and can be kept free of malicious code … it also means you can install most software with just a few mouse clicks, or a single command.

3 ways to install the eric package -

  1. Open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and enter:
sudo apt-get install eric

hit enter, and enter your password when asked … eric will be downloaded from the software repositories (repos) and installed for you.

  1. Open the Synaptic Package Manager … search for eric … click the little box next to eric, and select “Mark for installation” … accept any dependencies … click “Apply” … eric will be downloaded from the software repositories (repos) and installed for you.

  2. Start the Software Centre … search for eric, click “install” … eric will be downloaded from the software repositories (repos) and installed for you.

Either of theses 3 methods will install the “eric” IDE, but be aware they can only be used one at a time … Synaptic won’t work if you have the Software Centre open etc … the Update Manager will also interfere with them, so that must not be open either.

Cool, that seems very user friendly - are you sure this is Linux were using and not the Amiga OS. Oh how i miss you :).

Anyway onto other matters. Linux Mint is now fully embeded and installed on the laptop, the only way Vista is comming back is if the universe does a rollback. I ran through its update softwear and that was surprisingly fast and painfree as well.

My only concern is that the lap top felt a bit hot when i was done, im not sure if this was an issue with the laptop or what so can someone recomend something to monitor the internal temps of the laptop?

Thanks again, ill not be doing anything else the evening with the laptop but i will be back at it fresh tommorow.

Take care

Install lm-sensors and gkrellm:

sudo apt-get install lm-sensors gkrellm

Now configure lm-sensors:

sudo sensors-detetct

and answer YES (y) to all the questions.

When finished, and back at a $ prompt, run:


and post the output back here.

If the sensors are working we’ll then go through starting (and configuring if necessary) gkrellm which will give you a running “real time” desktop readout of the sensors. (it may have been automatically added to the programs that run at startup, I can’t remember).

Can you tell us the make/model of the laptop, so we can search for any know issues.

Is it getting hot by where you would expect the CPU to be … ie. by the fan … or somewhere else ? … which could indicate a graphics driver issue.

Can you also post the output from these 2 commands:

sudo lshw -C display


cat /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp

The first of those will appear to pause for a while … just wait :slight_smile: … and remeber Linux commands ARE case sensitive, so that’s a capital C.

You aren’t the only one that misses Workbench/AmigaOS … there seem to be a LOT of ex Amiganauts in the Linux community :slight_smile:

You could always install e-uae (Egalitarian Ubiquitous Amiga Emulator) … but you’ll need the kickstart rom’s … they are available online, as is most of the software if you look hard enough :wink:

sudo apt-get install e-uae

Or even take a look at AROS:

Thanks for the swift responce Mark i really appreciate it, ill run through that tomorrow.

Time for bed me thinks.

Take care all