Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

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br1anstorm
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Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by br1anstorm »

I know some will think this idea crazy..... but here goes.

My main system is a multi-boot setup. On a Win7 laptop I have Mint 17.3, Linux Lite and PCLinuxOS installed (I use Mint 99% of the time, but still go to the others now and again). Because I didn't want to lose/overwrite/replace the original Windows MBR, I put each of the various Linux Grubs on the same partition as each parent distro, and use EasyBCD in Win7 as the "first" bootloader: it then offers the choice of Linux distros and it all works fine (though I had to get help from austin.texas and goldfinger in the original setting up of the Grubs).

All that is background. I also have an old WinXP laptop (1GB RAM, 2Ghz Pentium 4 m CPU, 40GB HDD, 32-bit). For various reasons I want to make use of it. It has virtually nothing saved/stored on the drive - and before anyone comments, I don't expect to use XP to connect to the internet: I keep it because it runs one or two graphics programs which I am reluctant to abandon.

So.... I want to set up that old XP laptop to dual boot with Linux Mint. First question: which version of Mint should I use - would 17 or 17.3 Xfce, my current preference, be OK or should I look to an earlier version?

I reckon I'm OK with the partitioning process (famous last words.....!)

I have established that EasyBCD won't work on a WinXP system (because XP has a different and earlier way of bootloading than Win7, 8 and 10 which EasyBCD can deal with). So that's not an option in this instance.

My real question - and anxiety - is whether the "usual" arrangement of installing a Linux distro as dual boot alongside an existing Win XP OS, and having the Linux Grub replace the MBR and take over the boot functions for both OSs, will work?

I ask because I always like to research before trying something unfamiliar, and I have seen quite a few forum posts from people trying this combination of dual-boot who have found that while the Linux Grub will boot Mint OK, it can't see or show the WinXP option. Is this a regular or known issue? I don't want to go ahead with an attempt at dual-boot installation, overwrite the MBR with Mint's Grub, and then find I can't get into XP because Grub can't see it. I don't have an XP reinstall disk (and the idea of having to resort to Hirens BootCD and/or restore an old XP install fills me with dread).

There is a brilliant step-by-step guide from Derek_S in this old and oddly-titled forum thread viewtopic.php?f=46&t=187730 at his posts of 10-12 Feb 2015 toward the end of that thread. But it's not clear whether that particular exercise was taken all the way through (the thread seems to have been left loose!). So I'd welcome comments from anyone who still remembers enough about WinXP to advise on how to get it to play nicely in a dual boot with Mint.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by mr_raider »

Can you specify the exact Pentium 4 model you have. There are several revisions, some which do support 64 bit. The 32 bit version works on most Pentiums.

Grub will usually work fine dual booting XP. For reasons too complex to get into here, I usually recommend creating a separate 1 or 2gb /boot partition formatted as ext2 for situations like yours. Use manual partitioning if at all possible.
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br1anstorm
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by br1anstorm »

Hi mr-raider

The CPU is an Intel Pentium 4 - M, 2.00 Ghz, codename Northwood, Family F, Model 2, Revision D1 (all this from a handy little utility called Speccy - which has assorted other details if you need them!). One thing I can't immediately check, but may be relevant, is whether it is, or has, "PAE" (whatever that is!)

The laptop is an ancient (?) Compaq Evo N610c. It runs XP SP3 32-bit. Motherboard by Compaq, chipset Intel i845D rev 04. ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics. Hard drive notional 40GB, currently unpartitioned, formatted NTFS, with 10GB used (almost all by the XP OS and the few programs i have installed - there is little data on the drive).

So all in all, a pretty low-spec machine! But If it can be kept in use, why not?

The idea of a separate boot partition takes me into uncharted territory. If we end up going that route I'll need a lot of hand-holding....

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jimallyn
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by jimallyn »

I have dual booted a number of WinXP computers with Mint, including the one I am on at this very moment. Never had any troubles. (In fact, this one is actually triple booting at the moment. I originally installed 17 Cinnamon on it, but it's a rather puny computer by today's standards, and I found that 18.2 XFCE runs well on it. Haven't gotten around to remove 17 Cinnamon yet.)
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Pierre
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by Pierre »

you shouldn't have any issues with that dual_boot.

- I've got an older win-xp that is still dual_booting with LM09 LTS,
& neither system will ever get updated, anymore.

but that older version of LinuxMint was also lighter on resources needed,
& so you may need to use the XFCE version of the latest LinuxmInt.
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Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] - when your problem is solved!
and DO LOOK at those Unanswered Topics - - you may be able to answer some!.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by prestonR »

I recently tested various current distros to run on an 32bit eee-pc 1.6ghz 1/2gb ram and I have 2 major recommendations:
- get a minimum of 2gb ram
- get an ssd

If you're stuck at 1gb/spinner hdd:
void - sparky - antiX
Sparky has all desktop environments you can think of. Void and Sparky will run on a little over 100Mb, antiX a tad more, if you keep an eye on startup apps, panel notifiers and (what?) eye candy. They are perfectly usable and approachable, trust me, I'll bin any distro in a blink if things annoy me. AntiX is great and runs amazingly well, considering it has a wealth of software included, maybe the most complete of the minis, however, and that's my gripe with it too; why not offering a 'minimal' antiX if the target are low-spec machines?

If you manage to beef-up ram to 2gb:
lite - peppermint - Bhodi - wattOS
Maybe in this order I'd rate the slim ubuntus, very little differences but all will be fine with hdd and quite snappy with ssd. You could try them on 1Gb ram if you're patient.
Mint 18.2 Mate will be usable but sluggish on hdd, ok on ssd. Turn all compositing off and it's getting really nice with an ssd. Some lag at app starts.

Manjaro Lxde, Lxqt or Xfce work brilliantly but sadly arch is giving up on 32bit, a real shame. Ubuntu is set to follow but here at least we're talking years, not weeks.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by mr_raider »

br1anstorm wrote:Hi mr-raider

The CPU is an Intel Pentium 4 - M, 2.00 Ghz, codename Northwood, Family F, Model 2, Revision D1 (all this from a handy little utility called Speccy - which has assorted other details if you need them!). One thing I can't immediately check, but may be relevant, is whether it is, or has, "PAE" (whatever that is!)

The laptop is an ancient (?) Compaq Evo N610c. It runs XP SP3 32-bit. Motherboard by Compaq, chipset Intel i845D rev 04. ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics. Hard drive notional 40GB, currently unpartitioned, formatted NTFS, with 10GB used (almost all by the XP OS and the few programs i have installed - there is little data on the drive).

So all in all, a pretty low-spec machine! But If it can be kept in use, why not?

The idea of a separate boot partition takes me into uncharted territory. If we end up going that route I'll need a lot of hand-holding....
You do not have 64 bit. You must install 32 bit. Be aware that a lot of software no longer exists in 32 bit format like chrome. I suggest Mint XFCE 32 bit. If that is too slow, go with Lubuntu 16.04 32 bit.

If i recall winXP does not have a partition resizing tool. You would need to boot the MInt live CD (or USB if supported by motherboard) and use gparted to shrink the partition that contains win XP. Mint should be fine with around 20gb, around 2gbs will be used for a swap partition. SOmetimes win XP will throw an error and you need run scandisk to fix it after resizing on next boot.

The separate /boot partition is not obligatory, but some installs can fail on old drives that were partitioned by windows XP era tools. You can try the standard install and see what happens. Do NOT use LVM or encrypted partitions. And do NOT use btrfs, XFS or any other filesystem but ext4. Ideally, you would even avoid creating an extended partition.

I can't give you more advice without seeing your drive partition table. If you manage to boot the Mint CD, open a terminal and type the following

Code: Select all

sudo parted -l
And post the results.
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by anticapitalista »

prestonR wrote:AntiX is great and runs amazingly well, considering it has a wealth of software included, maybe the most complete of the minis, however, and that's my gripe with it too; why not offering a 'minimal' antiX if the target are low-spec machines?
Stop griping!
antiX offers full (700MB), base (520MB), core (200MB) and net (150MB) versions. (size of iso in brackets).

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by jimallyn »

anticapitalista wrote:antiX offers full (700MB), base (520MB), core (200MB) and net (150MB) versions. (size of iso in brackets).
Sure does, and they run quite well on older machines. I've got antiX running on a computer that came with Win98 on it, and it runs amazingly well. It's a great choice for "antique" computers.
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by prestonR »

Stop griping!
antiX offers full (700MB), base (520MB), core (200MB) and net (150MB) versions. (size of iso in brackets)
Woosh. Will check this out, must have mixed-up antix and MX, although the version I tested on the eee-pc was definitely antix17a3full.

And I always liked the name of the main guy there ... :D
Last edited by prestonR on Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by jimallyn »

prestonR wrote:I always liked the name of the main guy there
Me too. And I love that he named Version 16 "Berta Cáceres."
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by br1anstorm »

Thanks to all who have commented so far.

I'm not going to get into the debate between prestonR and jimallyn about possible lightweight alternatives to Mint, like antiX. I have looked at some. But the bottom line is...... I like Mint! And I'm now used to it. So I'd rather install a version of Mint alongside XP on my old laptop. I happen to prefer the Xfce edition to the graphic-heavier Cinnamon, so I'm hoping that Mint Xfce will prove suitable.

I'd be interested to know which version of Mint jimallyn has as dual boot on his old XP machine. I'm wondering whether to try installing the latest (18.2 - Sonya) or play safe and go for 17.3 (Rosa) or even one of the earlier ones like 13 (Maya)? Anyone got any thoughts on the choice?

I'll respond to mr_raider with info on my partition setup once I have downloaded whichever version of Mint I'm going to try to install. It's true that XP doesn't have a partitioning/resizing facility. I was intending either to do a simple partition of my 40GB into two roughly equal partitions (with XP on one of them), using Gparted from the Mint Live CD/DVD; or simply to choose the "install alongside..." option and leave Mint to do the partitioning automatically. Choices, choices!

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by itsme4401 »

@Brainstorm:
I have two old machines (bought in 2008 (local shop, no brand) resp 2009 (Sony laptop) both were XP-machines. 2 1/2 year ago I deleted XP after installing Linux Mint MATE-desktop on both. Very fine machines since then.
In my opinion it's the Desktop environment that is decisive for the final performance and MATE claims to be good for XP-machines & they make that true as far is I am concerned.
Hope you will find a good solution to your problem!!
PS.: Maya is EOL as far as I know.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by mr_raider »

br1anstorm wrote:Thanks to all who have commented so far.

I'm not going to get into the debate between prestonR and jimallyn about possible lightweight alternatives to Mint, like antiX. I have looked at some. But the bottom line is...... I like Mint! And I'm now used to it. So I'd rather install a version of Mint alongside XP on my old laptop. I happen to prefer the Xfce edition to the graphic-heavier Cinnamon, so I'm hoping that Mint Xfce will prove suitable.

I'd be interested to know which version of Mint jimallyn has as dual boot on his old XP machine. I'm wondering whether to try installing the latest (18.2 - Sonya) or play safe and go for 17.3 (Rosa) or even one of the earlier ones like 13 (Maya)? Anyone got any thoughts on the choice?

I'll respond to mr_raider with info on my partition setup once I have downloaded whichever version of Mint I'm going to try to install. It's true that XP doesn't have a partitioning/resizing facility. I was intending either to do a simple partition of my 40GB into two roughly equal partitions (with XP on one of them), using Gparted from the Mint Live CD/DVD; or simply to choose the "install alongside..." option and leave Mint to do the partitioning automatically. Choices, choices!
Never, ever let the installer do automatic partition. Do it manually. You may screw up but it will be valuable life long lesson.

Go with the latest xfce version. For a machine that old it makes no difference. If it doesn't boot come back and we can suggest something else.
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by hrmcrm »

I have a ThinkPad T23 vintage 2002 with a Pentium III 1130 MHz CPU and 1 GB RAM. It has a "Designed for Windows XP" sticker on the front. The license sticker on the bottom is for Windows 2000 Pro.
It now multi-boots Windows 98SE and XP, and Mint 18.2 Xfce. Mint runs fine with both 4.4 and 4.10 series kernels. I use Mint to safely access the Internet. The two Windows run old MIDI utilities.
Howard
ThinkPads 310ED, 600E, T23, X41, X60, T61, X201, E550

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by chris__ »

I used Linux Mint 17.x XFCE on netbook Samsung NC 10 which had XP installed by Samsung.
I decreased XP partition and created new partition formatted to ext3 or ext4.
I installed Linux Mint to its own partition and chose to install grub to MBR.
It booted both XP and Linux Mint with no problem for some months.

Although my personal opinion about XFCE on nc10 is: slow. Usable but slow.
I changed it to Window Maker.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by prestonR »

the bottom line is...... I like Mint!
Hey, so do I, why do you think I'm hanging around here? :D

Screenshot of System monitor and Conky, eee-pc, Mint Mate 18.2 on 15gb partition of 128gb msata
eee-mate.jpg
If system-monitor and the indicator-cpufreq process are killed it idles at under 200Mb, including conky and remote desktop running. It runs cool and is responsive.

Mate 18.2 with the original 1gb ram and spinner hdd was simply not much fun and temps were about 10C higher. Since I set this up for somebody else it was either upgrade to 2gb/ssd or change to a slimmer distro.

Hope this helps, great little machines, enjoy!

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by br1anstorm »

Thanks again to all for comments. Nice to know I'm not the only person inclined to run Linux alongside XP on an old machine!

I'm inclined to take mr_raider's advice both on manual partitioning, and on trying to install the latest (18.2 Xfce) version of Mint. I have managed to make partitions before, using Gparted, to install various Linux distros on my main laptop. Doesn't mean I won't screw up. But I'd prefer to install a "known good" version on this older and less powerful laptop, rather than run into problems of compatibility or sluggish speeds and then struggle to sort out the resulting headaches.

Hence my original questions about which version(s) of Mint would play best; and also my nervousness about replacing Windows MBR with Grub (which to my mind is a drastic if not irreversible step....) and then finding Grub can't see or boot XP.

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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by jimallyn »

br1anstorm wrote:I'd be interested to know which version of Mint jimallyn has as dual boot on his old XP machine.
I originally installed Mint 17.0 Cinnamon on it, and updated it to 17.3 over time. But things like all the scripts on Facebook tend to drag it down, so I decided to put Mint 18.2 XFCE on it. XFCE doesn't use anywhere near as much memory as Cinnamon does, and it doesn't require the graphics acceleration that Cinnamon does. So, I think 18.2 XFCE is certainly worth a try.
br1anstorm wrote:...or even one of the earlier ones like 13 (Maya)?
Mint 13 is now considered obsolete, and there are no more updates for it. Not even security updates. I don't think anybody here would recommend that you install Mint 13 on anything you intend to allow on the internet.
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Re: Installing Mint as dual-boot on old WinXP laptop

Post by br1anstorm »

I don't want to stray off topic or confuse the discussion which I started...... but I have just unearthed a how-to guide on dual booting XP with Linux Ubuntu which I find very interesting.

I have always been a tad nervous about a dual boot where the Linux Grub replaces the Windows MBR. Grub may be a fine bootloader. But if something happens to it (eg because of a Windows update) then you are in trouble and have to worry about repair or rescue.

With Windows 7 and later there is the alternative of installing EasyBCD in Windows, installing the Linux distro and its Grub on their own partition, and then telling EasyBCD where to find Grub. It then offers the choice of OS to boot. Nice and simple.

BUT - EasyBCD doesn't work with WinXP. So I assumed (like I guess most who have commented in this thread) that the only way to dual boot any Linux distro with XP would be to put Grub in place of the Windows XP MBR and rely on Grub to boot both OSs. Probably works fine (99% of the time?).

I just happen to have found this article http://www.thpc.info/dual/xp2knt/ntldr_ ... _xp2k.html - which I must have bookmarked years ago - about dual booting WinXP and Ubuntu using the Windows MBR bootloader. It's old (2008), and refers to Ubuntu v8.04. But it has led me to wonder: is that how-to guide, which involves editing bits of the MBR and the boot sector of Linux (!!) still valid and feasible? I'm just curious: could this be done now, with XP and Mint 18.2? Probably more complicated than simply letting Grub do all the booting. But still....maybe serious experts would like to comment on whether this alternative tweak is sensible or stupid?

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