Well I'm still on with the early 2000's Dell Inspiron 2600, and I have had a right mixed bag.
I downloaded A8 Bios last night, and stuck it on a floppy disk. It was pretty simple to install and I pretty much flashed the Bios. Then I decided to try a number of distros to see how they functioned. It seems the rubbish Bios, as well as the lousy graphics card has been te reason for the majority of my woes with this machine.
1. Lubuntu- Still won't load. Sounds like it is kicking the s**t out of my harddrive, before dying from the black screen of death.
2. No joy with the newest version of Macpup. It starts to download from live cd, then just hangs on a blank screen.
3. Puppy 5.1- None starter. Same as above.
4. Vector Linux- Ditto.
5. My first bit of joy! PCLinux, after some Grateful Dead concert screen effects, downloaded and installed, something that it wouldn't do last time. Not bad screen resolution, and good colours.
PCLinux is a very good out-of-the-box Linux distro. It found my broadband router, and only needed my Broadcom INF. file, which I had stored onto my pendrive. It was easily downloaded, and my Broadcom/BT Voyager card lit up and found my router!
What put me off just staying with PCL was my opinion on the setup. I thought it was quite basic, and that other packages may offer more.
6. Simply Mepis- Loaded perfectly. The bug issues that I had before have gone, and I was impressed by the colourful graphics that I could now see on the desktop. HOWEVER I decided to try just ONE more distro.
7. Linux Mint 9- Totally awesome! I finally got this distro loaded on the crappy 2600! After putting the install cd in, I pressed ESC and selected 'Compatibility' mode. After this came a very simple install (6 steps no less) and prepared for the worst after reboot....which thankfully DIDN'T happen! Mint 9 configured itself to my graphics card/kernal and has everything that I need!
Coming loaded with VLC Player (which I like) and other goodies, as well as being loaded with simple easy to use repositories and download options, this is by far the BEST distro, coming just ahead of Puppy retro 4.3.1 (which I forgot to mention worked extremely well). Mint found my Broadcom wireless card straight away (downloading the driver automatically from the internet) and also configured my wireless in less than 30 seconds! Coming fully loaded with Open Office (better than the abysmal Abiword), and configured for streaming media (unlike GXine on Puppy Linux) it is the easiest and most painless linux distro I have used.
Free, fabulous and fantastic!