02 June 2023


 Some time ago, wanting a computer for my train room to run Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI), I purchased a used HP Mini 210 computer, complete with Atom 455 processor and 1GB of installed memory.

When it arrived I was irritated to learn that it didn't have a hard drive, so off to the getting place I went to get a 500MB SSD hard drive. While I was there, I picked up another 1GB memory stick to upgrade the ram (2GB is all it can take). I had a copy of Windows 7, so I decided to install it as the operating system.

I then tried to install JMRI and found that I needed a copy of Java that wasn't supported by Win7. So off to the Microsoft place I went to install Win10, a program that I normally hate but that's what I needed to run what I wanted to run.

Somewhere in there I also picked up another Mini, this one a 110 with the same processor that I upgraded to 2GB of installed memory as well. This one already had Win7 installed, with the same problems, so I upgraded it as well.

For some reason I got the 110 to work with JMRI first, so that became the train room computer. With Windows 10 installed these things are glacially slow, but they do work after a while. JMRI worked pretty quickly so that was fine,but since I didn't really need it for anything the 210 went on the shelf.

Fast forward a couple of years or so. Now that I am pursuing a degree in electronics, I need to take a class in C programming. I don't really want to subject my everyday laptop to schoolwork again, so I decided to pull out the old Mini 210.

I thought I would get a jump on the class by getting a copy of C for Dummies and getting familiar with it. The book recommended a Windows app of Ubuntu that the Mini will not support, however, there was the option of just using Linux instead of trying to find a Windows app. I've been playing with the idea of fooling around with Linux anyway, so that's the option I went for.

I searched the internets and the three versions (called Distros, who knew there were so many flavors of Linux?) that were most recommended were Puppy, Mint and Lubuntu (which is apparently a lighter, faster version of the classic Ubuntu)*. I downloaded all three and made USB sticks for them to try them out.

Puppy works great, but I couldn't get it to do anything. I later found out that it isn't considered to be a good distro for the beginners, it's just recommended for old slow computers with limited capabilities, which made it a good choice for the old Minis.

I then tried Lubuntu, but I think I must have gotten a corrupted file because I couldn't get it to load at all. I have since recreated another USB stick for it with a different mirror site, but I haven't tested it out yet**. That leaves Linux Mint.

I chose to install it exclusively, wiping out Windows 10 in the process, since I don't intend to use this computer for anything serious. In fact, I probably would have left it on the shelf if not for the C programming class. 

 I stuck the stick into the computer port and rebooted it. It took a while to initiate on the computer from the stick, but it finally came up. I selected the install option and it took a while to get all loaded up. I then selected the options that I wanted and restarted it. Everything booted up like it was supposed to, so it's all ready to go. I will be playing with it for the next few weeks and I'll let you know how it went.

At any rate, it is installed on the Mini as we speak, so I have taken the first steps.

*Apparently there is another flavor, LXLE, that is also recommended so I downloaded it as well. I also found a recommendation for the Android operating system. So if Mint doesn't work out for me, I will have other options.

**Nope, still doesn't work.