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Can Intel Atom N270 run Linux? Which distro?

Posted on 2013-12-22
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I have an older HP MINI with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270. It currently has XP installed, but I'd like to install Linux, if possible.

Is this Intel Atom N270 processor compatible with a "normal" Intel chip? I a guessing it is since I believe a vanilla version of XP is installed, though I didn't install it.

If the processor is "normal" in that sense, does someone have a recommended distro for this netbook. Also, is there software, Linux or otherwise, that will let me keep the XP installed and use part of the partition for Linux? If not, I can reformat the whole thing for Linux.
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Question by:jmarkfoley
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by:Dave Baldwin
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Yes, it can though it may only run 32-bit versions.  http://openbenchmarking.org/s/Intel%20Atom%20N270
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by:TobiasHolm
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Hi!

If you've never used Linux before, I'd recommend you to first try Linux Mint (http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php). Select to download the 32-bit Cinnamod edition with multimedia support.

If you don't like Mint, try Ubuntu 13.10 (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop). Select to download the 32-bit flavour Ubuntu 13.10 version.

If you need to create an USB-stick to install from you can use UNetbootin (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/).

Regards, Tobias
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rindi earned 150 total points
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Of course it will run Linux. It is an intel x86 based processor and so it will run OS's that are made for that architecture. As mentioned above you will have to go for a 32bit version of Linux, as this CPU doesn't have the x64 architecture needed for 64 bit OS's, which newer atoms have.

Most Linux distributions are delivered as iso files from which you can creat a LiveCD or LiveUSB stick. This means before you install anything you can try it out directly from that live media, most functions of the OS will be available and you can test things. But of course, when booted from the live media it'll be slower than when you install it.

There are several distro's I could recommend, particularly Zorin OS (based on Ubuntu, but with everything needed already included, and a very "windows-like" look and feel, very easy to use). Or another ubuntu based distro, very easy to use, is Linux Mint (I prefer the KDE or XFCE versions over the mate and cinammon versions). Or Korora, which is based on Fedora but much easier to use, and also with everything included. Or PCLinuxOS FullMonty, which is based on it's own sources, also very easy to use and very complete.

The site below has links to all those distros:

http://distrowatch.com
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by:Chris Millard
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With some HP Minis you could choose to have either XP or Linux when you purchased it - the Linux ones were cheaper of course. You might be able to get a set of Linux Restore disks for your model directly from HP.
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by:jmarkfoley
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Thanks all. I am a long time Linux user, but mostly Slackware and recently Debian. I wasn't sure about whether the Atom was instruction-set compatible, but from your answers that seems not to be a problem.

Nobody mentioned about the dual-boot/partition thing. Can I keep XP on this laptop AND install Linux? I've heard that Ubuntu can right on the Windows NTFS partition, true? I've never tried having a dual-boot Linux system so I'm a but out of my element here.
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by:Chris Millard
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Yes - when you install Ubuntu it will give you the option of either a dual installation or a clean wipe and install.
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by:TobiasHolm
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It's no problem to dual boot with WinXP. Just install Linux and select to keep the old partition (depending on what Linux dist you choose, but most popular dists have this feature in the installer).

Regards, Tobias
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by:rindi
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Whatever do you need to dual boot for? XP will be obsolete by June anyway, so I don't see any reason to keep that. But yes, you can easily dual boot. What you have seen about ntfs is using a tool called "wubi". I don't recommend that, it creates a large file that contains your OS on your ntfs partition, and that file can corrupt easily. It is always better to install it on a Linux native partition like ext4. Most installation routines of current Linux distro's allow you to shrink the original windows partition, so you get enough free space to create a new ext4 partition and swap partition on the HD, and then it installs to that new partition. It then also asks you where you want to have grub installed on, which then adds windows to the boot menu.
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by:jmarkfoley
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Thanks all
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