Installing Ubuntu on Pentium M with forcepae

If trying to install Ubuntu (or Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu) 14.04 (or 14.10) on a Pentium M computer, you may get the following error:

ERROR: PAE is disabled on this Pentium M

ERROR: PAE is disabled on this Pentium M

Just restart the computer and when you come to the install menu…

lubuntu-pae-1

…hit F6 to get a menu of kernel parameters. Now, none of those parameters are what you want, so hit ESC. You should now be able to type forcepae at the end of the kernel command:
lubuntu-pae-3

Now, hit Return, and startup/installation of Ubuntu should proceed just normally.

Background
PAE is a CPU feature that has been available on most x86-CPUs since the Pentium Pro days. Since Ubuntu 12.10, it is a required feature. Some Pentium M CPUs have the PAE feature implemented, but the processor does not announce the feature properly. Since Ubuntu 14.04 the above forcepae option is available, to allow Linux to use PAE even if the CPU officially does not support it.

This affects mostly laptops from perhaps 2000-2005. These laptops are often good computers with 1400-2000MHz CPU and 512+ MB of RAM. As Windows XP is now officially unsupported by Microsoft owners of such harware might want to install an Ubuntu flavour on the computer instead.

There have been ways to make this work with Ubuntu 12.10-13.10. I suggest, abandon those versions and hacks completely, and make a fresh install of 14.04.

I have written before about Ubuntu on Pentium M without PAE.

Migrating from Windows XP
I would personally suggest Xubuntu or Lubuntu as a replacement for Windows XP: Both should be lightweight enough for your Pentium M computer, and both are easy to use with only a Windows background. Lubuntu is most Windows-like and the lightest of them. Xubuntu is a bit heavier (and nicer), and also resembles Mac OS X a bit.

I suggest the “Try Ubuntu without Installing” option. You will have an installera available inside Ubuntu anyways, and you can confirm that most things work properly before you wipe the computer.

Leave a comment ?

24 Comments.

  1. Thanks
    I am going to try this with Linux lite 2.0, as I received this error message on attempting to install it.

  2. I have no experience of Linux Lite, but it looks fine! You are welcome to post your findings here.

  3. Hey! today I took out of the bottom of a box, full of dust, an old but good laptop from 2004 (HP Pavilion ZT3000) I repaired the broken LCD and wanted to give it a new life, so my mom can use it.
    Thanks for the “forcepae” command, now the laptop is running Xubuntu 14.04.1 and it seems to run perfectly well. 😀

  4. Clear and concise instructions – much appreciated! Just resurrected an old Toshiba Portege with Lubuntu and hadn’t come across this error before. Many thanks!

  5. BINGO. Just put a dusty old thinkpad back into the mix with lubuntu and a $5 USB wifi/N adapter. I think I might even SSD the thing (they’re so cheap now!) – ha! what fun!

  6. Mark Smith

    Hello I’ve tried restarting it and keep getting the same message? Please help

  7. Mark… you need to install using 14.04… no older version work. And you need to follow the instructions exactly (about hitting F6 when the Ubuntu boot menu shows up, and adding the forcepae parameter). You need to be much more clear about what you are doing.

  8. for more information how you can install with FORCEPAE click here
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXvTQTRpczc

  9. Did you install this using a usb stick? I don’t see an option to restart the machine after seeing the pae error. Could you say how you did that?

    Thanks!

  10. don’t worry about it. I have worked it out 😎

    when it was rebooting I hit f12 and then usb and then F6 and found the boot menu and it’s now working.

  11. Thank you! I installed Ubuntu in a Dell Latitude X1 some years ago and it was a nightmare. With this option worked perfect 🙂

  12. I have this exact error when I attempt to install 14.04.
    How to I restart my pc from this error? Is there a key sequence?

  13. Thanks. 😎

  14. Bev… there are three pictures in my post. At some point in time, between you start your computer, and you get the error (first picture), your display should look like the second picture. That is when you hit F6 to interrupt the boot sequence and give the forcepae parameter. I have no idea what computer you have, so I can not tell you exactly how to get to the second picture where F6 is to be hit.

  15. Thank you for this clear and easy help guide! Worked for my IBM ThninkPad T41 for Kubuntu 14.10 (Feb 2015).

  16. Garth, glad to hear Kubuntu still has it supporters and that you found use for your Thinkpad. I used Kubuntu a while ago, but now it is mostly Xubuntu for me.

  17. Don’t forget to put a space before the “forcepae” after the —
    That’s what I was screwing up for awhile..

  18. It worked. Thanks

  19. lubuntu user

    It worked perfectly just as explained

  20. im having some issues installing lubuntu on my pentium m…. i have the installer menu but none of the options at the bottom of the screen show up. i have used unetbootin and pendrivelinux’s universal usb installer. Which installer/boot creator should i be using? which one did you use in the pics above?

  21. Xubuntu 14.04

    Xubuntu 14.04 on a Dell D600:
    It just goes directly to the screen with the error message. The Install menu never comes up. So I never get the option to hit F6.

  22. Xubuntu 14.04

    Retried with Lubuntu. This time I get the menu screen before the error message. Looks like this technique only works with Lubuntu. So, I don’t know how Martin (2014) got Xubuntu 14.04 working on his machine.

  23. Thanks for the info but you might want to check your link for “Ubuntu on Pentium M without PAE” as it now leads to a fake alert web site (virus-alert732nd.pw)!!

  24. Thank you Steve! Problem fixed. Fascinating that someone bothered to register my old site and put virus there.

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