Saturday, February 7, 2009

Linux for Old Hardware

I have an old Thinkpad 600E, which is like a grand daddy to my Thinkpad T60. It's get a Pentium II 366MHz with 64MB RAM, an 8GB hard disk, a 56kbps modem, an IrDA port, a serial port, a parallel port, firewire, 1 USB port, and a DVD drive. I decided to bring it back to life for checking my email as it's small, portable, and a lot like a netbook.

I decided to install some flavor of Linux on it, so I started off with Knoppix. Knoppix booted up from the LiveCD, but after installing it to the hard disk, it simply refused to boot up with all kinds of errors... first, there was a problem with DMA so I disabled the DMA and started it up again but it simply crashed at some other point in the startup process.

I then tried Turbo Linux 10 Desktop OEM, which installed and booted up the computer. That was cool! An ancient beast running Linux to keep up with the new boyz. Since it doesn't have an ethernet adapter to connect to the wired LAN, I decided to get something to hook it up.

I got a Siemens USB wireless adapter, which I regret because the only way to get it running on Linux is to use ndiswrapper. Using ndiswrapper isn't the actual problem, but the one I got with Knoppix on the LiveCD was probably too old to run the drivers while Turbo Linux simply doesn't include ndiswrapper. I tried installing ndiswrapper, but the kernel sources folder was missing a ".config" file, and I didn't find a copy in /boot/config as a forum-post suggested.

I finally decided to go with something more recent so I got a copy of Sidux Linux, but that wouldn't even boot from the LiveCD.

Anyway, I guess I'll have to just hope I can find a PCMCIA ethernet card supported by Linux (more specifically, by Turbo Linux 10, the only distro that would successfully boot).

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