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White_Raven

Really Old Laptop?

6 posts in this topic

Here’s the deal; A long time ago I was given a small, very old laptop, a Texas Instruments 4000 Travel Mate 498 WinSX to be exact, and for the longest time it just sat there since I didn’t have the ability to get it working, it booted up to a "BAD SMBK!" error and stalled; Now that I am going through all the old hardware I have (Found 2 empty cases today I can get rid of) Im wondering if this has a use.

After going over the settings with my bro (I suck at hardware, my education in it came from a time we still needed controller cards for ide0,1... I know this and admit it freely), we got it to boot and installed DOS 6.22 on it since a tomslbrd disk would not boot on it, I wanted to put linux on it since its a i486 but for some reason it would not take it, it just sat there after it said it was uncompressing the kernal, spit out 3 lowercase ‘a’ chars and did nothing.

After loading dos6.22 on it We then started to install zipslack via floppy (waiting for a floppy to stop making noise after ticking once is so boring) on it but got a errors about a full HD after the 14'th disk.. Seems the HD is only a little less then 80 megs.

After the we got the error we shut it down to reboot and delete the files; On boot it gave us a "Missing operating System" Error and it was then decided to put it back on the shelf until I wanted to mess with it again.. Now I’m asking you what you would do with it.

It has a floppy drive, no CD-ROM, no network card, no sound outside of the loud pitched internal speaker, and I have no idea how fast it is but I am told that the case says 486SX/16mhz, and I’m told the screen is monochrome black/white with reversible polarity via a switch on the side next to the brightness and contrast spinner dials.

The Bios is a phoenix bios version 1.01 and I cant really use it due to it being so limited, Without sound its basically a good way to get my brother to spend time visiting me and that’s it.

So I’m asking you what you would do to get it working, and what you would use it for, to get ideas and expand my mind a bit.

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auction it on Ebay under antiques?? lol ... Just kidding, I thought Linux needed 8megs of ram, does it even have that?

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my hardware chops really aren't much to write home about either. anything pre PnP is not my friend. If I were you, I would look for like slackware 1.0 X is right out of the question for that box anyway. You may see what hardware is in it and see what you can upgrade it to. That will give you the best chance at a box you can do SOMETHING with.

I know you have a text to speach device as opposed to a monitor, and in this case it sounds like a good thing. In all honesty man, I would put dos 6.22 back on that beast and use it either to play old text based games and / or use it for a travel word processor.

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The linux kernel easily has support for booting into 4 MB RAM. The problem with this, however, is that most kernel's installs will boot the KERNEL into 4 MB RAM But NOT the root disk.

Also, the SX didn't have a math coprocessor built in...I know the Linux kernel has a config option to emulate this, but I'm not sure if most distros stock kernels have this and, if not, it will work without it.

Here are your options, basically:

Try installing a version of Slackware older than about 4.0. Anything later than this probably won't work (Look at slackware 9.1, for example. They have a 4 MB RAM Boot Disk - but, again, the root disk won't fit). I also say slackware because all the other popular distros are newer...none of there versions are likely to fit in that little.

Or, on the otherhand, you could try a very personalized distro. You can get a minimalistic boot disk for Linux that allows you to partition, mkswap, etc....Set up the environment then build stuff on another computer for it and copy it over.

Another thing you might be interested in is a distro I discovered recently, a distro called muLinux (http://mulinux.sunsite.dk/) which could easily fit in that much space. One downside, however, is that it is not a native linux distro; it installs on a DOS partition, an you have to switch over to it from DOS. There are docs, however, on migrating from the DOS partition to a normal Linux setup.

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I found out more about the specs and it has only 4 megs of ram in it, and the cpu is just that, 16mhz, and its NOT upgradeable in any way.

It has a fpu installed, at least thats that our test software says, and it its biggest limit is the hd space and lack of sound; Allot of small distros would be great for this except thel are all bloated with networking and sound stuff this doesnt need or support.. If I can get it working then I can sell it to my brother who has taken a interest in it.

Installing dos 6.22 is what my bro is doing right now, we had a plan to just make it a dos box and add the gnu dos compiler onto it and just make it a dev box, note taker, and POS unit sicne he found a piont of sale app that will run under dos for free, and either way looks like we will need it for linux anyway.

Thanks.

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white_raven, if you decide to sell it, let me know.

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