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  1. #1

    Damn Small Linux on IBM Thinkpad 701c

    Has anyone here had experience installing DSL on an IBM Thinkpad 701c?

    I've got it installed, got GRUB to work properly, and everything seems ok, except that I can't get any video settings to work, and as a result my screen is just black. I am certain that DSL is running in the background, as a Ctl+Alt+Del causes the processor and hard drive to run, then I hear a few beeps, and hitting the enter key causes the computer to power off. (I can see all of this if I run DSL in text mode and exit.)

    I've tried VGA in framebuffer mode, but I get an error that "fb0" can't be found. I've tried VGA VESA, and I don't get errors, but only blackness, regardless of whether I choose what I believe are the hardware specs for the monitor (640x480, 16bit color) or choose other options:
    640x480 4bit color
    do nothing (the default is 1024x768 32bit color)

    When prompted, I've tried either entering 72dpi (not sure if this is correct or not) or not entering anything (letting DSL deal with it).

    So is there something I am missing? I suppose I could continue and try every possible permutation, but I believe I have attempted all of the ones that *should* work. However, I am sure I am missing something...

    Any help would be appreciated.

    (Note: I registered at the DSL forums, but for some reason I do not have permission to post a new thread or reply to existing threads. Odd.)

  2. #2
    Well if the 701c is anything like my compaq elite 75c it has 486-75mhz and something like24 meg ram...I may be way off base..

    .I do not know what causes the problem but if it feels better I had the same issue and the low spec was blamed by me...

    but I did get x to load on a dx2-66 with 32 meg ram and swapfile...but the system did not remain stable after adding several extensions...I finally loaded on a p166 with 48 meg ram and a swap file with grteat success and still run it...but added 128 meg ram and it is very pleasing...

    I just attempted to reinstall on the dx2 with different cards and have the same issue of getting to where x loads and black screen..if I solve I will post back.

    sorry to waste your time but sometimes misery is of luck

    maby someone has the answer for both of us.


  3. #3
    Hi Bucky,

    I did some more reading and came up with this thread:

    which points to a XFree86 as the problem. Apparently XFree86 4.x doesn't support older graphics chipsets (like on the 701c), but version 3.x does.

    I have no idea if any of the applications that install with DSL require XFree86 4.x instead of 3.x, but I might try and uninstall the newer verion and then install the older version and see how it goes.

    The aforementioned thread also discusses how slow a modern linux install would be vs Windows 95 (the horrors!) or NetBSD. I may try installing the latter instead of fiddling with DSL at this point.

    I'd really like to get a reasonably new flavor on linux on this machine for two reasons: 1) I am tired of Windows, and 2) I imagine if I connected to the internet with Windows 95 my system would be infected in less than one second. (I suppose I could search for a Win95 firewall...) However, finding a minimal linux install that not only supports this old hardware, but also can be either installed from floppies or cd-rom files copied to the hard disk is difficult. (The external cd-rom requires pcmcia support, which I can load up in DOS and then copy files to the hard disk; however I cannot boot from the cd-rom.)

    Maybe I'll get further along in this endeavor. Good luck to you, and thanks for your reply.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Thanks for the additional info...I suspected something like...gui linux on old machines can offer some frustration not only due to the hardware but that few are interested and often suggest a newer machine..I often have to point out that I have them all but am working on this one at the moment...SO..haha

    mulinux has a floppy set that may be usefull...I did download the iso version but did not reach x due to hardware conflict

    deli is also a possible but again may not work on the unit

    basiclinux3 is two floppys that may give you x right up but you need to modify to get opera and sylpheed...much depends on need.

    I am with you on the window thing...but win95 as a basic online box can work well and is easy to install...again need is 95 unit has just win and browsers... easy to reinstall...avoid ie, java and flash..but binderdundat

    if you are a real minimalist a one floppy wolf will get you fetchmail and links I think...

    also slackware in older versions may be worth a look...basic linux uses slackware 4 pkg's
    newer mini slax is small but not the best for lowend...

    I feel that dsl is the best as it will at least give good command line if you do not have the resourse for gui..and offers a good basic setup and fair variety of extension if you get the hardware thing cleared up.

    puppy is a nice scratch but likes the pentiums with 256 meg ram

    feather is also nice but pent and 128 are likely best, specs are less like dsl


    thanks again and best of luck.

  6. #5

  7. #6
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    old software

    you guys sound like me ... i'm over 50 owned one of the first trs80 mod 2 systems in town with DOS //// imagine that DOS 1978 is the date on the monitor rear panel!!!! I think it ran a 8080 cpu chip???

    BUT i got all the old software from trs80 model 1 basic to trsdos 6.1
    had a 300 baud cradle cup reciever for the phone line the model2 did ( modem was over $100.00) ($300.00 fer the 5.25 disk drive) NO hard disk.
    everything ran from ram

    about 1985 lost my job spent $600.00 on a box of parts to make a tubro xt class white box machine ... was a 286 was some ibmdos, clone they called them machines!!!

    I ran a text based browser on line before it was the internet until 1995, told dad who needs windows 3.0 or what ever it was.

    around 1995 upgraded to a new box, a 486 with win95.

    had to have a pentum machine when they were new got win98
    ran 98 til 2005 even on a 2.0gig 256 ram box

    never had a name brand machine. trs80 days you had to write your own programs. Ha i know some BASIC.

    broke down in 2006 now run xp and started messing with linux and bsd
    i got a room corner full of books wife thinks $1000.00 worth.
    she gives me the devil ever time i head to the book store!!!

    comp usa is closing its store here sold vista basic in FEB/MARCH 20% off
    now running it on a new duocore intel machine ( MAN IT FLYS FAST! )
    going to dual boot it on linux soon. 250 mb hard disk WOW

    NOTE: VISTA is great. ITS lixux with WINDOWS name (protected mode)

    hope you all like my story ///// I still got all that software.
    the trs80 still boots up /// i got running 5.25 disk drives /// tape and zip/jazz name it, got to have one to play with. see how it works!!!

    its a room full of carp'ola should go to a museums

  8. #7
    haha....ya now that 260 meg hard drive I thought I would never use up is a linux swap file...the old gear stood the test of time...the thing that I hooked to the tv and had the dual 51/4's is lost to time..never got junk mail on that. .. happy computering

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