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Thursday·21·September·2006

Yet another old laptop //at 04:13 //by abe

from the old-hardware-rules dept.

My father got me a nice IBM ThinkPad from 1996 earlier this year, so the next old laptop he digged up was planned to become a christmas present for my brother. But my father didn’t manage to find out, how old nor how fast that laptop was. And when I found out that it was a Pentium I with 90 MHz, it was clear, that my brother wouldn’t have any use for it, so he got “only” the used 850 MHz AMD Duron midi tower and my parents declared that old Compaq LTE 5100 laptop as a christmas present for me. :-)

As my IBM ThinkPad bijou, this Compaq LTE 5100 is from 1996 and has a Pentium I processor. Both also have a 800×600 resolution, a double PCMCIA slot and a floppy drive, which can be replaced by a CD-ROM drive (if I had one). But that are all similarities. Technically the Compaq has 90 MHz instead of the ThinkPad’s 133 MHz, but therefore has 72 MB RAM in comparison to the 48 Megs the ThinkPad has. Also regarding disk space the Compaq outperforms the ThinkPad: 1.6 Gigs of disk space in comparison to the ThinkPad 1.0 GB hard disk. Another difference is the battery: While the ThinkPad can work over 2.5 hours without external power, the Compaq even didn’t manage to completely boot its currently installed Windows 98 (the ThinkPad had a Windows NT installed when I got it) when running on battery. (Will do that test again when I can confirm, that the battery was full before testing. :-) Yet another difference is the keyboard layout: The ThinkPad has an US layout while the Compaq has a Swiss-German layout. But the most obvious difference is the look: The black ThinkPad still looks like having a modern design while the Compaq looks very very outdated in its perfect computer beige and with its quite small display.

So retroperspectively, it was a good a idea to name the ThinkPad “bijou” (French for jewel, jewellery, gem, etc.; named after a very neat british two-door limousine built in the UK by Slough on a 2CV base during the ’50s). Because now I have the choice between a lot of not so nice looking (not to say ugly ;-) 2CV derivatives to name the Compaq after. My favourites currently are the Iranian “Baby Brousse”, the Greek “Namco Pony” and the German “Fiberfab Sherpa”, all canvas and flatbed style 2CV based buggies, similar to the original Citroën Méhari but with steel body instead of the Méhari’s controversial plastic body. And one of the not used names, I can use for further ugly Compaq laptops¹.

Another question yet to answer is the question of what operating system to install on it. Since the ThinkPad runs fine with Debian 3.0 Woody and I have a lot of other Debian boxes at home (running Woody, Sarge or Sid), I currently think about installing the very fresh NetBSD 3.0 (released on Christmas’ Eve 2005), FreeBSD 6.0 (released early November 2005), DragonFly BSD 1.4 (to be released in December :-) or DeLi Linux 0.7 pre (which was also released in early December 2005 and already uses X11R7). Another idea was to install grml 0.5, but since grml is a live CD distribution, it probably would be hard to install it over network. Same counts for ReactOS (version 0.2.9 was released shortly before Christmas 2005), which doesn’t seem to have a floppy disk plus network install. Since I always planed to upgrade my currently defective Toshiba T6400 i486 laptop ayca (maybe after getting an organ donor on eBay or so) to DeLi Linux 0.7 (and perhaps write a review about it for Linux Magazine or so) and I may get an Sun Ultra Enterprise 2 soon (on which NetBSD 3.0 would be the perfect OS since Linux’ performance still seems to suck on Sparc :-), I currently prefer the FreeBSD or DragonFly idea. If the Ultra doesn’t come, it probably will get NetBSD, since I haven’t a NetBSD box yet. (Haven’t a DragonFly box either, but a FreeBSD 4.x running somewhere. :-)

Well, I guess, I’ll take even more old laptops than last year to the Vintage Computer Festival Europe (VCFe) in Munich next May. And since the two 1996 laptops are now 10 years old, they’re even ontopic! Yeah! ;-)

¹: I have two other not yet working Compaq laptops, both from an elder generation than Pentium I. One I got on a Swiss flea market for a few euros and the other was the first laptop of my boss, which he else would have thrown away. Unfortunately both are without power adapter and neither the usual allround laptop power adapters from Conrad, etc. nor the one from the LTE 5100 fits. But since there is eBay, I expect to get such a power adapter once. :-)

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