Linux on laptop, but no floppy drive
A friend of mine and I were in Birmingham, Alabama at a swap meet and purchased three Thinkpad 701C laptops (the "butterfly" model with the fold-out keyboard) for $5 apiece. The catch is, none of them have hard drives or internal floppies, but they do boot (we had to jury-rig a power supply for them). We want to make them into Linux boxes. For that we'd either need HDDs (12.7mm, 2.5") already loaded with Linux, or external floppy drives to boot from, right? The problem is that the official IBM FDD, which connects thru what looks like a miniature parallel port, is difficult to come by (cheap). A cheaper, easier option would be to buy PCMCIA floppy drives for the laptops-- but would the computer allow us to boot from one of those, without having an OS loaded already? Is there a version of Linux we could put on a PCMCIA memory card and boot that?
We've checked dozens of sites looking for spare parts and information on the computers, but it seems to us that we need the original IBM FDD to do anything. The 701C was designed to be as small as possible so it has no real ports (it's supposed to use a dock station), but it does have on-board audio support, a built-in 14.4k modem, and IrDA. We're very excited about the possibility of running Linux on them.