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Old 12-04-2011, 12:46 AM   #1
linuxlicious
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Theoretical question: Install linux via serial port?


The reason why I'm asking is that I have an old compaq sattelite pro laptop that my then bro in-law gave me years ago and instead of throwing it out I'd like to put it to good use as a dum mp3 server and online radio/cd player. The problem is, that it can't boot from CD and the floppy drive is broken and on top of that usb was unheard of when this laptop was made and to make things worse the os (win95) is corrupted and infested with viruses. so I was hoping that there might be a slight chance to install a small linux distro via serial port. Is that possible at all and what are the requirements? Or should I try to get n old used floppy drive for it and use a bootdisk?
 
Old 12-04-2011, 12:49 AM   #2
corp769
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Wow.... good luck with that one

I really need to ask though.... What is the exact model of the laptop? If you are correct about not having any USB ports, I really don't think it would be fast enough the way it is to support what you want to do.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 01:17 AM   #3
Dark_Helmet
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I can't help with the install-via-serial-port issue. Sorry.

However, I would like to offer an alternative. Depending on the laptop's age, you might be able to:
1. remove the hard drive
2. place it in an external enclosure
3. take it to another computer
4. install linux through that other computer
5. return the drive to the laptop
That process never works with Windows, but Linux is a little more forgiving when it comes to large-scale hardware swaps.

A couple things to be concerned with:
1. That hard drive is probably good ol' IDE. You might have to look a while for an enclosure that's IDE rather than SATA.
2. You'll need to be careful about the distribution you pick. I don't know if the drivers you would need are included by default in modern kernels. Maybe someone else could give a suggestion, but I would guess something like Vector Linux, Damn Small Linux, etc.
3. The horsepower might be a concern like corp769 mentioned. So a minimal, console-only distro is the way to go.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 05:54 AM   #4
linuxlicious
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Whoops did I really call it a Compaq? It's a Toshiba well the complete model name is toshiba sattelite pro 410CDT/810, and that's what I googled up about it:

It is an extremely old laptop manufactured by Toshiba around 1995. According to Toshiba, its specifications are:

A 90 MHz Intel Pentium
An 810 MB hard drive
A 4x CD-ROM drive
8 MB of EDO DRAM as standard (40 MB maximum)
An 11.3" LCD with a maximum resolution of 1024x768 with 256 colors
Two PC Card slots

I don't remember how much ram it actually has, but if I know my bro inlaw, he would have put the full 48 in it, so it should be good enough to run something like slitaz, tinycore or even a simple install of arch, which would run some lightweight mediaplayer on X without a windowmanager. Hmm.. how about tinycore, mediaplayer, skype and some lightweight browser? Doable yes/no?
 
Old 12-04-2011, 06:38 AM   #5
corp769
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Doable? Yes. Feasible? Hell no! LOL..... Dude, 90 MHz CPU? All joking aside, I really don't think that "thing" has enough power to do what you really want it to do. Running it without a GUI would be your best bet to play music, that's about it. Running a GUI would take up too many resources to even run a media player. Of course, I'm not saying not to do it. I'm just saying what your best bet might be. Maybe install tinycore, and run mpg321 to play your mp3's.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 07:05 AM   #6
Wayne Sallee
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Does it have an ethernet connection?

You probably won't get much use out of it, but it would be fun to try.

I agree with Dark_Helmet, that your best bet is to hook the hard drive up to another computer and do the install.

You will need a very stripped down version of linux with an old kernel.

Wayne Sallee
Wayne@WayneSallee.com
 
Old 12-04-2011, 07:20 AM   #7
linuxlicious
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well.. basically all I want it to do is act as a music station that plays cd's, mp3 files and radio streams and present a simple gui (mediaplayer). That's all. I agree that it would be difficult run a decent window manager, but eh it has win95 on it, which was known to be a bloat and I was still able to stream video clips and surf the web and even play something like doom, which brings me to another idea - how does turning it into a mame station sound like to you?

PS: yes, it does have eth0

Another thing I'd like to know - is it possible to run multiple programs on different displays without a window manager? I tried for example xinit firefox -- :4 && xinit skype -- :5, but all I get is firefox - does it all have to put in a xinitrc file? My goal is to have a simple linux install without a WM (not necessarily on this machine), but runs something like firefox, mplayer or vlc, skype and mame on different displays on startup. Any advice/suggestions?

Last edited by linuxlicious; 12-04-2011 at 10:39 AM.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 11:42 AM   #8
Dark_Helmet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linuxlicious
It is an extremely old laptop manufactured by Toshiba around 1995.
Quote:
Originally Posted by linuxlicious
I agree that it would be difficult run a decent window manager, but eh it has win95 on it...
Keep in mind that, even though it has Win95, it was manufactured 'around' 1995, and it likely has the initial release of Win95. That is to say, no service packs/patches. The laptop was probably right around the base specs targeted for the first post-Windows 3.11 OS.

Could you put a GUI on? yes. Your problem will be finding a distribution to install that was originally released around 2000 or earlier. I don't think you could install a modern, pre-packaged distribution because my gut feeling is all the non-GUI stuff installed would tax the laptop's resources as-is--not to mention disk space. You could try to custom-make a distro (e.g. Linux From Scratch), but you'll be doing a LOT of waiting on compiles and you would need to strip debugging symbols from executable as-you-go and pick XFCE or something similar for a window manager and/or basic desktop.

Assuming you do get an older version of X running, you'll also have to look for older versions of the apps you want to run. Modern versions of the apps will very likely have dependencies on modern support libraries. And of course, those modern support libraries might conflict with the older libraries you need to run an older version of X.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, you'll need to get familiar with poking around CVS repositories to get date-based releases of software. And that might lead you into the worst kind of dependency hell.

Assuming you could get the GUI environment and a suitable version of MAME to run, it might handle it. Then again, you're running a 'virtual machine' inside a resource-light setup. It's performance would probably rest entirely in how efficient the MAME emulator was written.

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by linuxlicious
I tried for example xinit firefox -- :4 && xinit skype -- :5
I don't have any experience running multiple X sessions, but there is a problem with your command. If I'm not mistaken, using '&&' will cause your second command (the skype portion) to wait until your first command completes (the firefox portion). And then, skype will only execute if firefox exited 'cleanly.'

Again, I don't have any experience with multiple X sessions. Maybe xinit forks itself to handle the command and the original copy is supposed to exit--which would allow your skype command to launch almost simultaneously.

Just throwing that out there because nobody else has said anything.

Last edited by Dark_Helmet; 12-04-2011 at 03:22 PM.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 03:47 PM   #9
jefro
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It can be done but will take a bit.

Might be able to use loadlin or such to go from dos to an older linux kernel. http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/wiki/i...oadlin_Install

Might be able to use zipslack on a umfdos (I can't remember the exact filesystem type) to then do other things.

Some of the older stuff has pxe so that may work.
 
Old 12-04-2011, 03:49 PM   #10
corp769
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I think you should see what happens and how far you get trying to load a 3.0.1 kernel on it
 
Old 12-05-2011, 06:46 PM   #11
jefro
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I'd think 3.x would be way more difficult than some older distro and maybe impossible.

8 meg ram. wow. I remember running bsd on an old 486 and it was dog slow.

Last edited by jefro; 12-05-2011 at 06:48 PM.
 
  


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