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Old 12-28-2006, 10:38 AM   #1
indienick
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Doing a Netboot


I'm trying to set up this ancient laptop in my house to boot from a network. Let me re-emphasize "ancient"...386/66 processor, a whopping 32MB of RAM, 500 MB hard drive, PCMCIA slots, 3.5" floppy only, serial, PS/2, parallel, and some GIANT port which I have no idea what it's possible function is.

My dad wants me to get this set up for my mom as a little PC station where she can simply check her email. I suggested a full-size computer, but my dad insisted on something small, like this handy-dandy ancient laptop (*Price Is Right music playing in the background*).

What I would like to know is, is it even possible to netboot this laptop, and give it full X capabilities from the X client being hosted by my server (anything command-line is OUT of the question)?

I've already looked into PXELinux, but burning EPROMs sounds quite iffy to me. And not to mention, I wouldn't mind something that DIDN'T boot off of a floppy and run in RAMDISK.

Basically, what I would like, is for this ancient laptop to run off a minimalist netboot kernel to make use of my server's X client, through a (brace yourself) PCMCIA 802.11g NIC.

Is it possible?
 
Old 12-28-2006, 12:01 PM   #2
gizza23
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Although I've not attempted something like this a floppy boot sounds like it's your key to this problem. Unfortunately, i don't think that your old laptop can handle the wireless card. The processor might crap out trying to keep up with it. Hopefully that's not the case though
 
Old 12-28-2006, 12:33 PM   #3
indienick
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Thanks for the reply gizza23.

I'm going to try and see if I can get it to work, just to appease my dad, but I don't think it's going to work. My dad recently got taken in by the world of wireless networking (although he's a UNIX sysadmin for Bell Canada, he's managing servers that haven't been turned off in 20 years). Wireless is a big thing for him, but in wires I trust.

If I were to go out and by a really cheap, used laptop, what should the minimal processor clock speed be?
 
Old 12-28-2006, 01:03 PM   #4
corbintechboy
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Hmmm, I have done something like it before...Try this:

Install a bare linux on her machine (got to be able to do X)
on your machine run gdm and tell it to use xdmcp (i think from memory configure from starting gdm)
Goto mothers machine and do:
X -query 192.168.15.101 (thats mine use your network ip)
and shazam!!!!
You will have to make sure the network card works on the laptop (module)
it should work
I hope this what you were looking for!
 
Old 12-28-2006, 01:07 PM   #5
corbintechboy
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OOPS. You said anything command line is outta the question...I guess you could use a script to do what I suggested!
 
Old 12-28-2006, 01:17 PM   #6
gizza23
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In your original post you mentioned that you will use a wireless card but you didn't give the brand. So I just looked up a random PCMCIA 802.11g card from Netgear to check out the system requirements. Here's what I found:

"IntelŪ PentiumŪ III Class Notebook PC" (Netgear Card)

If we take this as the standard, I doubt that there are any wireless cards out there that can be handled by anything slower.

I wish you luck though. It would be interesting to see a system like that running.
 
Old 12-28-2006, 05:34 PM   #7
indienick
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Thanks for your replies.

I will try to get this thing working, and I'm sorry I didn't provide the WIFI card details, it's a Linksys of some sort (I'd look up the specifics, but I'm at work right now).

corbintechboy:
Thanks for the tip, I can do the setup from the CLI, but the actual use of it will have to be 100% X-based - by "no command line" I meant, I'm not going to set up Mutt for my mum (not to mention, I can't even figure out how to use Mutt).

Again, thanks for your replies, and I'll definitely post updates and results.
 
  


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