Worth looking at?

Forum: Laptops
Topic: Worth looking at?
started by: SRed13

Posted by SRed13 on Dec. 06 2007,05:03
So, this is a lot of fun.  I have an old Compaq Armada laying around, it is built like a tank and really kind of cool...but it runs windows 3.1 or something ancient.  It features:

no modern ports (no usb, firewire, ethernet, etc)
an infrared port  (wow, why was this a good idea?)
a 7 gig hd
a p2 something-or-other processor
and two pcmia slots

I got a pcmia wifi card I'd like to use on it in conjunction with DSL, but I have no way of getting the OS onto the hard drive.  I have a pcmia ethernet card, but it doesn't have built-in TCPIP support (IT IS OLD).  

It does have a serial and a parallel port.  Now, do you know of anyway I could network boot from a serial port?  If I can get DSL on there I can get all the drivers needed to run it in DSL through the PCMIA ethernet card, and from there get the wifi card working.  I've tried everything, from taking the HD out and putting it in another pc (DSL wouldn't read it as a USB or ide device for some reason, even though it will still boot windows if I put it back in)

So, bottom line is that I know its possible to ethernet install linux distros, what about parallel or serial port?  Any help or advice beyond "buy a new laptop" would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


Posted by Juanito on Dec. 06 2007,05:09
You could transfer dsl to the hd via a serial or parallel "laplink"/"null modem" cable or via the infra red port or via a pcmcia memory card.

Does the machine have a floppy drive you could boot from?

Posted by danielp on Dec. 06 2007,08:42
Would it be possible to install DSL to the HD by taking it out, installing DSL through another laptop, and then putting the HD back into this one?
Posted by curaga on Dec. 06 2007,08:56
What kind of HD adapter did you use? Or was it in another laptop?

I'm thinking it's the master/slave config. When I previously had a laptop hd that didn't get recognized, it was because it defaulted to slave and the another laptop wanted a master. The usb-to-ide-2.5" adapters also want master, so I guess your drive is slave by default too..

Posted by Juanito on Dec. 06 2007,09:49
Yes - as long as it is the only hd in both cases then it will have the same drive letter (hda1 or whatever) in the two machines. If there is more than one hd (or partition for that matter, I guess) then there could be an issue of grub/lilo looking for the wrong drive designation.

And, yes, I got distracted whist making this post and Curaga jumped in first.

Posted by danielp on Dec. 06 2007,11:25
I was thinking simple: take out the HD, put it into another laptop (it being the only HD in there), install DSL with the other laptop (which has a CD drive), then take the HD back to the original laptop.

In fact, I will have to try that myself one of these days, as I got an old laptop with a broken CD drive.

Posted by SRed13 on Dec. 08 2007,17:36
I have both an ide hard drive adapter and a USB ide adapter.  Now, interesting, once in ubuntu or dsl, the drive shows up via the usb adapter, however, dsl won't let me install to a drive not plugged in via ide cable.  Perhaps I can mount the USB volume as dev/hda0?   Would such a thing work?  

I'm looking for a serial to serial cable, apparently in the 1900's these were plentiful.

Posted by curaga on Dec. 09 2007,12:27
Check here:
< http://www.amazon.com/Null-Modem-Cable-Db9f-Connections/dp/B000067SCH >

Posted by john.martzouco on Dec. 09 2007,12:45
A 9-pin null modem cable is very easy to make if you have any skill with a soldering iron.  Use low heat, the plastic base around the pins melts easily:

You can pull the 9-pin connectors out of old machines if they're handy.

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