First non-Mac in 20 years - suggestions on OS?

15 replies [Last post]
tmtomh's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568

Just got ahold of an old IBM Thinkpad 701c - the "butterfly keyboard" model. It's a really cool little machine, and it seems to work very nicely...

... except that it's got Windows 95 on it, which is rather bloated and slow on this 75MHz 486-based machine with 16MB RAM.

Any suggestions for what OS to replace it with?

I was thinking Linux, but I'm concerned that using a GUI with it will produce a system just as slow, if not slower, than the current Win95 installation.

I'm also wondering about DR-DOS with some sort of GEM variant overtop of if, but the 16-bit, single-tasking limits of GEM have me concerned there.

Finally, I'm wondering about OS/2 Warp (which apparently is what originally shipped with this machine, in a dual-boot setup with Win 3.11).

Any thoughts? As I say I have almost no experience with x86 machines (except for a Performa 640CD/DOS that had a 486 card in it).

Best,
Matt

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
FunnymanSE30's picture
Offline
Joined: Aug 22 2005
Posts: 403
puppy linux might run okay on

puppy linux might run okay on that, and maybe Damn Small Linux would maybe run a little faster that the win95

__________________

iMac Summer 2001: 700mhz, 256mb RAM, 80 Gb, OS 10.4 [main desktop computer]
Powerbook Pismo 400mhz G3 running 10.4, 30gb HD, 640mb of ram[Main Laptop Computer]

Jon's picture
Jon
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
If it will boot. That 16MB R

If it will boot. That 16MB RAM is a huge limitation. I was having a hard time getting much of anything going on a P100 laptop with 40MB RAM. You might stick wiht somethig very basic like twm. A WM with just enough power to do work, but no eye candy to steal RAM and CPU power.

I have put FreeBSD on a 486 DX2-66 before. 8MB RAm was the max it took. It even tried KDE, becaus I didn't pay much attention during the istall. Not fun. You can trim a BSD down pretty quick, but I have little experience doing it with Linux. NetBSD can be setup pretty small. I've run older versions (1.4-1.5) on IIsi with 5MB RAM.

__________________

I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

tmtomh's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Thanks

Thanks for the tips, folks.

From a cursory view it looks like Damn Small Linux might be a nice OS to try first. I'll let folks know if it works ...

Best,
Matt

iantm's picture
Offline
Joined: Apr 2 2005
Posts: 709
OS/2

Give the wonder of OS/2 a shot. It never gained much traction with applications developed outside of IBM, but it was and is still in heavy use to this day. A good number of businesses still use OS/2 to this day. A good number of them have these machines connected to token ring networks. The beauty of OS/2, microchannel, and token ring - robust, secure networks that are so obscure that most l33t h4x0rs don't know what to do with. Why - because nobody has written scripts for these script kiddies, errrr, l33t h4x0rs to utilize. Be secure in knowing that somewhere, your banking informaton is kept safe through one of thse IBM technologies.

__________________

- iantm
ACPT & ACDT (long expired)
BMW Certified Technician

jman's picture
Offline
Joined: Nov 30 2005
Posts: 147
I have a tp760e

I am useing win 98 (down at the time) and beos the only issue with
beos is dirver my dispaly in not covere but check yours be is great for old and new computers

__________________

5500,pmG3,pbG3,pbG4,G5, Mac pro, and MacBook Pro forever
Enjoy the Intel age, but remember the time of the Power PC.
Eight Year Member of Applefrtter

Offline
Joined: Sep 16 2004
Posts: 274
If you do get os/2 on it, put

If you do get os/2 on it, put up some pics here, I havent really seen os/2 in use outside of ATM/bank machine sort of things.

Jon's picture
Jon
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
I concur. One of the places

I concur. One of the places ax0n and I find a lot of stuff used to run OS/2 on their ATMs. Now they've switched to a customized Win2k and specialized server software. Unfortunately I haven't got the proper hardware to test the software I have. Of course development versions might not work right... Wink

__________________

I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

Offline
Joined: Apr 22 2004
Posts: 379
OS/2 Warp

It may work OK with 16 MB - I recall v3 working quite well with that much RAM. 16MB with v4 may be stretching it a bit.

I have Warp v3 Connect with Windows 3.11 and a CD burn of Warp v4.

A long time ago I bought Warp v4 with the headphone for voice recognition. One day I left it on top of may car and forgot about it. I found them in pieces two weeks later on the curb. Sad

The last time I ran it was with Virtual PC - I think I still have the image file somewhere.

Vellos's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 19 2003
Posts: 58
A wicked little laptop to scr

A wicked little laptop to screw around with, and I've got my thoughts on it:

First off, if you wanted something remotely modern, you'd probably have to go with Windows 95. Really, any sort of Linux implementation with a GUI is going to be SLOW. I know from experience of trying to get a 120Mhz Pentium to run Fluxbox.

Personally, I'd recommend DOS with a GEM layer over it. Make sure you add extra utilities like a HLT passer to make the battery last longer, and to keep the thing from overheating. OpenGEM would be a very good idea on top of FreeDOS.

Linux might work, but a very stripped down, and no GUI.

__________________

http://vel.ath.cx:8080/

catmistake's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 1098
NetBSD

Generally speaking, on slower processers, NetBSD dusts Linux. I believe this one is fast enough for a gui... and you could customize it to look like Windows if you wanted, and probably make it run Windows apps if you wanted. Not to bash Linux, but NetBDS has excellent user support and excellent hardware support.

Offline
Joined: Nov 9 2004
Posts: 23
OS/2 Warp v3.0

I use it on my old Compaq Lte 5100 90MHZ 16MB ram its a bit slow but gets the job done, getting it on the net it confuseing so I just stopeed trying Now its a nice little word processor.

tmtomh's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Updates - Fun and Not So Fun

Thanks again for the input,everyone.

Fortunately I have the 75MHz version (as opposed to the 50MHz) - but it's still definitely a bit of a dog - about as fast as Win98 under VPC 5 on a G3 or G4.

I'm actually posting from the machine now.

From what folks are saying, it sounds like OS/2 is a good option - and fun! I've yet to get my hands on anything newer than version 1.1 as of yet, though, and I don't know about OS/2 support for the PCMCIA cards I have laying around (10bT, wireless, and SCSI for an old Panasonic portable CD-ROM drive).

But I imagine if I can find OS/2 v. 3 I should be good to go.

Ideally, of course, I'd love to get ahold of the 133MHz AMD board for this unit, a RAM upgrade, and OS/2 Warp 4 - that'd be a very nice setup.

(Would love to try BeOS/Intel with the Pentium-class AMD board, but apparently it's reported not to work. Sad )

Right now I'm stuck with Win95. I've managed to get the enet PC card and PCMCIA CD drive working, but the machine won't boot if any PCMCIA device is inserted prior to power-on. So PC cards have to be ejected prior to restart, or alternatively removed prior to a cold startup.

And the !@#$% wireless card is recognized by the OS but not by the config/connect utility installed with the third-party driver. Oh well.

Matt

tmtomh's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Okay, that's better - mostly

So after much searching - and unsuccessful attempts to get X Windows to work under Damn Small Linux - I've gone back to basics.

I'm working on restoring this machine to its original configuration: dual-boot of Windows 3 and OS/2.

I've got Windows installed. I chose Windows for Workgroups 3.11, which is the best of the Win3 versions and my personal favorite Windows variant. I've got the Calmira II graphical shell running on it, which gives it a Win95/98-style GUI (start menu, taskbar, explorer, etc.) without all the bloat and overhead. I've also got the 32bit Win extensions installed, a TCP/IP stack, and a driver for the PCMCIA SCSI CD-ROM drive that was in my junkbox.

The machine is about 800 times faster than the Win95sr1 setup that was on it when I received it. (Apparently it was used by a Nike Inc. employee named Tim - I resisted the urge to look at his work files before deleting them.)

The only problem is that the IBM PCMCIA ethernet card (also from my junkbox) won't work. It worked under Win95, and the machine still detects it, and it powers on and shows up on my home network's router. But the OS always reports that the card doesn't respond when it tries to load the diver during the DOS bootup process. For now, though, I'm content with the sneakernet methods of the floppy and the CD-ROM - and as for browsing the internet, it was fun under Win95 as a novelty, but it's no picnic with a 640x480 screen.

Eventually I'd like to find another ethernet PCMCIA card that might work better, but for now I'm trying to keep my costs down.

As for OS/2, I found a distribution of floppy images, but most of the images are 1.79MB, and apparently there's no way to write these nonstandard-size images to physical floppies using standard WinTel hardware. (And the installer disks have no option for installing from images or from HD or CD.) I've prepped the HD for dual-booting Win and OS/2, but for now that's as far as I've gotten - no actual OS/2 installation yet.

As with the PCMCIA card, I could easily snag OS/2 Warp off eBay for under $20, but for now I want to limit my costs. I got the Thinkpad itself for $30.50 shipped off eBay, and the CD-ROM and enet card were free.

I'll take a couple of pics of the machine running Calmira when I get a chance, and will provide updates if/when I can get ahold of an installable copy of OS/2.

Matt

Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2004
Posts: 142
Hope this helps

Hope this helps
http://www.computing.net/os2/wwwboard/forum/1137.html

Winimage (shareware) can write the non-standard images to 1.44mb disks if i remember correctly
I believe there is a version for Win3.11

mak

edit: Winimage 5 http://www.winimage.com/winima50.zip

tmtomh's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Thanks

Thanks, makillik, for the pointer.

I should've updated this earlier. I actually had Winimage. It will write nonstandard images, but not the ones for OS/2. Those are xdf images. I did find a copy of xdfcopy.exe, and used it under DOS to write all the OS/2 images. I then installed OS/2 Warp 3.0 - which proved a bit of a disappointment. I couldnt' get it to recognize my machine's PCMCIA slots; the GUI is ugly as hell IMHO; and it seems to run slower than Win for Workgroups 3.11.

Just today I said to heck with it, wiped the entire drive, and reinstalled PC-DOS 6.3 I enabled Card and Sockets support for the PCMCIA slots (my mistake in not enabling it previously became much clearer with a fresh, small CONFIG.SYS file to look at).

Now, in true Murphy's Law fashion, I've realized that for some reason I didn't have a backup copy of the DOS driver for my IBM Credit Cart II 10bT PCMCIA ethernet adapter. And, maddengly, I can't seem to find it online, even though I originally got it online just a few days ago! Arghhh!

At any rate, I'm going to stick with DOS for now and try some DOS Shells - IBM's DOS Shell (which looks remarkably like Windows 1.0); OpenGEM5 (which looks really cool); and Seal (an open source project that gives an almost Linux-desktop GUI to DOS).

Updates when I have something new to report.