TinyCore 3.0 Alpha on an Ancient ThinkPad

I deleted an earlier post related to my first look at TinyCore 3.0 alpha because I hadn’t had much time to do more than boot it. I still regret I haven’t had much time to set it up and do more with it, but I did more this afternoon than I had in the week or so previously. And I did it on my oldest remaining computer.

I decided to see how well TinyCore 3.0, which is still currently in public alpha testing, would do on my ancient ThinkPad. The worst issue I had was setting it up to boot. I wanted to put TinyCore onto a partition via USB, as that would be better than burning a CD and faster than setting up my network so I could PXE boot it (which I would consider if I had more reason to do so). I presently have SL54 installed on it, so I put tinycore.gz and the TinyCore bzImage in /boot and edited the GRUB menu.lst to boot TinyCore. TinyCore works well like this and can live inside another distro (I’d call it the “parasitic” method for using TC/MC but there has to be a better, more positive way to put it).

TinyCore boots up with a shiny new logo on a medium gray background.

I think it looks nice on other colors, too, but they need to be lighter hues. Like white:

Or even yellowish orange (#ffa500):

I’ll fix the logo soon so it can be used on any background.

I also had to set up X to accomodate the 800×600 resolution because I didn’t set a cheatcode at boot (doh!). I set the desktop color on red for the hell of it.

As this ThinkPad lacks a wired ethernet port and I have no wired ethernet near anywhere I’d use it, I had to manually download the appropriate extensions — in my case, b43-fwcutter.tcz, openssl-0.9.8.tcz, wireless_tools.tcz, wireless-2.6.33.3-tinycore.tcz, and wpa_supplicant.tcz (I also downloaded the zd1211 firmware extension just in case the Broadcom 43xx-based PCMCIA card gave me any crap and I needed to resort to my USB adapter) — to get connected. I then found the proprietary firmware required for the card and copied it to /lib/firmware. I had a copy of my wpa_supplicant.conf already on the USB stick which had my extensions, so I copied it over and set up wpa_supplicant and started udhcpc. I was connected.

I then installed a few quick extensions to test audio. I made my quick wrapper to use mocp for pls streams from shoutcast.com and soon had streaming audio.

As you can see, this is a really old laptop — 500mhz and not very much RAM. It was great under Damn Small Linux back in the day. It still works so it gets re-purposed from time to time. I think I’m most likely going to set it up in my stereo cabinet and use it to stream audio through the stereo and to keep the thing out of earshot because its hard drive is clunky and the fan is really loud. Fortunately, it doesn’t run hot (unless compiling) so I’m not worried about it overheating in there.

I also installed sshfs so I could mount my server locally on the old laptop. I used elinks to open a file locally rather than through the http server (I was basically using elinks as a file browser).

RAM use was pretty high because I installed Opera, elinks, audio drivers, mocp, etc. I don’t think I’d do that again. Especially Opera.

In fact, X is overkill on this. If I set this up as a streaming audio client for the stereo, I’ll likely use MicroCore instead. That’s an article for another day…

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