The T2450CT

June 6th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

So I picked up a my first laptop at a garage sale recently and am now the proud owner of a Toshiba Satelite T2450CT. This puppy boasts some seriously awesome specs:

Processor: 486 DX/4
Memory: 16MB
Harddrive: 500MB
Screen: 640×480 Active Matrix Display
CD-Drive: None
Network Card: None
Sound Card: None
USB: None
SCSI: Surprisingly, yes!

So over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly preparing to push some lightweight linux distribution onto it.

Problem #1:
How do I get anything larger than 1.44mb onto the harddrive? It doesn’t have a cd-drive, nor any usb ports. It also doesn’t have a network card. It does, however, have 2 PCMCIA slots. So my first plan of action was to get it a network card so I could at least copy files onto it over a network.

Problem #1.1:
PCMCIA is an evolving standard. Sadly, back in 1994 when the T2450CT was being designed, PCMCIA was still in the 16bit era (also known as PC CARD). At some point PCMCIA was upgraded to 32bit (also known as Cardbus) and it hasn’t looked back since. This means though, that pretty much everything in stock at any computer store at the moment is 32bit PCMCIA and incompatible with the little T2450CT. Fortunately, Ebay is a wonderful resource for out of date computer hardware. So, after $20 (CDN), and 5-6 days of shipping, I now own a Linksys WPC11 PCMCIA 11Mbps 802.11b ‘PC Card’.

Problem #2:
Apparently when the previous owner had tried to sell the T2450CT earlier, potential buyers were turned away by the fact that he had installed some form of Linux on it. So to appease the market, the previous owner managed to cram Win98SE on this little 486 (I really have no idea how). Sadly, I have no desire to run Win98SE on this 16MB.

So anyways, after a brief search I’ve settled on trying to get Damn Small Linux (a 50mb distribution) up and running on the machine using the “Alternative Poorman’s Install.” I chose DSL because a) I’ve had experience with the Xbox port of DSL (X-DSL) and b) because it seems to have a fairly active userbase with the odd person working on similar hardware to the T2450CT.

What I’ve learned, so far, about running DSL on the T2450CT:

  • At the boot menu use the “lowram” cheat code, and specify your memory size like so: Boot: lowram mem=16M
  • The memory specification seems to work with all the different cheat codes, so after I realized “lowram” was hanging while launching X, I was able to get through a full boot by using: Boot: dsl 2 mem=16M which tells DSL to launch in console only mode.

Current Status: No gui, no networking, but working command prompt.

I’m going to try and keep posting progress reports under the T2450CT category so that others trying similar stuff with a T2450CT can use this as a resource, but I’m usually not very good at following through, so who knows.