Most of my hardware questions about my FMV-5100 have been answered, thanks to Slitaz. A quick hop, skip and jump from an installation, and I had a booting, self-configuring Linux system in place on my newest family member.
It might sound a little convenient, but it was the most direct solution for the problem. I needed to find out what the guts of the machine were, and my random stabs at kernel configurations were not doing the trick.
The loram flavor of Slitaz was the only one that would install and boot to a complete console system on only 16Mb of memory, and give me a trustworthy system profile. Here’s what the guts of a Pentium laptop look like, paraphrased by me.
Cirrus Logic CL 6729 PCMCIA: Which explains why my random attempts to use the Yenta module weren’t working. pd6729 module is what’s working with Slitaz. It always helps to know what hardware you’re using, before you start ripping parts out of your machine.
Chips and Technologies F65548 video: Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of this one; it was a first time for me too. A massive 1Mb of video memory, if I read the specifications correctly. Hoo-whee. Crysis, here I come. And believe it or not, there’s actually a “chips” driver in the xorg video series. How did I overlook that?
Intel 430MX chipset, etc.: Not as critical as the first two, but probably worth noting. I haven’t found anything in the kernel help pages that specifically mentions this set, but you never know. I keep my eyes open.
Asix AX88790 wired PCMCIA card: Right now I’d like to connect to the outside world with the Corega FEther II PCC-TXD card I picked up for a measly 500 yen in a secondhand store almost a year ago; Slitaz likes this module for the card and the Internet works fine with it.
Outside of that,
lspci can’t tell me much, and
dmesg is rather brief, when compared to some machines I’ve worked with. Either way, I’m rebuilding another Crux system (this time wisely avoiding compiling on the machine itself), with the aforementioned hardware properly cued, I hope.
I should mention that I did not get a working X with Slitaz, but I don’t hold that against it. I was after the console anyway, since I needed the hardware profile. But starting X left me at a nonworking screen, and I have a feeling that might be a driver issue. If I find myself installing Slitaz again, I might take a moment or two and try to figure out what is causing that.
A funny note, if you find yourself working with Slitaz on a very old machine: Slitaz’s installer puts everything into a single directory, but if you remember from earlier, this machine is using an oversized drive and the BIOS can’t deal with an oversized partition.
The solution is to prepartition the drive with a sliver set aside for boot, install Slitaz as normal to a second or larger partition, then use
cp -a to duplicate the contents of the /boot directory into the special partition. Adjust Grub slightly and your machine is happy once again.
I might mention that to the Slitaz crew since their distro probably has an inordante number of fans among antique hardware users. But then again, it’s only an issue if the drive is too big for the BIOS.
One last thing: It’s funny to think that a year ago, Slitaz would barely have crossed my mind as a solution — DSL is just the automatic chant whenever someone needs a recovery distro. But these days, there’s just no better tool that Slitaz for getting into a machine of any configuration, and making it work. I’m more than willing to add this little miracle distro to my list of favorites. Which means I have … four now? So many distros, so little time.