Three weeks with the Pentium

It’s been about three weeks since I brought home the Pentium laptop, and I have a few more notes about the hardware and performance.

It’s still running a terrfically slimmed-down version of Crux 2.4, but I’ve made a little progress in the audio department. Once I found a data page that mentioned compatibility with the SoundBlaster Pro card, I could whittle down the list of necessary drivers to get started.

Unfortunately, working with ISA hardware is completely alien to me; I am too comfortable allowing plug-and-play technology to take over. I understand there is an isapnptools package out there, and it may (or may not) be useful. I rarely set these things up on my own though, so I might have to make a couple of detours into other distros to get it working.

Which is the real impediment to the entire process. Building a working system isn’t that big a deal, but swapping the drive out every time I need to make a hardware configuration change … that’s time consuming. And mentally wearisome. So I put it off, and put it off. …

But otherwise, the hardware seems to be in great shape. The internal clock is keeping good time, and so long as I don’t overstress the machine I find that I can synchronize the clock with ntpdate once every few days, and lose only a few seconds off the correct time. Much better than the other machine was doing.

I find the touchpad to be a little unusual. I don’t use it very often because Musca and all the applications I use are keyboard driven, but when I do it kind of throws me off.

It seems to exhibit some sort of absolute pointing behavior — I don’t know what else to call that. If I press the touchpad, the pointer moves to the position on the screen that corresponds to that position on the touchpad. If I try to “stroke” the arrow further into a corner without moving my finger into that corner, it jumps back toward the center and repeats the same action.

It’s difficult to explain, so I’ll stop. It’s working great and I have no complaints, but the few times I move the mouse always alarm me. No harm done, but I think I’ll stick with an external mouse. ;) (Hmm. Perhaps there’s a setting in xorg.conf that will control that. … Hmm. …)

Aside from that, I could only wish for proper framebuffer support. Xorg 7.3 is okay, but if I could actually get 800×600 in the framebuffer, it would be a dream come true. …

In fact, I may be a glutton for punishment, but just about the only thing I dislike about this machine is that it is terrifically heavy — relatively speaking, of course. Both the Inspiron and the Thinkpad are probably heavier than this one, but the footprint of the Pentium is easily a full 3 cm less in each direction than the Inspiron, for example, and the difference in weight doesn’t seem to be much. I’ll have to check the actual mass of all the laptops; perhaps my internal scale is wacky. But it seems like a rock.

I still want to find a working 32Mb stick of PC66 and see how fast it will fly without relying on swap space. I see none in my immediate area, but I am a patient person. If those are still out there, I’ll find one.

Altogether this is working out extremely well. I use this reguarly, on a daily basis for everything from blogging to e-mailing to chatting to keeping my daily calendar for work and home, and there’s no sign of it quitting or becoming overwhelmed.

And so long as the hardware holds out, I intend to keep using it. :D

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4 thoughts on “Three weeks with the Pentium

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      :D Newer versions of Xorg fail spectacularly on this machine — X says it can’t find the hardware, even though the driver configures itself quite easily. Xorg 7.3 off the 2.4 ISO works fine though, even though updating it tends to cause nervous breakdowns … if computers can have nervous breakdowns. :mrgreen:

      Reply
  1. Costin Stroie

    Are you sure you need SDRAM memory? As far as I know, the Pentium I generation uses EDO RAM, which is even harder to find and quite expensive now.

    Reply

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