I have about three posts stacked up in a line, waiting for one in particular that needs published, and so here it is: I found another Pentium machine, and I have a feeling this one is a real keeper.
This is a Sharp Mebius MN-340-001, which the Sharp pages (still!) suggest dates back to February 1998.
For a Pentium MMX machine, this is rather satisfying all-around. CPU is clocked at 150Mhz, standard memory at 32Mb EDO and an 800×600 LCD. Floppy drive right up front, touchpad for those who cannot bear to abandon the mouse, and even a CDROM this time — which is a huge blessing after working with this machine for so long.
Even better, this actually has a single USB1.1 port at the back, and to be honest, that was the reason I snapped it up at the recycling shop.
But best of all — and this might be hard to believe — the battery holds a charge for almost two hours. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same things after I brought it home. But honest-to-goodness, I can charge the battery in about an hour, and it will discharge completely after about two hours disconnected. It’s mind-boggling.
I was a little worried because the video card is Trident-based, and machines from that generation with Trident hardware have given me difficulty in the past. Fortunately though, this one seems to be strong enough (2Mb VRAM … wow!) to handle the standard Linux tridentfb module without an issue.
The geek rundown is as follows:
- Pentium MMX processor clocked at 153.4Mhz, according to /proc/cpuinfo. It also says CPU family 5, model 4, stepping 3.
- Intel 430TX chipset. Kernel 2.6.34 uses the piix and ata_piix modules, if I remember right.
- 32Mb PC66. 32Mb is more than enough for my day-to-day use, and unless I want to run a live CD or something from memory, I can’t think of any situation that requires more than that. I have a spare 64Mb stick of PC100, but while the slot matched, it was to tall for the bay.
- 2Gb Hitachi MK2104MA hard drive. Slow, small and noisy. Like all hard drives from that era. It whines to no end, thereby annoying me to no end.
- Trident 9660 video card, if
lspciis to be believed.
- One USB1.1 port, rear. If it didn’t have this USB port, it would probably still be sitting on a shelf in the recycling shop. I know I can be finicky when it comes to computers, but anything in the Pentium generation that has a USB port on it is suddenly a must-have for me.
- Matsushita UJDA110 20X CDROM. Oh good grief, I forgot how slow 20X was. But it’s a working, error-free CD drive, which is a thousand times better than no CD drive at all. The BIOS allows it to boot from CD too, even if booting from USB is a no-no. And this time, PLoP doesn’t seem to help.
- ESS ES1869 sound card, I think. I usually leave sound to last for configuring, and take my time with it. A looong time.
- PCMCIA CardBus support, in the way of an O2 Micro-based bridge. This is the first time I’ve worked with anything other than yenta or pd6729, and so I didn’t know a 2.6.34 kernel would require embedded support to get to the yenta-O2 option. Who would’ve thought a 12-year-old Pentium would require “embedded” software support. …
I think that’s about it. It has a few other amenities that would have made it a real Cadillac in its time, like a serial port and a floppy drive, and things like that still come in handy for people like me.
The chassis is in excellent shape and the screen is in good condition. It seems to have some speckling effects here and there when the screen colors are bright, but it’s certainly not in any way damaged or unreadable. And there’s one scuff on the lid at the top right, which I might be able to buff out.
But other than those minor points, I really, really like it. It has all the little finishing touches that I wish were on this machine, and it’s in excellent shape to boot. And that working battery is still just … unbelievable.
That’s all for now; I’ll have some more war stories over the next couple of days. I’ll leave you with one final kick though: The screenshots you see there are of Arch Linux.