I have the good luck to babysit a laptop for the weekend. Or maybe I should say, the bad luck to babysit it.
It’s a Toshiba Dynabook V2/470CRC, and while it was loaned to me as a fixer-upper, I get the feeling I’ll be happy to return it to the owner.
It’s another Celeron Coppermine, this one running at 700Mhz and with a roomy 256Mb of PC100 in it. CDRW, 1024×768 screen, etc., etc. Not a bad computer, technically.
But this is one of those machines that looks good on paper — Intel guts, with the exception of the video card. A smattering of peripheral ports, but no built-in wired connection. Easy-to-get-to memory and hard drive bays, but a battered keyboard.
Some of that’s not the fault of the machine or Toshiba, just a sad history with an indifferent owner. On the other hand, that video card is for-certain a dealbreaker.
Arch can’t get a graphical screen on it, in either vesa, fbdev or the trident driver. Neither can Debian. Or Lubuntu. Or Puppy. Or Linux Mint Debian. Or …
Kernel framebuffer modules weren’t working either. Nothing short of the default font with a horrific framed effect … no matter who tried.
Until Slitaz came along. Yep, not only could Slitaz 3.0 push the framebuffer to its native 1024×768, but could get a full desktop working … with a little nudging. +1 for Slitaz, again.
So I wouldn’t call that video card a kiss of death, but this computer has an even bigger quirk I dislike … I can’t seem to get into the BIOS.
I’ve scrounged the Internet in hopes of finding the keypress that brings up the BIOS menu, but it eludes me. F2, F1, Esc, Del, the left shift key … nothing seems to work. It jumps straight to the first hard drive, no matter what.
Infuriating. Infuriating because that means it completely disregards the optical drive as a boot device. And without a floppy drive, there’s naught to be done but preinstall an operating system, and hope it works.
Which it usually doesn’t. Oh well. At least it’s easy to get to the hard drive.
So, let’s recap: Battered keyboard, tetchy video card, mysterious BIOS, won’t boot from CD, no wired connection, dirty from disuse, no battery … the list goes on.
No, this is definitely not something I’d like to keep. It’s a curiosity, and I’ll admit I like a challenge, but I have the luxury to pick and choose.
I’ll keep it around for a day or two, but then it has to go back to its owner. Thanks, but no thanks.