Installing Linux on a Thinkpad 760ED
I recently acquired a secondhand Thinkpad 760ED and the obvious first step
was to install Linux on it. The distribution I chose was Debian version
2.2.18 (this is a little old, but was what I had to hand), and the
instructions below apply to that.
The laptop has a swappable floppy drive and CDROM, but they're not
hot-swappable (you have to lift up the keyboard to exchange them).
Unfortunately, it won't boot off CD, or life would have been much easier.
There are instructions here on how to make
it boot from CD if you want, but they're a bit complicated (involves quite a
bit of DOS stuff) and anyway I was halfway through the process below before I
found them, so I didn't use that.
This is what I did instead:
- Installed the base system from a pile of floppy disks.
Instructions for doing this are available on the Debian website. You need a rescue disk and
root disk to get the installation process going. I used the compact system
images, which have only one driver disk; the standard version has 4, and I
imagine would work fine. I didn't install any extra drivers from the driver
modules. The base system then comes on 11 floppy disks, but doesn't take too
- After this there's a little configuring, including boot configuration - I
set the laptop to boot from MBR.
- At this point you have to reboot to finish off the
installation. Just as it restarted, I turned the machine off, swapped the
floppy drive for the CD drive, and started it up again.
- This was the point at which I ran into problems. Not having access to a
phone line, I couldn't install via modem so needed the CD. Unfortunately, apt
couldn't find the CD at /dev/cdrom. The solution to this, it transpires, is
to tell it to look at /dev/hdb (or /dev/hdc - wherever your CD actually is.
This information is in one of the bootlog messages, but it's likely to be one
of those. If in doubt, reboot and watch the screen).
- This got me as far as
loading the available packages, starting dselect, and choosing packages. It
got stuck again at the installation stage and kept asking for the CD to be put
in the drive.
- The solution to this problem is to exit dselect, finish off the
configuration, and then you get a system shell. The system you have at this
point is absolutely the basics. I then edited /etc/fstab and added a line for
/dev/hdb - identical to the line which was already there for /dev/cdrom, but
replacing /dev/cdrom with /dev/hdb. Note: I recommend using the editor
'editor' for this. It gives you a nice helpful top line with the commands on.
The version of vi that comes with the base system is really bizarre and I have
no idea how it's supposed to work. You only need to add one line, so you don't
need anything fancy.
- I then ran dselect again. All my choices had been saved, so I could just go
straight to the Install stage.
- gpm configuration: this runs during dselect installation. The defaults
given worked for me. Note that the mouse is PS2.
- X configuration: I chose to install XF86Setup, which then helpfully comes
up during dselect installation. One slight problem was that if I messed around
on the mouse page for too long, it hung. No idea why. Since my mouse was
working mostly OK, I went onto the other tabs (keyboard, monitor, etc). The
760ED has a Trident Cyber 9385 chip, with 2MB of VRAM. It will run at
1024x768. I chose the non-interlaced 1024x768 SVGA option for the monitor
settings, and it worked fine. I got pretty lucky, in fact - the whole thing
ran great first settings I chose. The only problem is that the mouse thinks it has 3 buttons, which it doesn't, and currently doesn't do Emulate3Buttons. I intend to try to fix this when I have time.
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