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 Forum index » Taking the Puppy out for a walk » Misc
Resurrection..!
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Mike Walsh


Joined: 28 Jun 2014
Posts: 6397
Location: King's Lynn, UK.

PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov 2014, 15:43    Post subject:  Resurrection..!
Subject description: Rescuing an old Dell lappie from that great scrapheap in the sky...
 

Evening, everybody.

Now, then; I'm going to state, quite categorically, that I honestly think Puppy Linux is the best thing since sliced bread!

My main workhorse, a 10 yr-old Compaq Presario desktop, has been running Linux since May, and is now hosting assorted 'buntu-based distros; quite happily, I might add.

I also have an even older Dell laptop; an original Inspiron 1100, from 2002. This beast ( a 'brick', its battery pack weighs more than a Macbook 'Air') was running Win XP originally.....and came with 128 MB RAM, and a 20 GB HDD. It really struggled with XP; I upped the RAM to the max supported by the motherboard (1 GB), and swapped the HDD for a 40 GB Hitachi 'TravelStar'.....but it didn't make a lot of difference, since the CPU is an ancient 'NetBurst'-generation Intel Celeron, with a 128k cache; watching paint dry takes less time!

When I swapped to Linux earlier in the year, I was trying various lightweight distros to try & extend the Inspiron's lifespan; but they all had a problem with the onboard graphics, and the display always ended up jammed into the top left hand corner, at 640x480.....it has a 1024x768 screen. Very annoying..!

Then I came across the 'Puppies'. I tried 'Precise' & 'Slacko'; they worked fine on the Compaq, but still had display problems on the Dell.....fragmented, broken, chunks missing; I was on the point of calling it a day, & scrapping it. Didn't want to, though.....the keyboard and Synaptics touchpad are SO much better than anything you can buy today.

I heard about 'Tahrpup' from an acquaintance on the Ubuntu Forums; based on Trusty Tahr, which is my main system, I thought it couldn't hurt to try....and, well; to say I was gobsmacked would be the understatement of the year. I was suddenly like a kid with a new toy again.

Absolutely EVERYTHING works....perfectly. Even the recalcitrant screen was at full resolution again. On top of everything else, it's even set-up now for network printing!

Full marks to the development team; this is an absolute little gem. Well done, everybody...and thank you.

Cheers!

Regards,

Mike.

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Fossil


Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 1172
Location: Gloucestershire, UK.

PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov 2014, 16:27    Post subject:  

Mike, Congratulations! I too have the Dell from Hell! The graphics resolution was always a PITA. The only solution was to flash the BIOS with the latest upgrade - can't remember which one! It cured the 'picture in a frame' problem.
As for the keyboard: All the bunched keys on the right-hand side have now died. Taking the keyboard off and cleaning it did nothing, the keys are still dead. Replacing the keyboard isn't worth the cost, a simple external plug-in suffices.
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Mike Walsh


Joined: 28 Jun 2014
Posts: 6397
Location: King's Lynn, UK.

PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov 2014, 18:50    Post subject:  

Heya, fossil!

Nice to know I'm not the only one with one of these antiques. Y'know though, having said that, they DO have their good points; built like a brick outhouse (not like the 'bendy' iPhones...haha), SERIOUSLY the best keyboard and touchpad I've ever found in a laptop....and that HEAVY old battery pack does at least give a decent battery life....I get about 3 1/2 hrs out of mine. I replaced it 2 years ago with a high-capacity version, and it does quite nicely now! (It's a re-built one, from a 5100).

At least I bypassed the famous 'exploding battery pack' episode!

Your point about the BIOS is well-taken. I was looking into it a couple of years ago, when I was still running XP. The original one is the A22; the recommended upgrade is the A32. I did try upgrading it at the time, but I kept getting the message that the 'flash upgrade has failed'.....and one of those incomprehensible Windows error codes (which I never did find out the meaning of)!

CAN you flash the BIOS under Linux? And if so, how do you go about it? I'd LOVE to know if it IS possible.To be perfectly honest, since it's working like a charm right now, and doing everything I ask of it, I'm loathe to 'faff about' with it.....I shall in all likelihood end up completely trashing the old girl...

My keyboard is still working fine, but when I got 'gifted' the Compaq back in January from my sister (XP being EOL, she'd bought herself a new one with Win 7 pre-installed), I bought a cheap Logitech K120 for it. I tried it out on the Dell, and as you say, it works a treat.The only niggle I've always had with the Dell is ONLY 2 USBs...

Purely out of curiosity, how much RAM do you have on yours? And what size is YOUR hard drive? The manual says it'll only take up to a gig of RAM, but various blogs & forum posts I've found during the last couple of years suggest that the mobo WILL in fact support 2GB... At least you CAN upgrade the hard drive on the 1100; two screws, give a firm tug, and out it comes. You want to try doing that on my Mum's Inspiron 15R...the damn thing's soldered to the mobo..(!)

Regards,

Mike. Laughing

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rokytnji

Joined: 20 Jan 2009
Posts: 2288

PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov 2014, 22:19    Post subject:  

Quote:
CAN you flash the BIOS under Linux?

Well you can on my Dell E5500.
Quote:
Run the BIOS update utility from DOS environment (Non-Windows users) 1. Copy the downloaded file to a bootable DOS USB key. 2. Power on the system, then Press F12 key and Select "USB Storage Device" and Boot to DOS prompt. 3. Run the file by typing copied file name where the executable is located. 4. After BIOS update finished, system will auto reboot to take effect. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Note 1: You will need to provide a bootable DOS USB key. This executable file does not create the DOS system files.


you might need to borrow a Windows computer to download and run rufus since that is the easy way to make a dos bootable usb drive.

Here are the alternatives to rufus though if needing something linux compatible.

http://alternativeto.net/software/rufus/?platform=linux
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Mike Walsh


Joined: 28 Jun 2014
Posts: 6397
Location: King's Lynn, UK.

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 05:45    Post subject:  

Ho, rokytnji.

I've been using UNetbootin for some little while now, and have always been very pleased with the results.

Let me get this straight; I've been doing a bit of research into this over the last 48 hrs or so. Non-Windows machines need to boot into a DOS environment in order to execute the BIOS flash update, because all BIOS upgrades tend to be provided as .exe files......yes? Have I got that that correct?

Regards,

Mike.

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mikeb


Joined: 23 Nov 2006
Posts: 11331

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 07:32    Post subject:  

Older bios updates are DOS.... easier for the real mode needed to do things at a machine level.

Later bios updates often come in the form of a win32 like installer...run on XP jobbie.... me lenovo x60s and even the 2000 compaq has those. Not 100% but perhaps they get run during the initial XP boot phase...

I think from memory I could even use a win 98 disk to boot dos and run the DOS ones...not sure if freeDOS is useable but you never know.

mike
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Burn_IT


Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 3702
Location: Tamworth UK

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 08:33    Post subject:  

Yes to any DOS.
Also you can download DOS boot disk images that you can write direct to floppy I suspect you can even write a disk image from Puppy?? <grin>

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Fossil


Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 1172
Location: Gloucestershire, UK.

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 11:04    Post subject:  

The flashed BIOS is A32. If I recall I did it the old way via DOS.
The old Dell has 512 megs of ancient memory. The hard drive is a Hitachi Travelstar IC25N030ATMR04 30GB UDMA/100 4200RPM 2MB 2.5" IDE.
The performance is more than adequate for everyday tasks. Along with Puppy 412, I'm still running a cut-down Windows-XP with astronomy and satellite tracking software.
Incidentally, I received the Dell in pristine condition, the only problem - too difficult to have fixed! - was the keyboard. From inspection it looked as though a well-known Cola had been dripped between the key sections and the resulting sticky phosphoric acid mix had etched the fine copper filaments on the circuit board.
As for the battery. Yes, it did used to get warm. Nice for the winter when balanced on my rheumaticy knees, but not so nice when placed further up the thighs where the resulting heat was enough to nearly cook my gonads. In the younger male population this would have had a considerable impact on future fertility and would therefore count as a sure means of population control. Laughing
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rokytnji

Joined: 20 Jan 2009
Posts: 2288

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 11:18    Post subject:  

The age of this computer precludes booting from USB?
I would think.

So a cd or floppy bios update would be called for.
http://www.bootdisk.com/

The windows experts (which I am not). Need to kick in from here,
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Burn_IT


Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 3702
Location: Tamworth UK

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 11:53    Post subject:  

I think you'll find those executables are just a Windows executable and a floppy image wrapped to a self extracting zip.

You might be more likely to find a raw DRDos image file.

Even Puppies floppy boot uses DOS boot so you can hack that.

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Mike Walsh


Joined: 28 Jun 2014
Posts: 6397
Location: King's Lynn, UK.

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 17:17    Post subject:  

rokytnji wrote:
The age of this computer precludes booting from USB?
I would think.

So a cd or floppy bios update would be called for.
http://www.bootdisk.com/

The windows experts (which I am not). Need to kick in from here,


Nope! Surprisingly, the old Dell WILL boot from USB. It's how I'm running Puppy. I have a 16 GB SanDisk Cruzer 'Fit' nano flash drive, with 'Tahrpup' installed, occupying one of the 2 USB 2.0s at the back. The other is occupied by a TP-Link WN-725N wireless adapter, to connect to our router.

I believe Dell were one of the first manufacturers to incorporate USB booting in machines of that age. They were also one of the first to utilize the then recently released USB 2.0 standard over the original 1.1.

I've done a LOT of research into this thing over the years! But the thing of it is, that at 12 years old, it's still working.....just as well as it did when it was new. That's why I might pass on updating the BIOS.....knowing my luck, I may end up completely trashing it.

Regards,

Mike.

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mikeb


Joined: 23 Nov 2006
Posts: 11331

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 17:32    Post subject:  

Guess that means usb2 and booting usb probably appeared around the same time.

Have a 2001 compaq and its usb 1 and only boots from usb IF there is no hard drive and ONLY with syslinux on fat16... nothing else....and thats cos its bios believes its a hard drive.. i did update the bios on that but it di not enhance it even though it was supposed to.... I am not a fan of bios updates if avoidable either.

By the way is tahrpup really as ugly as some of the screen shots I have seen?

mike
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Mike Walsh


Joined: 28 Jun 2014
Posts: 6397
Location: King's Lynn, UK.

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 18:21    Post subject:  

Mike, if I can figure out how to get a screenshot to post on this forum, I'll show you my 'take' on it; it's quite an improvement!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Who's our resident graphics expert? Answer me this one, if you can...

Every time I try to install ANY Linux distro to this old girl, the 1024x768 screen reduces down to 640x480, jammed up into the top left corner. 'Precise' & 'Slacko' both pulled the same stunt, even though they were booting from USB flashdrive. 'Tahrpup', however (again installed on flashdrive), is the first one I've found that will give the full screen rez as it should be. I know the Intel' Extreme' graphics chip wasn't very highly thought of (and that's an understatement, if some of the blog posts'n'stuff I've read over the years are anything to go by!), but it WAS working OK under Win XP, many moons ago...

Now; WHY is that? Anybody got any insights into that one?

Regards,

Mike.

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Last edited by Mike Walsh on Fri 06 Feb 2015, 21:05; edited 2 times in total
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Mike Walsh


Joined: 28 Jun 2014
Posts: 6397
Location: King's Lynn, UK.

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 18:24    Post subject:  

Mike Walsh wrote:
Mike, if I can figure out how to get a screenshot to post on this forum, I'll show you my 'take' on it; it's quite an improvement!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Who's our resident graphics expert? Answer me this one, if you can...

Every time I try to install ANY Linux distro to this old girl, the 1024x768 screen reduces down to 640x480, jammed up into the top left corner. 'Precise' & 'Slacko' both pulled the same stunt, even though they were booting from USB flashdrive. 'Tahrpup', however (again installed on flashdrive), is the first one I've found that will give the full screen rez as it should be. I know the Intel' Extreme' graphics chip wasn't very highly thought of (and that's an understatement, if some of the blog posts'n'stuff I've read over the years are anything to go by!), but it WAS working OK under Win XP, many moons ago...

Now; WHY is that? Anybody got any insights into that one?

Regards,

Mike.[/img]
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rokytnji

Joined: 20 Jan 2009
Posts: 2288

PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov 2014, 18:27    Post subject:  

Naw. Not without a listed driver used. Probably shoulda coulda went with xvesa instead of defaults in xorg 1st.

Then find the graphics chip. Puppy has that in hardinfo or pupinfo.

then a


Code:
xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 8 x 8, current 1920 x 1080, maximum 4096 x 4096
VGA-0 connected primary 1920x1080+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 510mm x 287mm
   1920x1080      60.0*+
   1440x900       59.9 
   1280x1024      60.0 
   1280x800       59.8 
   1152x864       75.0 
   1024x768       70.1     60.0 
   800x600        60.3     56.2 
   640x480        59.9 


of what is capable wouldn't hurt either. But maybe someone else with the same problem and rig like posted earlier may know.
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