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NetBSD 1.6.2 on the IBM Thinkpad 760XL

Of course, TP 760 XL runs NetBSD!

This Thinkpad cannot boot from CD-Rom. (You don’t believe me? Press F1 while booting, enter your BIOS and have a look. It’s always better to verify. That’s why we use Open Source.) If you want to install NetBSD from CD-Rom, you should use the really smart "smart boot manager." Boot from the smart boot manager-floppy. It will lead you to a menu which allows you to boot the machine from CD-Rom.

For installation and configuration, follow the perfect NetBSD-Guide

When choosing your password, remember that the default keyboard-layout after the installation-process is US. Otherwise you may be surprised at the login after the first reboot.

If you’re unlucky, your terminal doesn’t fill the entire display. If you see a black frame surrounding your terminal and you don’t want to see it, you need the IBM-Configuration-Tool uttpfw98.exe to change the resolution. Download it and stretch the resolution from 640x480 to 800x600. This tool runs under Windows 95/98/Me and 2000. So don’t wipe Windows from the hard disc completely. At least, not right from the beginning.

X causes some problems on this Thinkpad. Well, let’s say it clearly: It was a real pain to get the X-server up. But it’s possible. Let’s see how.

This machine uses the video-controller Trident Microsystems Cyber 9385. Unfortunately, the Trident-driver coming with XFree86 4 is buggy. It gives only a scrambled display. You have to use the old X-servers of XFree86 3.3.6 which you’ll find in the package-collection (package “xservers-”). Thanks, NetBSD!

To get your X-server up, proceed as follows:

Install your NetBSD 1.6.2 with XFree86 4.

The command “pkg_add –v ” will fetch the old x-servers and create the directory /usr/pkg/X11R6.3 with all the necessary files of the old X-servers. This is the moment when you’ll fall immediately in love with your package-collection.

The following command will create a link in /usr/X11R6 with the name “X11R6.3” pointing to /usr/pkg/X11R6.3:

# ln –s /usr/pkg/X11R6.3/ /usr/X11R6/X11R6.3

Create another link with the name “X” from /usr/X11R6/bin pointing at the X-server XF86_SVGA which is perfect for our terrible Trident Cyber 9385:

# ln –s /usr/pkg/X11R6.3/bin/XF86_SVGA /usr/X11R6/bin/X

Now, you need just an appropriate configuration-file /etc/XF86Config to run X. Here is my XF86Config for Thinkpad 760XL. A simple copy-and-paste should give you a properly working GUI at 800x600.

Some keys of your keyboard don’t work?

Choose the appropriate XkbLayout for your country in the Keyboard-section of XF86Config. Install “readline” and create the file ~/.inputrc with the following three lines: set convert-meta off set input-meta on set ouptut-meta on

You are German? Oh my god! Anyway, you absolutely want your famous “Umlaute”? Create the file ~/.profile with the following line: LC_ALL=de_DE.iso_8859_1;export LC_ALL

I am working with the fantastic window-manager "Blackbox" which is very fast on this old Laptop. Don’t even think of using heavy desktop-systems like KDE or Gnome. Take some lightweight software like Dillo, Sylpheed, Midnight Commander and Abiword and you’ll work happily with your good old Thinkpad. Have a look at "DeLi Linux" to get a good idea of a set of lightweight open source software. The philosophy behind DeLi Linux is great: providing a fully featured working-environment for older hardware. Its based on Slackware. You can get the same results with NetBSD.

For further technical information about this Thinkpad see also Simon South’s very precious page GNU/Linux on the IBM ThinkPad 760XL.


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