Stephan Maus

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.