ZoneO-tips for Mandriva Linux

Mandriva (Mandrake) Linux 10.1 with the IBM 570E

IBM Thinkpad 570E Recently, I upgraded the linux distribution I had on an old laptop, an IBM 570E and actually, it was quite simple.

The machine

Well, this laptop is getting a little old, but it still runs great! Honestly, if you mostly do email, web browsing, and office work, it really does the trick. We have been using is for years (maybe 5 years now) and it stills works fine.

It came with a Pentium II at 500 MHZ, 64 MB ram, and a 4 GB hard disk. Screen size is 13.3", it includes a modem, but does not have on-board ethernet. Since we bought it, we upgraded the memory to 384MB and the hard drive to 20 GB. We also have the ultrabase, that includes a DVD player and a floppy drive.

If you're looking for a dirst cheap laptop, you should be able to get one of them on ebay...

To upgrade the Linux install, I went for linux Mandrake 10.1, the distribution I use for my everyday job. For this, I used the DVD drive on the ultrabase.

Component Status Comment
Pentium II 500 Mhz Works
Sound Works
13.3" LCD Works 1024x768, 16 millions colors
Modem Not tested
External display Works

Step 1: Linux install

The Mandrake install went fine. I manually chose the size of my partitions to

  • 4 gigs for the root partition, in /
  • 10 gigs for my personal files, in /home/
  • 4 gigs for the programs I'll install by hand, in /usr/local/
  • 2 gigs for windows, in /mnt/windows

There was no trouble with the installation.

Step 2, post install: small problem at startup

After the install two problems arose: it did not boot, and I could not login.

Ok, relax Max, it's easy to fix! It turns out that the 570E does not like to be rebooted. When you reboot, it refuses to start and you get a kernel panic. The fix is simple, just turn it off, and restart it. I noticed this problem before and it has nothing to do with the linux install.

Second problem: X started fine, but there was no log-in window! It's a mandrake bug... There is something like "Mandrake first boot", a program that offers you to register online and stuff like it, that blocks the machine!! In order to stop this mess, you have to log-in in a terminal window (Ctr-Alt-F1) as root, get the list of process (type top), find the process number, quit the "top" program, and kill the "Mandrake first boot": kill -9 #### where #### is the process number you just found. You can then go back to the graphical mode (Ctr-Alt-F7) and log-in. Now, this thing is going to happen each time you start the machine until you actually run it. So, from you graphical interface, open a terminal window, log-in as root (su), and type /usr/sbin/drakfirstboot, answer the questions, and it will be the end of it.

Step 3, post install configuration: PCMCIA wireless card

This laptop does not have any ethernet, so I have a PCMCIA wireless card for it, it's a Speestream SS1021. Well, Speedstream does not exist anymore. It was bought by Siemens and a few years later, they just stopped making wireless stuff... A good example of stupidity in the big business.

Not only that, there are two kinds Speestream SS1021 wireless cards (fucking bastards!). The old one (that I have) is a Prism based wireless card, and it works quite well with Linux. The new ones are based on the Texas Instruments ACX100 chipset. They work but they are much harder to use (I had one...).

With all this mess, Mandrake did not recognize my card... In this case, you have to check the logs... So what I did was to monitor the kernel log file while pluging in the card. Type

tail -f /var/log/messages

Remove the card, and plug it in. In my case, it gave me the vendor number, and basically told me it did not know what to do with it. Lucky enough, I did know what driver to use: orinoco_cs, which is included in Mandrake, so I just had to tell him to do so. Thanks to this page, Linksys WPC11 Wireless Ethernet Card in Linux, I found the way quite quickly, it takes a few steps:

  1. add a line in /etc/modules.conf to tell linux to load the right module:
    alias eth0 orinoco_cs
  2. Create the file /etc/pcmcia/hermes.conf with:
    device "orinoco_cs"
    class "network"
    module "hermes", "orinoco", "orinoco_cs"
    # Speedstream ss1021
    card "Speedstream wireless card"
    manfid 0x02ac, 0x3021
    bind "orinoco_cs"
  3. Manually load the orinoco_cs module: modprobe orinoco_cs
  4. restart the pcmcia subsystem: /etc/rc.d/init.d/pcmcia restart.

After, plug-out the card, plug it back in, and you can simply use the Mandrake GUI (Configure you computer -> network -> add a connection) and it works!

At the next boot, you will not need to do anything, it will just work.

Step 4: external monitor

If you want to use an external display, just go ahead: it works. Plug it in, type Fn-F7 and enjoy.


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