IBM Thinkpad 755C and FreeBSD's minimal hardware requirements - still usable?

Polytropon freebsd at
Mon Oct 19 04:47:30 UTC 2009

Dear list,

I'm about to try something strange. Recently, I got back my
IBM Thinkpad 755C. It's from ca. 1995, has a 486 processor
at 75 MHz, 20 MB RAM and a 640x480x256 display. The hard disk
is 330 MB, but I have a 500 MB disk that I want to use. Use
for what? FreeBSD, of course.

Allthough this device is quite old, the battery lasts 3 hours.
I'm not joking, I tried it.

The laptop contains two PCCARD (PCMCIA) slots for expansions.
A floppy disk drive is built in, as well as audio (builtin
microphone and speaker, connectors for line in and headphones).
On the back, there are connectors for VGA, serial (9 pin),
and parallel, as well as for some kind of docking station.
There's no USB and no CD drive.

Here's my question:

Is it, under any circumstances, possible to run FreeBSD on this
configuration in order to have a portable and lightweight (in
regards of software) diagnostic computer?

I thought about putting in a PCCARD based NIC (I have a Realtek
one that works well with FreeBSD), as well as a WLAN card.

On the software side I would think about CLI tools mostly, but
it would be great to run X (even at this limited screen, but
there's always the option of using a bigger virtual desktop).
Programs should include a web browser, mail client, and finally
a network traffic diagnostic tool, such as Wireshark (ex Ethereal).

I had FreeBSD 4 running on this device from floppy for testing
purposes, so I know I have to pay attention to the fact that
the keyboard needs to be flagged as XT (not AT) - very stange.
I had FreeBSD 4 running on a 486/60 Toshiba T2130ct with 8 MB
RAM in the past, but I'm using this one now for programming
Motorola mobile radios. It's builtin trackpoint is not working
anymore, but the Thinkpad's is in perfect condition, so I have
a good pointing device. Furthermore, the Thinkpad's keyboard
is excellent, compared to the Toshiba and to "modern" notebooks
with their floppy-sloppy keys.

Is this imaginable at all?

Any ideas, comments or suggestions are appreciated.

PS. Of course I would buy one of those modern "Netbooks" to
    have the same effect, but why buy when the stuff I have
    arund anywill will work, too? I know, I'm just plain mean,
    and I diskike the Netbook's nearly unusable keyboards as
    well as the absence of a proper pointing device (the ugly
    slimy fingerprint-glidepad is no solution).

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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