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

herbert langhans herbert.raimund at
Mon Oct 19 11:12:29 UTC 2009

Not a long time ago I got an old Thinkpad 600. With 300MHz and 165MB Ram.

Also the same challenge - small and fast ports for daily work. I run X11 with fluxbox (installed without! hal support). 

Recommendable ports are: Opera (smaller then Firefox) or even Elinks (there is a setting 'graphic mode'). Mutt for e-mails, vim (also gvim) is my text editor - it replaces word processing software. Centerim for instant messaging (instead of pidgin). Axyftp is a fast ftp-client, also for X11. Generally all the motif-programs are small and fast.

For a few bucks I got the PCMCIA-Card TP-Link TL-WN610G. It works perfect, but only without hal.

And my battery lasts easily over three hours, almost four with just a text editor running.

Maybe you go for a bigger harddisk? Costs a few bucks and will have enough space for BSD 7.2 (what I use) and some of the ports? Compiling your own kernel and cleaning out the kernel source and the distfiles of the ports is also a good idea..

herb langhans
On Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 06:47:27AM +0200, Polytropon wrote:
> 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).
> -- 
> Polytropon
> Magdeburg, Germany
> Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
> Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...
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sprachtraining langhans
herbert langhans, warschau
herbert dot raimund at gmx dot net
+0048 603 341 441

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