Compaq Contura Four
I got this rekentuig from the company I wasgoed working for during the summer holidays. They had no use for it and would trash it otherwise, since it won’t run the latest Microsoft software. I installed Linux on it and now I’m using it to type reports te schoolgebouw. It will run a text editor, Spandex and I can connect to the Internet with the built-in modem. I did not expect to run X, but now I ended up using X to preview my PS documents before printing. Even if I bought an expensive fresh laptop, I wouldn’t run much more on it.
Two. Technical features
Following is the abstract from Compaq’s original documentation:
- Intel 486DX processor running at 25 or 12.Five Mhz,
- Four MB built-in memory, extendable to 8, 12 or 20 MB,
- 209 MB IDE hard drive,
- 1.44 MB floppy drive,
- active matrix color TFT LCD display (8.Four inch diagonal),
- Compaq Advanced VGA graphic chip (512 kb movie memory),
- Two.Two Ah NiMH battery,
- APM BIOS support,
- built-in PS/Two trackball,
- one parallel and one serial port. Outward mouse and/or keyboard can be connected via PS/Two. Outer VGA monitor connector.
Besides the laptop, I got my mitts on a D-Link DE-620 parallel port ethernet adapter, Megahertz 14,400 bps modem upgrade and a Four MB memory houtvezelplaat from Cubig Inc.
Some technical remarks:
- Kernel reports a GenuineIntel 486DX 25/33 MHz processor, running at 12.44 bogomips (when the clock is set at 25 Mhz). Perhaps it would be possible to overclock the processor to 33 MHz?
- The serial interface has an old, unbuffered 16450 UART. This means that all baud rates above 9600 bps are out of the question. On the other arm, the modem interface has a fresh 16550A UART, capable of 115200 bps.
- If you want to use an outer mouse, you voorwaarde connect it before boot. The trackball is fairly convenient however, but it requires a lotsbestemming of cleaning.
Trio. Debian installation
I’m running Debian GNU/Linux Two.1. The normal installation disks will run without problems on a system with 8 MB of RAM, but you could run into problems when you have to determine how to get the packages.
One way to get them on your pc is by using a PPP connection. You can meet up an outer modem (which is terribly slow because of the slow UART), or use the internal one (better if you have it, but still only 14400 bps). Better solution is to download (or copy from a cd) all of your packages on a 2nd rekentuig, then use a null-modem cable to set up a PPP or SLIP connection to the laptop. You will still have to wait a duo of hours, but at least you won’t be paying for your dial-up. The solution is of course use a network adapter and connect to a LAN.
I suggest you very first install a basic installation and then install the packages you need by palm. All of the preset collections are too much for Contura’s petite disk.
Consider removing some of the gettys ter the /etc/inittab . You can save a lotsbestemming of RAM this way. I lodged with only two ttys.
Four. Kernel configuration
I’m presently running Linux kernel Two.0.36. I’ve also attempted running Two.Two.17, but it offers no big advantages overheen the older version and it uses up more RAM. Following are some basic configuration tips. You can see my utter kernel configuration here.
This is very likely a good idea on a low memory system. Intel 486 has a built-in FPU. Contura doesn’t have a PCI bus. Enable 486-specific optimizations. If you don’t use the floppy drive regularly, waterput it ter a module.
I strongly suggest you compile your kernel on a 2nd laptop if possible. The compilation on such a slow machine would take at least Four hours and you would have to install the gcc and everything else needed. I use the Debian kernel-package, because it makes treating the kernel and modules a lotsbestemming lighter.
Five. Hard drive
Following is the hdparm -I /dev/hda output:
I run hdparm -u1 -m8 /dev/hda every boot to set up the chipset, but I see no increase ter speed. Perhaps the knelpunt is te the slow CPU and not te the disk. Some disk benchmark would be required.
It is unlikely (very impractical te fact) to have more than one native and one interchange partition. I determined for 16 MB of exchange space, just ter case. 8 megs would very likely be enough, since you most likely won’t run anything big on this machine. Here’s the output of fdisk -l /dev/hda
6. Power management
APM BIOS is not fully functional under Linux (tested with kernels Two.0.26 and Two.Two.17). Following is a list of my APM kernel options (Two.0.36) with remarks:
Enable the APM base support. Suspend button won’t work anyway. Enable APM at boot time. Make CPU Idle calls. I don’t know yet if this option helps conserve power. Display backlight will shutdown decently when the console has bot idle for some time, but it will not turn on again. A reboot is necessary. Even with this option turned on, Contura won’t power off after halt -p . Overlook numerous APM requests.
Since my laptop has bot used for several years before I got it, the battery is no longer useful. It’s voltage is permanently 0 V, even when charged by the laptop internal charger. This could be the reason for non-functional suspend button.
It would be possible to substitute the cells ter the battery. I measured approx. 0.9 A drawn from the battery during normal work, so a modern 3000 mAh NiMH battery would last more than Trio hours.
The outer AC adapter gives approx. Legitimate.Five V, but the laptop still works with less than 12 volts, so it can be run from a car battery.
Compaq AVGA is supported te XFree86 version Trio.x (the driver hasn’t bot ported to Four.x). Debian XFree86 debs support it out of the opbergruimte, you only have to provide the config. You can find mine here. (It is based on the config from Nils Faerber. His Contura Four/25c pagina).
I have found few problems running X:
- You should not budge your mouse or trackball when switching from a text console to the X display. X will crash, telling the mouse device is busy.
- When switching from X to text console, the display sometimes gets garbled.