Damn Small Linux on my Armada 1750
My PC is dead. For several weeks my computer has refused to boot. After some testing it became obvious that my motherboard was the problem. Now, I cannot even power it up. Of course, my computer said good-bye shortly after the warranty had expired. I do not want to buy me a new one, because I do not really need it. For multimedia application I use my iBook and that is enough for that. For checking Emails, writing LaTeX-Code and printing the generated PDFs with my HP Laserjet via the LPT interface—which the iBook does not have—a small PC is quite sufficient. For example my sister’s worn out notebook Compaq Armada 1750.
The question is now which operating system should I install, this means, which GNU/Linux distribution? The desktop must be lean and fast, because it has a Pentium II processor with just 299 MHz and 64 MB ram.
After some testing I decided to use Damn Small Linux (DSL), because after installation it uses 160 MB of the hard disk, which has only 4 GB. Furthermore DSL uses the Kernel 2.4.26 the best Kernel for older laptops. Due to the fact that the Armada gets a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels you have to boot with the parameter ‘fb800x600’ at boot prompt. After booting the Live-CD you can install DSL to your hard disk by clicking on ‘Apps | Tools | Install to Hard Drive’. You get into the menu by using the right mouse-button. For ‘target partition’ I chose ‘hda1’ and for file system I decided against ‘ext3’, because ‘ext2’ is recommended for older systems. After rebooting it has now a small Debian system and one can proceed to set it up.
First we need Apt and Synaptic to get software from the repositories. For this you have to click on ‘Apps | Tools | Enable Apt’ and ‘Apps | Tools | Synaptic‘ in the menu. Installing Synaptic is necessary even if you do not want to use it, because with Synaptic some important packages will be installed. To change DSL into a Debian Woody you have to write ‘woody’ instead of ‘stable’ in the file ‘/etc/apt/apt.conf’. As root type:
sed -e 's/stable/woody/g' -i /etc/apt/apt.conf
Then you need to adept your ‘/etc/apt/sources.list’:
deb http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ woody main non-free contrib deb-src http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ woody main non-free contrib deb http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US woody/non-US main contrib non-free deb-src http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US woody/non-US main contrib non-free deb http://security.debian.org/ woody/updates main contrib non-free
With the command ‘apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade’ as root you can update your system to Woody, when you have enough time and when you are experienced enough. If you like you can use my script dsl2woody to do this for you. You can also use my script dsl2stable to switch to stable sources, if you need them.
It is possible that upgrading stops with some error messages like this one:
dpkg: error processing pcmcia-cs (--configure): subprocess pre-installation script returned error exit status 1 ... /var/cache/apt/archives/pcmcia-cs_3.1.33-6woody_i386.deb E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)
You get help with following command:
dpkg -i --force-overwrite --force-depends /var/cache/apt/archives/pcmcia-cs_3.[...]
Instead of the PCMCIA package the fileutils package can also make trouble. In this case you have to run the dpkg command for fileutils.
The PCMCIA package also likes to interrupt installation with the message:
update-rc.d: /etc/init.d/pcmcia: file does not exist
To fix this just do a
touch /etc/init.d/pcmcia && chmod 755 /etc/init.d/pcmcia
and run dpkg for PCMCIA again.
Now we can configure the sound. Therefore install and start sndconfig:
apt-get install sndconfig && sndconfig
In sndconfig choose Soundblaster with following settings:
I/O Port IRQ DMA 0x220 5 1
Finally we have to change the rights of the mixer and dsp files, otherwise we can get the error message „Can’t find suitable libao driver. (Is device in use?)“:
chmod 666 /dev/dsp /dev/mixer
If you do not want to install sndconfig you can load the module with modprobe
/sbin/modprobe sb io=0x220 irq=5 dma=1
For permanent sound put the line ‘sb io=0x220 irq=5 dma=1’ into ‘/etc/modules’.
Of course you can install Sid, Sarge or Etch instead of Woody. In this case you should add the following line to the file ‘/etc/apt/apt.conf’.
Newer versions of Apt get problems without it.