Stephe's Linux 760 Thinkpad Page!



This is a short page on getting a older thinkpad to run a CD install of linux. The problem is you can't boot from a CD or hot swap the drives. It's not real complex but it isn't super easy either. Here's what I did and the mistakes I made. First off I used a 760EL and redhat 7.0 so any advice is based on that. To start with boot with a windows boot disk and use fdisk to make a small bootable dos partition (about 50 meg) and the rest as D:\  now reboot. Format both drives (format c:/s then format D:) and reboot without the floppy in the drive. Then copy files needed (mscdex.exe etc) and create the autoexe.bat and config.sys entries to make the dos partition able to read a CD. If you haven't ever done this in dos, do a search and it should be easy to find this info and the drivers you'll need.  Also go ahead and copy to the C:\ partition from the windows floppy and install the IBM PS2 program (download from IBM) onto this partition for later configuring of items on the mother board (irq's and IR support etc) then shutdown.

Remove the floppy drive and insert the CD drive. Boot the machine from the hard drive and you should have CD access on the E: drive. There is a utility on the CD in the dos utilities folder called autoboot.bat. It should boot the CD from this dos partition but it will crash later in the install if you do. The trick is to copy the files from this folder on the CD (read the autoboot.bat file and you'll see what you need, you can read this file using then copy and modify the autoboot.bat file using to refer to the hardrive stored files by simply changing the drive letter to c: on each entry. Then edit the autoexec.bat and config sys files by putting a "rem" (without quotes) before each line in both files to eliminate any thing from being put into memory, especially the CDrom drivers. Now I would also go ahead and run PS2 and setup any devices you are going to use and disable anything you aren't going to use. M-wave is not supported in linux so go ahead and disable that as well as IR and any ports you don't plan on using. The installer will try to go into X Windows by default. This never worked for me so I also had to edit the autoboot.bat file to add "text" (without quotes) to the end of the line. This is passed to the install process, and you are able to install the system using text mode. Now do a COLD reboot letting it sit for a few seconds to totally clear the memory. You will not have CD support in dos but when you run autoboot.bat and after the kernel image boots, you will have CD support in linux! The install program should start and you should be on your way to installing linux. The problem seems to be a conflict betwen the dos drivers and the linux drivers being in memory at the same time. Once you get it to boot a cdimage linux kernel without dos drivers in memory, everything is fine.

I plan on adding more soon like my install of X and configuring my sound, PCMCIA modem and network cards. Feel free to e-mail me at about this or any other linux problems.

Here is a copy of the XF86config file I used with my 1024X768 TFT screen