Old Computer Challenge - Debian on Thinkpad T60
Sebastian Skibinski (KuchiKuu)
Due to the challenge posted here
I have decided to give it a go on my Thinkpad T60 previously running OpenBSD
My Thinkpad T60 DOES NOT (officially) qualify for the challenge as it has 2 cores.
But I will participate anyway. Thinkpad T60 is from 2006. I think it's old enough. *wink*
> Day 1: Installing Debian
Best experience eveeerrrrr.
So I've downloaded the iso from the main Debian website.
I've used BalenaETCHER to write the iso onto USB stick.
I've decided to use the Graphical Installer. Why not.
Everything went very smoothly. The only thing that was a "Black Magic"
to me was partitioning. Boy, oh boy. I didn't even know how to change my SWAP partition size.
And I wanted to, because it's set to 1GB. I wanted to give it like 4GB. Whatever.
There also was a problem with installing non-free Wifi Intel(R)(TM) drivers.
The installer was looking for the drivers on the installation medium, but just couldn't find them.
Since it was a net install, I plugged my ethernet cable, went back a step
to detect that I've connected the cable and carried on.
I was very possitively surprised, that when the time came to ask me, whether I want to
participate in an anonumous statistics, where the apps that I use would be sent to the Debian
to determine which packages are the most popular to place them onto
the next installation iso, the default answer was a "No" instead of a "Yes". Nice.
I opted-in. Why not.
>Day 1: Running Debian on Thinkpad T60
This thing FLIES! Like a rocket. WhoooooOOOoooooSH!!!!
I love it. It is amazing.
OpenBSD is cool and stuff, but I, personally, don't like sacrificing performance over security.
Security in a corporation- fine.
Security on your VPS - sure.
Security on my own personal spare laptop - HELL NO.
I want it to crunch these zeros and ones the fastest it can.
1 0 0 0 1 0 1 BEEP BOOP
The less performance-lowering security solutions the better.
OpenBSD on this Thinkpad was hella slowish. It ran. It ran real good. But it didn't fly.
In addition, let me mention that I have only two partitions
/ and swap
and the root (/) partition, is ext2.
Yup. Using whole blocks even if there's only 1 byte to write and NO JOURNALING.
The speed, with which the packages are installed using apt is impressive.
Way faster than OpenBSD's pkg_add.
(Omg I can already see all the hate that I'm going to get for writing this)
>Day 1: Wifi 5GHz??????
While using OpenBSD I could only connect to a 2GHz Wi-Fi.
I was thining that this is normal, as it is quite an old piece of hardware.
But Guess what
I could connect to my 5GHz band Wi-Fi on Debian once I've installed non-free Intel Wifi drivers.
>Day 1: Back to the challenge
YouTube will not be tested as I am on my personal No-Youtube-challenge since 2021-06
- Telegram - works
- Discord - works
- Firefox - works
- Falkon - works
- LibreOffice Word - works - starts in 7 seconds
- Xchat - works
- Browsing web works very well
Everything works very smoothly. I don't feel any big lags.
Probably due to having
- 2 cores (RIP Challenge)
- 3 GB of RAM (RIP Challenge)
- 240GB SSD
>Day 2: Listening to Apple Music
From time to time I like to listen to some music.
Normally I would open YouTube Music and listen some there
but that's not an option (at least for now).
Instead of YouTube Music, I also have Apple Music, and Apple Music can be listened in a browser.
I opened it in Falkon (My go-to browser on this machine).
The website worked, but not quite.
I then opened music.apple.com in Firefox.
Logged in, and when I tried to play a song, I was requested to install DRM plugin.
Being fully aware of such possibility, I installed the plugin, reloaded the page and...
Music started playing from my headphones.
What is surprising, is the quality of the music.
When I was using OpenBSD on this laptop, there was hardly any bass.
The music played well. No problem with audio what-so-ever, but the audio quality was worse.
I thought, it's the hardware. The laptop is old so I let it be.
But when I connected my headphones while using Debian, my ears were being blasted with fat bass.
Impressive. How the same hardware can behave totally different when using a different software.
>Day 2: Where the grill at?
So after a while I've decided to go outside and chill with my T60.
I have a bluetooth speaker. My idea was to take a chair,
take the speaker,
some fuzzy beverage... And chill with some music.
>Day 2: Terminal 1 - 0 GUI
So I wanted to connect my laptop with the bluetooth speaker.
Everything was fine, but I just could not pair the speaker.
Right click -> Pair. No result.
Right click -> Setup. "Pairing failed" or something.
I used a search engine (not google btw) and I saw a title that went:
"Can't connect to bluetooth devices in Debian 10"
Bingo! I thought. So there was something about firmware.
The post suggestes to download a firmware called ibt-hw-37.7.bseq
from this url:
And put it in /lib/firmware/intel. I already had ibt-hw-37.8.bseq but ok.
Downloaded -> placed in the directory -> reboot -> didn't help.
T E R R I B L E.
I then follwed this guide:
B E S T. G U I D E. E V E R.
I followed the steps, and I successfully paired my speaker.
The thing was that the GUI did not ask me for a pairing PIN.
The CLI program asked me the pin. I entered the (apparently) default 0000 pin, and I WAS IN!!
Music blastin' from mah speaka.
Sitting in a shadow during a hot day.
Slight wind cools me down.
I was missing just two things that I now really really want.
Aw that would be lovely. But it was great a great day non-the-less.
- A projector to cast a movie on a wall during the night
- A grill to put some fat kielbasa to eat it with musztarda
Oh, by the way. I have a rule that if it's for educational purpose, then I am allowed to watch YouT$
I consider 1 or 2 reviews of a product I want to buy to be an "educational purpose".
So I was watching some projectors' reviews (maybe 2 or 3 videos total) and YouTube
played quite well. Of course there was lag when loading the side content, but the video
itself played very well.
>Day 3: Everythin's fine.
I didn't use the laptop much. I'm just relaxing.
Watching some old movies from archive.org
The day continues...
>Day 4: Limiting resources
kayw on IRC gave me a tip how to limit my laptop's resources.
Basically, when the computer boots, one can add
to the "linux" line in GRUB boot entry to use maximum of 512MB of RAM
and a maximum of 1 core of the CPU.
>Day 4: 512 is definitely not enough
So when I tried to test that boot entry "hack" for the first time,
I did some mistake.
I have written "mem=512 nr_cpus=1" and was greeted with
"Physical KASLR disabled: No suitable memory region!"
Oups. An Error. So then I tried "mem=1G nr_cpus=1".
And with 1GB of RAM it booted fine. With only 1 core available.
I began to wonder "why was 512MB not enough?"
It turns out, in order to allow the usage of 512MB, one has to write "mem=512M".
Can you spot a difference?
On my first try, I allowed linux to use only 512 Bytes of RAM. BYTES.
The third try worked out just fine. I had 483MiB of RAM and only 1 core CPU.
Day 4: Am I now officially allowed to participate in the challenge!?!?!?
Solene mentioned fvwm on IRC.
I gave it a go in order to lower my RAM usage.
MATE + Xchat used 369MiB.
I downloaded fvwm, switched to it, and got a steady 180MiB of RAM usage with Xchat running.
Day 4: Going back to MATE because I'm a linux normie
So after like 20/30 minutes of using fvwm, I went back to MATE.
The reasons are:
And at the very end, I went back to just using all my laptop's resources because:
- I couldn't activate tap-to-click
- I have no idea how to configure fvwm
- I didn't want to spend time on learning how to configure fvwm (at least for now)
- I had to use pactl in order to raise/lower the volume
- I had to use upower to check current battery percentage
- When I opened firefox and started listening to music with 2-3 tabs opened in the background, my RAM usage went up to 370MiB and SWAP went up to 400MiB. If I'm going to sit on SWAP all the time I can just as well go back to 3GB of RAM.
Big respect to everyone running this challenge at 512MB of RAM
This page has been written on T60 itself