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Project-Diskless notebook-suggestions?

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Joined: 14 Jan 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:00 am    Post subject: Project-Diskless notebook-suggestions? Reply with quote

I have a Compaq M700 laptop w/128MB RAM. I plan to remove the bad hard disk and replace it with a Flash Memory card conneted to the IDE port.

I have the CF2IDE adapter and am waiting on the CF card (2GB to begin with). I also have a ZyXel wifi card, which I got working today.

I want to load DSL-N on the CF card, which will act just like the main hard disk.

I've tested and got everything working in the the laptop (sans hd) with the CD, so I'm excited so far. I can connect a 300GB usb hd and have it mounted and it works. I can use Samba to connect to my home network just fine. Wifi internet works great.

Question. Does anyone have any suggestions or see any problems that I might run into when I finally get the CF card and try to install DSL-N onto it and have it boot from the CF card?

Should everythiing work just as if I booted from the CD?

Can someone that's done a HD install point me to a known wokring procedure to do a hd install?

Can I use LILO instead of GRUB? If so, how?

Also, any suggestions on partioning the 2GB CF card? (I was assured by PC Engines, the maker of the adapter that the CF card will look just like a hd to Linux).

I would like to take pictures and put up the success story on the forum when I get it all working.

I'm also open to any ideas or suggestions 'outside the box', so to speak.

If you're wondering what I plan to do with it or why I'm doing it, the answer is 'just because'. I think it would be neat to not only be able to load an OS into a CF card, and still have room left over for songs, ., etc, just like an ipod, but it should boot extremely fast. That should impress people! It should also use less battery power than the HD did. And finally, I had this idea that I could put it in my car, connected to a 300GB usb hd, and have a couple hundred thousand songs available to me Laughing

And finally, it sure beats working with embedded Linux, with all the headaches with drivers and boot processes. This is basically 'off-the-shelf' hardware and software!

Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had a similar idea with a nearly new sony laptop I "received" with a bad SATA cotroller (dropped cracked... only thing that doesn't work) The idea I had was to steal one of the external USB ports and putty it up rewire it to a USB flash drive stashed in the Hard drive bay. Only real issues with CF is that many people say you can't write to them too many times so they do a frugal install like you would on a CD. I question the difference between the flash in a CF and the flash in a USB stick that would make a need for this.

Good luck!
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Joined: 04 Jan 2007
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Location: California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 16, 2007 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an ITX desktop, and have similar goals, especially to have a low-power, quiet machine. I bought a 2 GB CF card, but because of the limitations of my MB, could only plug it in as HDC. I was working with DSL at the time. Its GRUB install produced some kind of error messages, which later tracked down to having problems with the CF's geometry. So I tried a LILO install, but in that (earlier) version of DSL, LILO would install only to HDAx. So I bought a 64 MB Disk on Module (DOM), which is similar to CF but much more expensive per MB. I did a LILO install of DSL, intending to use the CF and and a USB pen drive for data, mydsl, backup, etc. (the DOM could install as HDA) Everything worked pretty well.

I later got interested in DSL-N, so had to buy a bigger DOM, 1 GB, which replaces the original 64 MB DOM. DSL-N installed on that with no problelms, using a GRUB install. I did, however, use a frugal install.

Yes, it has been the story that CF is good for a limited number of writes, but the technology has improved in the last few years.. You might look at your manufacturer's specs to see how many writes it is expected to handle. The manufacturer of my DOM (which is also compact flash technology) says about 2 million writes, which is good for a long time, probably longer than you would expect to use the CF. The CF devices have built-in firmware to reallocate space as individual blocks go bad, and this is transparent to the operating system. For this reason, CF and DOM devices ususually yield less than their advertised size in usable space. My first CF, 2 GB, yielded about 1.8 GB, and the 1 GB DOM has something over 900 MB.

As for faster booting, I don't know. True, the CF won't have seek times, but the data transfer rate is typically slower than on convendional hard drives. I think that my DSL-N takes between 60 and 90 seconds to boot. Of course, a frugal boot has to unpack the stuff to RAM, and I have a 533 MHz processor and PC133 RAM, so it is not lightning fast.

I'm sure that your project will work, if not on the first try, at least eventually. BTW, I read that CF and DOM devices frequently have geometry problems, and DSL-N also reported that the DOM's geometry didn't match exactly what DSL-N found, but it installed OK anyway. Good luck.
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