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TandyMan100
November 27th, 2010, 09:26 AM
Here is my situation: I have a Toshiba 400CDT, 40MB of RAM, 100GB (!!!) HDD (yes I have the BIOS finding all 100GB), and a PCMCIA wireless card.

I would like to put Debian on it.

The hangups:
No CD drive, just a floppy drive.
No ethernet, just WiFi
No USB
And i can't plug the hard drive into a modern system.

So does anyone know of a Debian or other linux bootable netinst floppy with wifi drivers?

EDIT: oh, and a package manager. it needs a package manager too, since I'm an utter n00b. Multiple floppies won't be an issue.

glitch
November 27th, 2010, 11:08 AM
You should be able to use a floppy distro like Tom's Root Boot to boot up, load your network drivers, and format a chunk of the hard disk. Create your partition scheme, except for the last partition (I usually leave /home at the end of the disk); create in its place a temporary partition, format it with ext2. Use ftp/http to download the files necessary to bootstrap Debian from *NIX, and follow these instructions:

http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/apds03.html.en

Keep in mind that 40 MB of RAM is really slim for a full Debian install. You might be better off with one of the BSDs...I like OpenBSD for older systems. Its entire install process will boot from floppy and download files over the network. I've used this method with 486 and Pentium machines that didn't support CD boot, as well as old Sun systems that use weird CD sector size. Grab some more RAM if you can, though!

Chuck(G)
November 27th, 2010, 11:27 AM
When you say "no ethernet, just WiFi", does that mean you have no internet access?

At any rate, 40MB is just fine for many of the older Debian releases (http://archive.debian.org/debian/).

Ole Juul
November 27th, 2010, 01:02 PM
Apparently Redhat 7.3 will run on that machine, but the wifi is a bit of a disconnect - vintage wise. It's a newer invention. Package management is best done with apt. Look it up. It's great! However, for such a small system, perhaps you should do things by hand. Still, I think you'll find it easier to learn on newer hardware.

I don't want to be a party-pooper, but my suggestion is that you do something vintage with that machine and save the wifi for a newer box. :)

vwestlife
November 27th, 2010, 10:46 PM
If the 400CDT is like my 410CS, then then internal drive bay can accept either a floppy drive or a CD-ROM drive. Toshiba also provided an external case for the floppy drive, to plug into the external floppy port, when you're using the CD-ROM drive in the bay. So you'll just need to track down a compatible Toshiba CD-ROM drive, and then installing software will be much easier!

TandyMan100
November 28th, 2010, 06:43 AM
If the 400CDT is like my 410CS, then then internal drive bay can accept either a floppy drive or a CD-ROM drive. Toshiba also provided an external case for the floppy drive, to plug into the external floppy port, when you're using the CD-ROM drive in the bay. So you'll just need to track down a compatible Toshiba CD-ROM drive, and then installing software will be much easier!
I had a CD drive, but it broke, sadly, and I am having a bit of a bugger of a time tracking down a new one.

@Ole Juul
The reason I make such a big deal of wifi is I am probably going to just use this machine for Link browsing and IRC with IRSSI or something, so I would really like to get wifi working on a "good" OS.

@Chuck(G)
The reason I say no ethernet is this machine is wifi-connected only. There is no ethernet port. I have an internet connection via my unsecured wireless network, I just need a floppy-installable linux distro with support for my Aeronet.

I do, however, think I have found the answer in five Debian 3.0 floppy-media install disks, which the two previous owners of this laptop told me DO work on it, so I shall be trying those.

Thanks for the help, though!

carlsson
November 28th, 2010, 07:13 AM
Have you considered Damn Small Linux (DSL), Puppy Linux/Puppy Lucid or any of the other distributions specifically aimed at lower-end computers?

ahm
November 28th, 2010, 08:13 AM
OpenBSD can be installed from floppy, and supports wifi.
Whether it supports wifi during the install is unclear.
I look forward to your results.
http://openbsd.net/faq/faq4.html

Mike Chambers
November 29th, 2010, 01:24 PM
i run Debian 2.1 "Potato" on my IBM PS/2 Model 80 which is a 386DX/25 (or 20? forget.) with a paltry 16 MB of RAM. it runs very well. without X, obviously. it runs apache, even. no PHP though. :D