My laptop’s working… sort of.

Last week I bought an old IBM Thinkpad A22M on eBay for $150. Damn good deal. It’s an older system, but $150… Seriously. 900MHz Pentium-III, 128MB RAM, 10GB Hard Drive, DVD drive…

So what’s the catch? No operating system installed. Like that’s an issue for an alpha geek like me, right?

So the thing arrives… and I can’t get it to even recognize there’s a disk in the drive, let alone boot from it so I can install Linux. (Mandriva Linux 2006, December 05 Club Edition, to be specific) I fought with this thing for about 15 minutes before I actually looked inside the drive itself… and noticed the cable connected to the drive head (the part with the laser on it) was severed. Whoops. Guess the guys selling the system didn’t realize that. All they did was turn it on and make sure it actually got past POST (that’s Power-On Self-Test for those of you among the great, unwashed masses). Can’t blame ’em – even I didn’t catch it for a while.

But no biggie. I ran over to my storage unit, where I had an old 386 laptop (ANCIENT TECHNOLOGY!! OOH!!) and some spare parts locked up. And, just like I thought, I had a CD-ROM drive that’d fit perfectly into the IBM Ultrabay. (No wonder it wouldn’t work on that old system when I got it god knows how many years ago… lol)

Boot up… and it recognizes the drive, but still won’t boot from the CD. Guess I got one of those older systems before that kind of thing became standard. So I tried boot floppies… only for the floppies to turn out to be corrupted (see? even those decay with age!).

I was starting to get frustrated. Then it dawned on me: I’ve still got an adapter from one of the external IDE hard drive bays I bought that’d let me connect a notebook hard drive into an IDE slot! I’m saved!

So I disconnect the hard drives from my desktop system, hook up the notebook drive via the adapter, boot up from the CD, and next thing you know, I’ve got a fresh install of Linux on my drive! Sweet!

Once I woke up the next morning (I kind of fell asleep while all the updates and stuff installed), I transferred the drive back into the laptop, and powered up. So far, so good. The change in hardware was detected and it switched over without problem… almost.

Everything works… except for about an inch of the screen is transplanted from the top to the bottom! I’ve been working on this all day and it’s still eluding me! I’ve seen forums where others have posted similar problems, but I’ve tried the solutions suggested in all of them with no success.

Argh! Well, worst case, I’ll have to get used to the mouse jumping from the top to the bottom of the screen whenever I stray too far north… but hopefully I’ll get this resolved soon.

And, in the end, it’s still a hell of a deal for $150!

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