Laptops for DosBox testing

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Laptops for DosBox testing

Postby DosFreak » 2006-4-29 @ 15:03

So I started this new job about 2 months ago. (I'm a network admin so I do everthing a network admin would do from helpdesk to servers.).

Anyways there are dozens of old and broken laptops just laying around.....So I start digging around and what do I see? Three IBM laptops! A P1, a P2, and a P3!

Now all of the P3's are still usable by customers so I'm not sure I can take the P3 home (It's only a P3 500 so I'm sure I can convince him :) ), but I do know for sure that the P1 and the P2 are mine! All mine! Muahahhaa.......ahem.

Anyways, I brought the IBM Thinkpad 760xl home with me last night and plan to play with it over the weekend.


IBM Thinkpad 760XL

Processor: Pentium 166mhz
RAM: 64mb
Video Card: Trident 9685 PCI
Hard Drive: 2.1GB
NIC: Xircom CardBus Ethernet II 10/100
Sound: ESS1688 AudioDrive
USB: PCMCIA USB2 Controller.

Some problems I've had to overcome....

When I found this thing at work I booted it up I noticed it had 64mb! Holy crap! That was one of the most suprising things about it.

It already had Windows 98 installed but being a person who likes a clean machine I just had to wipe it.....unfortunately.....

The machine has a dock connector, a network card, and a floppy drive. That's it! I don't have the dock, and I don't have a PCMCIA CDROM drive either. So how the heck was I going to install Windows 98?

I tried a DOS boot disk with the XIRCOM network drivers loaded and it should have worked but I was never able to get it to work. (When I later got Windows 98 installed and installed the Thinkpad Utilities and enabled Carbus I got the card to work in Windows....mabye something similar needs to be done with DOS?)

If I had an LPT/Serial port on this thing I could have used laplink but of course those ports are only on the dock.

I also tried the PCMCIA USB controller with DOS USB drivers but that didn't work either because probably for the same reason the Xircom card didn't work. I probably need to enable CardBus.

So my only option left was to use a floppy. Great, like I'm going to transfer Windows 98 to this laptop using floppies. NO WAY!

Finally, a bright idea hit me. I took the hard drive out of the laptop and stuck it in the other IBM P2, I then loaded up the Ultimate Boot CD, partitioned and formatted the drive (One 1500mb partition and a 500mb partition), I then stuck Windows 98 on the second partition and made the HD bootable.

Then I stuck the HD back in the original laptop and installed Windows 98! YAY!

I finally got the network card working last night by enabling CardBus and started transferring files but it would be nice if I could get the USB card working. The card shows up in Device Manager just fine but it's not recognizing anything I connect to it (LAN/USB/whatever), nothing happens.

Some questions:

Anyone familiar with the ESS 1688? I loaded up Duke3d and was able to choose SoundBlaser and Adlib and the SFX/Music effects were working just fine and sounded pretty good.

How good is the Trident video card for compatibility? So far I just loaded up Duke3D in 640x480 and it ran pretty well (slightly faster than DosBox on my machine.)

The plan with this laptop is to actually use an old machine for compatibility testing instead of NTVDM/VPC/Vmware/DosEmu/Bochs.

I didn't bring the P2 home with me this weekend and I don't have the specs so I'll post those once I get back to work.
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Re: Laptops for DosBox testing

Postby 5u3 » 2006-4-30 @ 00:58

Looks like a very capable notebook for DOS gaming :happy:

According to this site, the ESS 1688 should be compatible with SoundBlaster (check out the FAQ section). A couple of newer DOS games support the chip directly (for 16bit sound).

I don't know the Trident 9685, but I reckon it's a low-power version of the TGUI 9680, or at least very similar to it. VGA and VESA compatibility should be okay. You might gain some speed in high-res games by using UNIVBE.

The harddrive-swapping trick is one I often performed on the laptops at work, but mainly for recovering data from dying drives. In these cases I used a nifty 40pin-to-44pin IDE adapter designed to connect laptop drives to desktop controllers :happyhappy:
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Re: Laptops for DosBox testing

Postby DosFreak » 2006-4-30 @ 01:43

I don't know the Trident 9685, but I reckon it's a low-power version of the TGUI 9680, or at least very similar to it. VGA and VESA compatibility should be okay. You might gain some speed in high-res games by using UNIVBE

I've mostly been playing around with the PCMCIA slots today trying to get USB and a newer network card working. No go. :( but I did do some quick benchmarks with Duke3D and noticed some things.


Athlon XP 2800+

heh. So it looks like for Build engine games in DosBox using an XP 2800+ that I'm getting the speed of a P90. Not too bad. It sounds about right too since I've always stated that the speed I'm getting in Duke3D in DosBox is similar to the speed of my 486DX4/100 (except with DosBox it's still a little bit slower when you account for sound quality).

It also looks like the native res of the LCD is 800x600 so it's not too bad.

As for the HD swap trick......I'm thinking of trying to find the dock for this laptop but it depends on how much it'll cost. I'm really only going to use this laptop for desktop purposes, (I'm not going to be carrying this laptop around), and assuming the network card continues to work and that I can get that IBM Pentium 2 for free then I probably won't need the dock....mabye I'll get one of those 40 to 44pin adapters...

Speaking of that the HD in this laptop is a POS. I can already tell that performance will be increased significantly with a better HD. There's a "bad" 40gb 2.5" HD at work I'm going to try next week. Probably going to stick that in and see how bad it really is. Hopefully it's just a bad sector or two....because I really don't see myself dishing out $$$ for a new HD for this laptop..

The battery in this laptop is dead so I can't flash the bios (Stupid flash program requires battery backup....amazing since no desktop PC requires such a feature), according to some sites the problems with USB PCMCIA cards can be solved with a bios flash.
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