It’s a new world out there

by hobbitalastair

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Toshiba is now in a working condition.

But working is not much good unless I can actually do something on it!

To me, the bare essentials for a computer are:

  • Python, and preferably some other programming languages
  • Git – for connections to Github and Bitbucket
  • Vim – my prefered text editor
  • Lynx – a lightweight web text based web browser, for finding the answer to those difficult problems
  • And some of the core UNIX tools – the tools I’d expect to find on any Linux, Mac, or BSD computer.

Obviously, an internet connection is required to use these tools – one of the things that just didn’t work in FreeBSD. I’ve opted for the tiny USB WIFI dongle I bought from Jaycar a while back – it’s less likely to break off compared to the longer Cisco dongle. However, unlike FreeBSD, Linux support for the rtl8192cu chipset is complete, and appears to work – even better :).

For me, getting the dongle to work was a learning curve, albeit a shallow one. Most of the time, adding support for hardware in a custom Linux kernel is a simple as enabling the option at compile time. However, it turns out that quite a few devices – including lots of Wifi chips – require extra firmware. I also needed to enable packet networking in the kernel.

Another slight hitch was that the standard ‘wext’ driver did not play nicely with the chip. However, ‘nl80211’ worked, and I now have a working internet connection!

Once I’d read up sufficiently on how to get a WIFI connection in Linux, I ended up with this: 

Not pretty, but functional

Lynx, viewing Bing

The last time that computer was connected to the internet would have been in the days of dial up, before the iMac – over 7 years ago. In that time, many things have changed…

I wonder what the internet will be like in 6, even 4 years’ time – over 20 years since the Toshiba was built? And will the Toshiba still be around, chugging away as ever?

We shall see…