Toshiba (?)


The ‘toshiba’ is a 310CDS from way back in 1998/1997. Originally purchased in Japan, it still goes well, although it is in need of a clean.

I kind of wish it was a slightly better system. The RAM is EDO, not SDRAM (which I can still easily get). The screen technology is the ‘cheaper’ version, with extensive ghosting issues. There is only a single USB 1.0 port.

On the other hand, it works perfectly, and is quite a lot faster with the second hand (E)IDE disk drive. Perhaps I don’t have it so bad after all. After all, the lack of RAM could constitute a challenge, and the ghosting is not that bad…

Grey and square

Frontal view


The battery is in fairly good condition, which helps. Apparently, according to the spec sheet, it should last over 3 hours. With power saving features turned off and Linux idling from a Live CD, it only managed 2 (only!). For a 16 year old computer, not bad…

The original plan was to install Arch Linux, but I’ve given up on that. Now, my aims have changed: build a custom lightweight distro, with the aim of learning how Linux distros really work. In the end, it probably means writing nearly everything from scratch – crazy, I know, but it fits with one of my long term ambitions: creating an OS – from scratch. With the help of others, of course. Or at least as many as I can convince.

How realistic this is, I’m not sure, but I’ll have to prioritise. I’ve been fiddling around, and I think I have a half-decent base system coming together – although some tweaks are still required.

I’ve had some troubles trying to install any form of Linux. Most of the time, the live CD refuses to boot as it runs out of space for the initramfs, and falls over shortly afterwards with a kernel panic. The only live CD that works in my collection is the old LFS live CD.

Currently, it is running a custom variant of Sabotage Linux.

I’ve looked at upgrading the RAM from 32MB to 160MB, or less, but finding EDO RAM at reasonable prices is challenging. A possible donor from a similar era, an Acer Travelmate 202T with a dead battery, dead CMOS battery, and cracked case, had a SODIMM of the correct size. Unfortunately, it was SDRAM, not EDO, and was not recognized by the computer. Although only 2-3 years older, technology had marched on…

I also looked at upgrading the screen, but the connector differs from the donor Acer Travelmate 202T. I do not have sufficient electrical knowledge to even attempt a connector swap! It appears that the Acer is (again) slightly too modern, although the screen connection could well be a manufacturer specific detail.




My progress

  • Experimenting with Linux in general
  • Possibly also actually using it for what it was built for: emails, internet, …


  • 32MB of EDO RAM (builtin)
  • RAM expansion slot (EDO RAM, 60ns, 144 pin SODIMM, max 128MB – nothing in here at the moment as EDO RAM is hard to find)
  • 40GB HDD (originally a very slow 2GB (E)IDE drive)
  • 12.1″ CSTN screen. One of the components I really wish was better…
  • 2MB of video RAM with a basic video accelerator chip – a CT65555.
  • VGA out 🙂
  • Parallel port (DE-25), serial port (DB-9), and PS/2!
  • CDROM drive (ATAPI), floppy disk drive…
  • Pentium, with MMX extensions, at 200MHz. Sadly not quite a Pentium Pro, so incapable of running most linux distros, which normally are compiled for i686 – Pentium Pro – or better. A Pentium with MMX is only an i586 processor…
  • 2x Cardbus slots
  • A USB 1.0 port!