[sf-lug] thinkpad

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 22 12:19:29 PDT 2007

Quoting Alex Kleider (a_kleider at yahoo.com):

> I've got DSL (Damn Small Linux) running on the think pad.
> fdisk didn't work because I didn't realize that I was not root by
> default!!!!!!! (what a dolt I am)
> Everything loaded as per the instructions on the web site you gave me.
> So my goal of getting a functioning linux system has been achieved.
> It is still of interest to me as to whether the 2.6 kernel is really
> incompatible with this processor: ?PII/366? 

I was attempting to _figure out_ from your posted information what
specific model you have, and therefore what CPU, but that was only a
surmise.  I actually had a bit of a difficult time, because what you
posted, "i Series Type 2611 IBM ThinkPad", is not actually a valid IBM
model designation at all -- as I said.  So, I _inferred_ that you meant
machine type 2611, which would have made it a ThinkPad 1400, and thus an
approximately 366 MHz Pentium II.  

However, that conclusion derived from a chain of assumptions, based on
the somewhat tantalisingly incomplete and doubtful information you
provided.  Rule of thumb:  If you hear the people you're trying to
consult saying things like "You mean IBM machine type 2611?", or "I
infer" or "I would guess", then you should make sure you're providing
them with reliable and sufficient information.

In this case, you could have read the exact product information directly
from the laptop, and posted it.  Since you didn't, I had to go with my
_guess_ that you meant machine type 2611, and my inference that it was
therefore a ThinkPad 1400 with a PII.

Surprise (not)!  It turns out that, apparently, the conclusion was

You can get the correct processor ID from either early in "dmesg | more"
or by looking at the first seven or so lines of /proc/cpuinfo, which on
a PIII box are like this:

processor       : 0
vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 7
model name      : Pentium III (Katmai)
stepping        : 2
cpu MHz         : 498.754

> By the way: the hard drive is less than 3G, not 30.

See, that's about the size of HD shipped by default on late Pentium
(pre-PPro) systems.

> uname reports i586 unknown (machine and processor respectively I
> think.)

No, it doesn't.  "uname" has no direct knowledge of the CPU, though some
options (such as "uname -p") apparently try to parse information out of
/proc/cpuinfo.  But, really, just have a look at /proc/cpuinfo.

In general, you want to provide diagnosticians with _raw data_, and
carefully avoid providing your interpretations of data (like "i Series
Type 2611 IBM ThinkPad", instead.  This is one of the many points I
tried to make in a (verbose, not wholly successful) essay on problem-solving 
I once co-wrote: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

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