Test bed: Gateway Solo 2150

Here’s the test machine du jour in action.

System: Host: solo-2150 Kernel: 3.6.8-1-ARCH i686 (32 bit, gcc: 4.7.2) Console: tty 10 Distro: Arch Linux
Machine: Mobo: Gateway model: Solo 2150 version: Rev 1.0 Bios: Gateway version: 17.50 date: 01/21/2000
CPU: Single core Celeron (Coppermine) (-UP-) cache: 128 KB flags: (sse) bmips: 1002.05 clocked at 501.145 MHz
Graphics: Card: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI Rage Mobility P/M AGP 2x bus-ID: 01:00.0 chip-ID: 1002:4c4d
X-Vendor: N/A driver: tty size: 146x26 Advanced Data: N/A out of X
Audio: Card: Creative Labs Ectiva EV1938 driver: snd_ens1371 ports: 10c0 1080 bus-ID: 00:09.0 chip-ID: 1102:8938
Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture ver: 1.0.25
WAN IP: None Detected! IF: eth0 ip: ip-v6: fe80::2a0:b0ff:fe2c:631d
Drives: HDD Total Size: 12.1GB (33.1% used)
1: id: /dev/sda model: TOSHIBA_MK1214GA size: 12.1GB serial: 60C95063T
Optical: /dev/sr0 model: N/A rev: N/A dev-links: cdrom
Features: speed: 24x multisession: yes audio: yes dvd: yes rw: none state: N/A
Partition: ID: / size: 7.6G used: 1.4G (18%) fs: ext2 dev: /dev/sda3
ID: /home size: 3.3G used: 2.4G (74%) fs: ext2 dev: /dev/sda4
ID: /boot size: 92M used: 29M (32%) fs: ext2 dev: /dev/sda1
ID: swap-1 size: 0.25GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda2
Unmounted: ID: /dev/sr0 size: 1.07G label: N/A uuid: N/A
ID: /dev/fd0 size: 0.00G label: N/A uuid: N/A
Info: Processes: 69 Uptime: 4:00 Memory: 56.4/277.9MB Runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: 4.7.2 Client: Shell (bash) inxi: 1.8.23

2012-12-06-solo-2150That’s the insides. But the outsides are another reason I picked it out, for a lowly $15 (plus or minus). The physical condition is impeccable, with no scratches and only a few odd spots of grime that washed away without any effort.

Nothing is perfect though. There are a few shortcomings, some of which are internal and problematic.

For one, there seems to be some inconsistencies between the Rage Mobility card, and the available drivers for mach64-based cards. I put Xorg et al. in place, but the available drivers — and a few that were self-built — worked only in part.

Closest was a working desktop that started up fine, but crashed back to the terminal as soon as any graphic element moved … like the mouse pointer. 😐

Apparently this BIOS also has problems too. The kernel spits out a warning message on every boot, about ACPI errors that can’t be worked around. That also alienates the built-in network jack and USB hub. Neither one can be detected by the kernel, and don’t respond to my efforts to prod them. (Note, 2013-01-31: the USB and ports were restored with an obscure BIOS setting; the network plug may have life in it but the kernel can’t sense it and I find no documentation or drivers to reveal its innards.)

All of those things can be comfortably worked around though, and with no major heartache. I have plenty of leftover PCMCIA network and USB cards, some of which accrued even when I thought I was out of the ancient laptop game.

And videowise, there’s little I could expect to do with a Rage Mobility that isn’t just as accessible through the framebuffer or just the vesa driver. So I lose a meager shred of 3D acceleration? Oh well.

Best of all? Well, best of all … I can’t say that it’s fanless, but I have yet to hear it turn on. Many times I’ve wished back to the late 1990s for a computer that could run silent. This might be as close as I get. 🙂

32 thoughts on “Test bed: Gateway Solo 2150

  1. Perry

    Glad to see you back in the game. This is just the kind of stuff I’ve been missing for… well… about a year and a half, now. 🙂

  2. thealphanerd

    No wonder for GPU – I have a Rage Pro in my P3 box (snappy as a C# dev box) – 2D works fine, (but slowly, if redrawing big stuff) although I’m pushing it to its very limits at 1680×1050. No 3D unless you’re on Arch – I’ve always been a Debian guy. Still, Rage series have the best historical support I find. Little problems.

    For PCMCIA networking for my ThinkPad 701cs, (coolest thinkpad btw) I have a Linksys PCM100. I have a 3com one, but it’s dongle is missing, making it a light paperweight.

    Old BIOSes, I hate. I have a faster P3 than my current (a 50 Mhz difference!) but it BIOS sucks a bag of long things.

  3. Seth

    It is darn good to see you back in action! I would not have known about htop, tmux, vifm, LXDE, alsaequal, nethack, cmatrix, fbgrab, fim, and moc if it weren’t for you. Keep up the good work, I will be following this blog quite closely.

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  5. valkaiser

    It’s great to see you again! I read your old blog religiously (but never posted).

    I have a few Latitude CPt V laptops that are quite similar to this (including the ATI Rage Mobility card). Getting 3D accelerated Xorg set up was a big pain, but I did get it running with Arch. The main problem it had for me was the inability to switch VTs once Xorg was up (I seem to recall that even if I quit Xorg, the VTs would still be broken…). Of course the 3D wasn’t worth much 😛

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      On this end, it was definitely some sort of X error that was triggered when the mouse cursor moved. I know that’s really vague, but I can’t test it much more than the time it takes to brush the keyboad with my palm.

      I might reinstall X and use the vesa driver just to see if things are still working visually and to have a little fun with Musca. Other than that though, I’m content to live at the framebuffer. …

      1. valkaiser

        I hear ya. I just pulled out my system and played around with it a bit. Unfortunately I don’t have any installs left with working 3D (frittered away HD space with dumb stuff instead of backup images…). I hope you at least got the accelerated framebuffer running, because vesa was scrolling terrible slow for me. The 2D X driver at least had near instant page scrolls in xterm. I remember atyfb doing better than vesa, but it’s giving me fits again, so I was unable to test.

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  24. WARvault

    Good sir, welcome back!
    No ghetto SSD for this machine? Will a post be forth coming regarding the long-long-long term usage of IDE-SD interfaces?

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      No, this one had a rather narrow and confined drive bay that made it difficult to connect. I tried, but there was little space to insert a CF card, and I worried I couldn’t get it out again.

      I might take a crack at a similar setup in the future, but time is short these days … for reasons which will become public in the near future. … 😉

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