Sunday, March 11, 2007

Adventures from State Surplus - Compaq IPaq C500

On yet another trip to ye olde State Surplus Property of ND I found a rack full of these IPaqPC's. Little PIII C500 500's w 256MB of RAM. These should make very nice media center machines.

But as usual there's a reason they're only $25. They don't have any removable media in them whatsoever, and won't boot from USB. I have a bunch of laptop DVD drives in a box on my back porch, but NOO! The CD bay they sport is a Compaq mainstay. Proprietary all the way. No one else on the planet would use a laptop removable drive bay slide-in system on a desktop PC based on a Firewire port replicator for the Armada line. But this is what they did.

Don't get me wrong, for $25 I guess this is about what you're gonna get. I just can't imagine anyone paying the $1100 these things must have cost back in 2002.

So I started trying to figure out how to take this sucker apart. Nope, can't do it without some special Compaq lug spacer plastic popper dohickey. I got the Compaq center pin torx kit for all the other crap they sell, but this thing is a beast! Oh well, plastic is as plastic does. "SNAP!" Wow, look at the guts.

Insert random DIMM here, look for cables there...

Luckily a standard IDE interface chip is cheaper than a locked out single so after slapping a two port IDE cable into this thing I can hang a standard DVD drive out the side to do a software load.

Windows XP Pro. It took it ok, I had another 256MB PC133 DIMM that I stuck into the other slot and XP does just fine with that much RAM.

$30 for a 21" CRT and $4 worth of keyboards and mice later I'm watching a DVD over the network in vlc. Smoothness.

After about a week of running in the basement for my basement dweller dude as a media center he FINALLY got around to installing three root kits and fifteen spyware programs. I told him pr0n would burn out the monitor, but he has no faith in me! Firefox with noscript wasn't even enough to save him!
I decided that I wasn't going to re-install this thing every week so basement dude can wack it to whatever so I roll out my buddy Fedora Core 6. I had installed this on my laptop porter a few weeks back and it liked that machine. There's no reason it won't work on this odd shaped box.

Running the install was fast and easy, every little thing that the machine comes with came right up in Linux. Unfortunately he also like to show off his I'm too sexy! by Right Said Fred on his webcam.

Of course, it's the only one that FC6 doesn't support out of the box. It's a SPCA50X based device, so I have to download an after market rpm that has it for the same minor number of the kernel. Copy to the correct location, depmod -a and a modprobe spca50x...

Viola! Look at that guy's nose hairs!

Now it's a amarok sporting, divx playing, kopete chatting, speed demon.

Well speed demon compared to how slow it was in XP Pro. Even with the eye candy on it's much more responsive, and the aforementioned fusesmb let's me just drop the whole network into a file system so he just has to remember what the share names are.

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