An aside about the Toshiba Libretto

Posted 2006.10.23 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

As I do my series of posts about Linux and the Libretto, I realize I might be making it sound like it’s some kind of modern marvel that I’m able to run a GUI linux distribution on such an ‘old’ and ‘slow’ computer.

I should point out that the only reason this seems like a big deal today, isn’t the fact that it is possible – it’s the fact that I’m getting it to work at speeds that aren’t too slow, compared to today’s machines.

My main machine is an iMac Core Duo, with two 1.83 GHz processors, 1.5GB of RAM, and 200MB of hard drive space. I run the machine with dual-heads, my main display is a 19″ DVI LCD, my secondary is the iMac’s 17″ widescreen LCD. This is what I’m used to now. Compare that to the Libretto’s 166MHz Pentium processor, 64MB of RAM, and 7″ mini SVGA display.

In the past though, when the Libretto was new and current, it was astounding. In fact, the Libretto was my main desktop workstation at the office. I have the full docking station, so I had a full size screen, keyboard and mouse, a 100BaseT ethernet card, printer and serial port, all set up at work. My Libretto fit in my purse, so when I got to work, I’d just set it in the docking station and turn it on. It auto-configured and ran like a full desktop system.

At the end of the day, I turned it off and slipped it in my purse, and took my whole ‘office’ with me! I could compute in restaurants, at home in the backyard, wherever. On the 6 GB hard drive, I had Windows 95 and RedHat Linux. In Linux, I kept a complete duplicate of our main file and program server from work. It was my development box for years. I would go to a friend’s cottage, and lay on the sofa and build applications for work.

We even used it as a portable fileserver, to do demos at client locations. I’d have an ethernet cable coming out of my purse, and the fileserver humming along in there. Back in the day, it was amazing.

After I dropped Windows completely and switched to Macintosh, I installed the X-windows gui on the Libretto, and ran it with that for a while. Eventually though it was just too slow and in those days, Linux was not as far along as it is now. So the Libretto was shelved for a while, then spent the past year at the office running a sad little DOS task that wasn’t Y2K compliant, so had to remain on an isolated computer with the date set wrong.

My wonderful Libretto 100
My wonderful Libretto, shown next to a soda can for scale.

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