The ThinkPad R51 Mandrake Experience – Part 2


First let me start off by saying, Thank You to all who have read Part 1 and visited my websites since the time of publish! School has me busy and stressed over finals, I haven’t been able to work on much and the blog included. However I do have a break coming up, so I should be able to write more posts :smiling:.

WiFi Chip Pain

Before my friend shipped me the ThinkPad the WiFi chip was replace with a 5Ghz Intel 4965agn. The issue with this is that IBM like all other laptop OEMs at that time enforces restrictions on which specific chips you can use in their laptops. Simply put, the ThinkPad will NOT boot at all when the incorrect WiFi chips is inserted. Luckily there is a hacky way to bypass this restriction by writing to a BIOS variable stored in CMOS from Linux. You can find instructions here. After booting into Linux without the chip inserted you can compile and run this program and break free from IBM’s shackles. I only needed to do this again because I was stupid and let the battery run dry.

MultiMedia Playback

Since I’ll be using this laptop for a week I need to find a way to play my music obviously. After some scouring on Google I found some old repositories and took the liberty to mirror them. You can find the mirror here. I have also mirrored other repositories such as the PLF repos, you can find them in the root websites directory. I installed xmms + the flac plugin and was up in running in about 5 minutes. I usually use a media server to stream my music but the old browser cannot handle it. I rsync’d my whole library onto a flash drive and all was well.


In order to be able to talk to my friend and share my pain, I needed a way to speak to him without using my phone or other devices. I decided to find something age appropriate, 2 programs fit this bill. Mumble and Teamspeak, I had used Mumble before so I decided on Teamspeak for the sake of trying something new. Using the Wayback Machine I was able to download the old Linux server and client binaries. Having that old piece of software running on my modern server probably wasn’t such a good idea security wise but I had to do what I had to do (it’s no longer up don’t bother). Setting it up was rather easy, just port forward its ports and edit the self-explanatory configuration file and done! We had some troubling connecting to it but it turned out to be firewall issues. Speaking to each other with potato microphones and in 64kbps was great.


At the end of week we were freed from 2006 and were able to use our main machines again. I honestly loved every bit of time traveling back into 2006 except for the weight of the machine. This things a brick, my friend on the other hand complained every day about something new. I, however do not recommend this to anyone because of the browser situation and many other factors that will require you to be content with limited internet connectivity.

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