Toshiba Tecra A5

Preamble

An old Pentium M 1.73 GHz Laptop, for 500 baht. 500 MB of RAM, 60 GB hard disk.

Links

Useful

Thai

MalwareBytes on 32 bit machines

Method

My usual go-to Ubuntu boot drive didn’t work as the processor is i686, the laptop is that old..!

Kernel requires an x86-64 CPU, but only detected an i686 CPU. How can I install Lubuntu/Ubuntu?

Lubunutu 32-bit required. Following this guide: How to: Create an Ubuntu Bootable USB on Mac, Windows or Ubuntu. I got 18.04.5 Bionic Beaver LTS (LXDE).

Using Balena Etcha, on OS X, four USB sticks gave me a validation error, checksum incorrect:

One stick failed to reach the partition section of the installer. Another reached the partitioning, but then hung during formatting/partitioning. The third started to install (Basic OS only, and no WiFi) but then crashed halfway through.

So I used Ubuntu’s StartupDisk Creator, using an alternate ISO (for low memory), lubuntu-18.04-alternate-i386.iso. I still didn’t have much joy. One stick’s installer went into text mode (because it is the alternate installer) and the other refused to boot.

Power requirements

From Icecat

Power
AC adapter power: 75 W
AC adapter output current: 5 A
AC adapter output voltage: 15 V

This NEC adapter maybe the wrong brand, but the voltage and current are correct and it works fine:

 

Memory

From Crucial and NewEgg

  • Maximum RAM: 2 GB (2 x 1 GB)
  • RAM Type: DDR-333 PC-2700

Anti Virus scan from Linux

See ClamAV

Very slow performance

The Firefox provided with Lubuntu is the really bad application that is slowing down the system, when it is open whilst other applications are running. I wondered why Win XP ran reasonably quickly whereas Lubuntu is a slug. This dreaded Quora page, What is the best Linux distribution that would work faster than Windows XP on a very old PC with very limited resources?, recommends:

LUbuntu

  • Works OK with 0.5G Ram, except for the Internet browser.
  • The Internet browser is Firefox, which is a real resource hog. Firefox should be replaced with a lightweight browser like Midori, or QupZilla.
  • “sudo apt-get install qupzilla” should do the trick!

Puppy Linux

  • Works OK with 0.5G of Ram.
  • The Internet browser is Pale-Moon, which is light weight and based on a fork of Firefox.

Links: How to Install Pale Moon Browser on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

 

also

I am curently writing this on a Laptop from 2009 where I installed Linux Mint Debian based. I used OpenBox as Windowmanager and tint2 as taskbar.
Runs faster than Windows Vista which was originally installed on it.

A library I frequently visit has wooden PCs (well, Pentium IVs with IIRC 512MB RAM) with a similar configuration, although they stripped down the list of daemons and other startup programs to a bare minimum.

In either case everything runs smoothly.

As for the applications that will run on this PC, make sure to throw out memory hogs like firefox or chrome, or at least limit their usage as much as possible.
Some ways to do this are:

  • Install Adblock Edge (not Adblock plus as it does not block all ads)
  • Install NoScript and only allow scripts when a website is otherwise unusuable
  • Install flashblock
  • Avoid all sites that relies too heavily on JavaScript (sadly Quora is a big offender here, even though most scripts actually serve a purpose and are not for spying on users and their behaviour)
  • Even better get a browser that is specialized for low memory footprint

Link: Why do Linux much heavier than Windows XP?

It would struggle to run Windows 7 with just 500 MB of RAM, see Wndows 7 on Pentium M?

So, what can you do with such an old laptop? Well, it could be used for Word Processing (LibreOffice), Watching low resolution movies (VLC), limited image manipulation (Gimp), but not much else.

You could use the laptop as a firewall (FloppyFW), or as a Bridge/Gateway (FreeSCO)

Windows XP

Windows XP drivers for Tecra A5

XP Drivers for the Toshiba Tecra A5 can be found on the Toshiba site, which now re-directs to Dynabook.

  • Wi-Fi driver: sm40inwlanx.exe: Intel 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • Fn keys driver: sm50thotkey.exe (5.89M): Toshiba Hotkey Utility for Windows XP

Full list:

  • ta5videonx.exe (23.51M): nVidia Display Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • batterycheck4_en.exe (412K): Toshiba BatteryCheck4 Utility for Windows XP/Vista
  • batterycheck4_sp.exe (223K): Utilidad de BatteryCheck 4 Toshiba para Windows XP/Vista
  • sm50thotkey.exe (5.89M): Toshiba Hotkey Utility for Windows XP
  • sm50videoix.exe (5.82M): Intel 910GML Graphics Display Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50videoax.exe (22.93M): ATI Radeon Display Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50fnesse.exe (940K): Toshiba Fn-esse Utility for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50tpenable.ex… (5.83M): Touch Pad Enable/Disable Utility for Windows XP
  •  sm50tpsx.exe (11.71M): Toshiba Power Saver for Windows XP/2000
  • ta5suppass.exe (5.81M): Toshiba Supervisor Password Utility for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50thwsetup.ex… (5.49M): Toshiba Hardware Setup Utility for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50taccess.exe (5.29M): Toshiba Accessibility Utility for Windows XP
  • sm50flashx.exe (3.48M): Texas Instruments FlashMedia Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50tzoom.exe (5.61M): Toshiba Zooming Utility for Windows XP/2000
  • sa85tpadx.exe (2.45M): Alps Pointing Device Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • ta3firx.exe (3.0M): Toshiba Fast Infrared Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • sm65sdformat.ex… (2.26M): Toshiba SD Memory Card Format Utility for Windows XP/2000
  •  sm65btmon.exe (1021K): Bluetooth Monitor for MS Stack for Windows XP/2000
  •  tm4pcdiagx.exe (3.83M): Toshiba PC Diagnostic Tool for Windows XP/2000
  • sm40modemx.exe (1016K): Toshiba Software Modem Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • sr10prosetutil.exe (27.38M): Intel PROSET Utility (802.11 a, b, g) for Windows XP
  • tm4wlanutilax.exe (14.6M): Atheros Wireless (802.11 a+g/g) Client Utility for Windows XP/2000
  • ta5cfree.exe (13.64M): Config Free for Windows XP/2000
  • ta3chipx.exe (2.47M): Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility for Windows XP/2000
  • sm50lanx.exe (495K): Marvell LAN Driver for Windows XP
  • tm4wlanax.exe (2.78M): Atheros Mini PCI Wireless Lan (802.11 g/b) Driver for Windows XP
  •  sm40inwlanx.exe (2.03M): Intel 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • pm200sp2sdsecur… (2.12M): SD Secure Module for Windows XP SP2
  •  tm3tassist2.exe (1.29M): Toshiba Assist for Windows XP/2000
  • bt_40036t.exe (26.56M): Toshiba Bluetooth Stack for Windows XP/2000
  • pr200swupdates.exe (2.03M): Toshiba Software Upgrades for Windows XP
  • tbios26.exe (865K): Toshiba TBIOS Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • intel_wireless_105159_os2006207a.exe (51.01M): Intel(R) 802.11a/b/g,b/g Driver V10.5.1.59/V9.0.4.17 & PROSet V10.5.0.1
  • sr10pchealth.ex… (104K): Toshiba PC Health Customization for Windows XP
  • ta5v17.exe (2.5M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.70 for Tecra A5
  • ta5v12.exe (3.08M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.20 for Tecra A5/Satellite M50/M55
  • ta5v18.exe (2.44M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.80 for Tecra A5
  • ta5v15.exe (2.5M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.50 for Tecra A5
  • ta5v20.exe (3.09M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 2.00 for Tecra A5/Satellite M55
  •  ta5v21.exe (3.09M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 2.10 for Tecra A5/Satellite M55
  • ta5v11.exe (2.08M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.10 for Tecra A5 and Satellite M50/M55
  • ta5v19.exe (3.09M): ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.90 for Tecra A5
  • fw_to02_os2008108a.exe (1.29M): Toshiba (TSST) TS-L632* DVD Drive Firmware Update
  • ta5soundx.exe (12.57M): Realtek Audio Driver for Windows XP
  • ta5tcontrolsx.e… (6.4M): Toshiba Controls for Windows XP/2000
  • ta5tme3x.exe (1.84M): Toshiba Mobile Extension 3 for Windows XP
  • ta5uguide.exe (4.1M): Toshiba Online User’s Guide for Tecra A5
  •  ts2sddriver2.ex… (2.55M): SD Host Controller Driver for Windows XP/2000
  • PMA500164010_web (64K): Toshiba Addendum for Creating Backup/Recovery Media
  • pr200atclientx.exe. (14.75M): Atheros Wi-Fi Client Utility (802.11b/g) for Windows XP/2000
  • sr10silence.exe (1.22M): CD/DVD Drive Acoustic Silencer for Windows XP/2000
  • sm40dvdram.exe (63.54M): DVD RAM Driver Software for Windows XP/2000
  •  ta4tmcx.exe (6.51M): Toshiba Management Console for Windows XP/2000

Thai language Pack for Windows XP

From Microsoft Update Catalogue 

Update for Windows XP SP2 Thai Language Interface Pack (KB883921)

However, you can not change between languages, it is either English or Thai. If you have the Thai interface, then in order to revert back to English, you must uninstall the Language Interface Pack, see Change Thai Language Interface To English.

Also, this will not install upon Windows XP SP3, as it is a SP2 Language Pack. Again, poor M$ workmanship.

There is no Language Pack for SP3. It would seem that you have to install SP2 and then the language pack and then upgrade to SP3.

Lost GRUB

After installing Windows XP I lost my GRUB menu (also in the Windows boot menu I had two Windows XP to choose from (interesting)).

I could try to use the Live Lubuntu USB (the alternate ISO has no live CD), but as that installer crashed (due to the low spec/memory), I don’t know if it would work.

However, the best (laziest?) method to re-install GRUB is provided by this answer to How to install GRUB from inside Windows 7:

  1. Boot into Windows
  2. Use Easy BCD to add a new GRUB, which will allow you to access the old Lubuntu
  3. Now boot into Lubuntu.
  4. Now reinstall GRUB to get back your previous old GRUB menu (see below)
  5. Now boot back into Windows (via the new GRUB and then the old GRUB menus)
  6. Use EasyBCD to remove the new GRUB

Reinstall GRUB, from within Linux, using:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair

EasyBCD from Neosoft, you seem to need to pay or register, so download from MajorGeeks – EasyBCD 2.4 (direct download).


As an aside, this site is laughable: restore Grub 2 after reinstalling Windows XP/Vista/Win7. It looks like it was written with Google Translate. In addition, if you are unable to boot into Linux, because you have lost GRUB, how on earth are you meant to execute GRUB commands, if you can use an Ubuntu LiveCD?


I found that once in XP and running EasyBCD, this error was given upon startup:

and no boot entries (there was no boot menu to edit):

This answer to No boot menu for Windows XP or Windows 7 may hold the solution… However, in the end I just reinstalled everything in this order: XP, 7, Lubuntu.

AntiVirus and Malware

Malware bytes will not run on 32 bit systems (apparently), so use MBar (from this MalwareBytes thread, MBSetup.exe is not a valid Win32 application.).

Display Issues

Display goes white after about 10 minutes working, I saw this happen twice today. It begins as a small green area at the bottom center of the screen, and quickly (all within five seconds) grows to fill the screen and then turns white. Seems like a graphics card problem… I saw this happen on Lubuntu too, once only. On XP SP3 it does it frequently. Three reasons:

  1. Bad connector
  2. Bad graphics chip
  3. Bad screen
  4. It could also be (maybe) a driver problem, i.e. missing driver.

Possible fix: http://www.laptoprepair101.com/laptop-lcd-screen-turned-white/

Maybe a driver is needed – there is an nVidia driver, ta5videonx.exe, on the Toshiba drivers site. However, the nVidia installer said that no suitable hardware was available. Strangely, the white screen issue never re-occurred that day.

Windows 7

Windows 7 Ultimate SP 1 64 bit would not work on this Tecra A5, it required a 32 bit install disk.

There was no Wi-Fi upon installing Windows 7 Ultimate SP 1 32 bit. I tried using the XP driver, sm40inwlanx.exe, but didn’t work. Message was not valid application for this system, and then the “Did this application install correctly?” dialog. Then hit the retry with recommended settings, and it actually ran, and thought about things for a while, but then didn’t seem to install. It may have crashed, as the application just vanished, without an error or successful message…

Nevertheless, Windows Update eventually provided the Wi-Fi driver, although I had to use my TL-WN722N to get that far.

I wanted to change the boot menu from Previous versions of Windows to “Windows XP”. This answer to No boot menu for Windows XP or Windows 7, shows how to change the default OS, but not how to change the text in the menu. This post on Windows 7: Renaming “Earlier version of windows” in dual boot:

Type “bcdedit /export C:\SAVEDBCD”, this will save you the initial copy on the C: drive at the root.

Now I am going to give you a copy of the changes I make.

Code:
bcdedit /set {ntldr} description "LastXP & WinXP x64"

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} timeout "10"

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} displayorder {ntldr} {current}

bcdedit /set {bootmgr} default {ntldr}

bcdedit /set {current} description "Win 7 x64"

A couple of Quick answers.
{ntldr} is your “Earlier version of windows”
{ntldr} description “LastXP & WinXP x64” is the name, “LastXP & WinXP x64” is the names of My Earlier version of windows ( 2 of them), also, the quotes are only used in the naming settings, including the timeout settings.
{bootmgr} is the BOOT.ini replacement from Vista on up, (Win 7 & Server2008)
timeout “10”, is the time delay you get to select other than the main Highlited.
{current} description “Win 7 x64”, is the Win 7 version (or Vista or Server 2008, if you are using them during changes).

you can copy these to a Notepad page and save it as your “bcdedit mod.txt“, then you can make the name changes you like(“LastXP & WinXP x64” to “My Old XP”). Note* dont forget to use the ” ” quotes only in the naming.

For more info you can go here and read a lot more.

or just use EasyBCD (which is what I did).

I also found that the cloned Windows 7 installer had installed an additional Boot menu, which shows up prior to the standard Windows boot menu:

I also had a lot of issues with updates not installing, with the message of failed to install, and reverting changes, during the startup process (when updates are finalised (from 30% to 100%)). The 100% would show briefly and then the message “Failure configuring Windows updates Reverting changes . Don not turn off your computer.” (note the poor punctuation and grammar – typical of shoddy M$ handiwork):

In particular the 2021-02 security rollup and the 2021-02 .NET rollup. I had to hide these two:

 

“2021-01 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7 for x86-based Systems (KB4508279)” seemed install correctly though. The Internet Explorer 11 Language Pack for Windows 7 was installed two or three times as well and this seemed to get rolled back at reboot as well.

These rollbacks may have been happening for a while, as they show up as successful, when in fact they are not. To check, one can look at the installed updates (rather than the update history):

The easiest way to see if an update is refusing to install is to review the Update History and see which updates are installed repeatedly. These are:

  • 2021-02 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7 for x86-based Systems (KB4601347)
  • 2021-02 Security and Quality Rollup for .NET framework 3.5.1, 4.5.2, 4.6, 4.6.1, 4.6.2, 4.7, 4.7…
  • Internet Explorer 11 Language Pack for Windows 7

However, looking at the Installed updates, these would appear to have not been installed, when in fact, actually they have, they are just named only by the KB article number (KB#####), and not the full name:

  • 2021-01 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7 for x86-based Systems (KB4508279)

Conclusion

To be honest, the only OS that ran at a fair speed was either XP, or Lubuntu (which seemed a little slower). Windows 7 was virtually unusable.

Messing about with GRUB

Default (and Saved) entry

Copy the menuitem for Windows using single quotes not double), from /boot/grub/grub.cfg to the GRUB_DEFAULT entry in /etc/default/grub, i.e.

GRUB_DEFAULT='Windows 7 (on /dev/sda1)'

then

sudo update-grub

Done!

Running Lubuntu in console mode only

One option, to bump up the speed, could be to run Lubuntu in console mode only:

  1. First thing that you need is the already generated menuentry for your latest kernel. We are going to copy and use it as basis for our custom menuentry, with a little alteration. For that, you need to look in your /boot/grub/grub.cfg file. Locate the first menuentry stanza that points to the latest kernel on your Ubuntu. If you’re dual booting with other linux distro’s, pay extra attention so you wouldn’t mix it up with their menuentries
  2. Once you found it, copy the entire menuentry stanza and paste it into /etc/grub.d/40_custom file. It may look like one below. Let’s use this as example
    menuentry 'Ubuntu' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os $menuentry_id_option 'gnulinux-simple-a4e6d610-122e-42e2-8497-39eae02816e8' {
    recordfail
    load_video
    gfxmode $linux_gfx_mode
    insmod gzio
    insmod part_gpt
    insmod ext2
    set root='hd0,gpt2'
    if [ x$feature_platform_search_hint = xy ]; then
      search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root --hint-bios=hd0,gpt2 --hint-efi=hd0,gpt2 --hint-baremetal=ahci0,gpt2  a4e6d610-122e-42e2-8497-39eae02816e8
    else
      search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root a4e6d610-122e-42e2-8497-39eae02816e8
    fi
    linux   /boot/vmlinuz-3.8.0-31-generic root=UUID=a4e6d610-122e-42e2-8497-39eae02816e8 ro   quiet splash $vt_handoff
    initrd  /boot/initrd.img-3.8.0-31-generic
    }
  3. Now here’s few things that you need to edit in this stanza before you can save the file:
    • The menuentry title. Change ‘Ubuntu’ in menuentry line to ‘Ubuntu (text mode)’
    • Path to vmlinuz file in linux line. Substitute /boot/vmlinuz-3.8.0-31-generic with /vmlinuz grub boot parameter at the end of linux line. Substitute quiet splash with text
    • Path to initrd image in initrd line. Substitute /boot/initrd.img-3.8.0-31-generic with /initrd.img
  4. Reason why we do the substitutions in both vmlinuz and initrd lines is to take advantages of the symlinks placed in / which points to their latest version in /boot dir so that our custom menuentry can always point to the most recent kernel and won’t need to be changed if a new kernel is introduced.
  5. That’s it. Execute sudo update-grub to generate the custom menu and you’re done

I did this, but I still ended up in graphical mode.

See this answer to Add GRUB menu item to boot into terminal, which seems to work for later versions of Linux:

The difference between this approach and this answer to a very similar question is that in recent versions of Ubuntu the line

linux   /boot/vmlinuz-3.8.0-31-generic root=UUID=... ro quiet splash $vt_handoff

needs to be replaced with

linux   /vmlinuz root=UUID=... systemd.unit=multi-user.target ro

I’m not sure what recent actually means but I guess it’s 16.04 when systemd was introduced.

This worked fine. However, I noticed that thai character (i.e. filenames containing Thai characters did not show up correctly, they were shown as blue diamonds.

See 3. Applications with Thai language, which suggests using txterm.

I found that Synpatics installed xiterm+thai, but that still did not display Thai characters in an ls correctly (each character was shown as \0123\0435 etc.):

[photo – I didn’t get a chance to grab a screenshot]

Similar to (but not the same as) this (original image, from Ubuntu shows incorrect Thai language with ‘ls’ command)

However, xiterm+thai states

xiterm+thai is an X terminal emulator program with Thai language support. It has built-in Thai keyboard input support. You could also use the X11 XKB extension to input Thai characters. A Thai TIS-620 font, such as one from xfonts-thai-nectec is needed to display Thai characters.

After installing xiterm+thai and various xfonts-thai-* and other (but not all) Thai packages, the unicodes were still shown…

until the software updater ran and installed 403 MB of updates. Upon reboot the Thai characters displayed in the terminals. However, xiterm (ironically) did not display them as well:

as LXTerminal managed to:

However, according to a Thai user, this was fine.

Next selecting the Thai UI interface, this was simple enough, after adding the appropriate packages:

Adding Thai input, I installed iBus and SCIM. Configuring iBus (using application xxx) added two language options in the system bar, but no Thai characters were typed. Later using fcitx didn’t add much (see this post to How do I get ibus working?).

[photos?]

Adding keyboard, right click on system bar and open Keyboard Layout Handler, see Add or change keyboard layout on Lubuntu 16.04.

Brightness control in Lubuntu

From this answer to Ubuntu 20.04 brightness adjust not working, Ctrl+Alt+F6 and F7 change the brightness. Or Where do I find display brightness controls in Lubuntu?

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