Became a X41 owner, what to do?

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Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#1 Post by Norway Pad » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:26 am

I have had an ad on Norway's CraigsList equivalent out for a long time, looking for legacy 7xx and 3xx systems. From time to time I get offers for newer systems, and last night a local guy offered me a X41 with dock. I told him I wasn't interested, but when he offered it to me for $10, I went to pick it up anyway.

It has obviously spent it's entire life docked, as the keyboard is unused. Some light scuffing on the lid, but in great condition. 1.6GHz processor and 512MB RAM. A nice physical size, almost comparable to the 701C, and one of the funniest little HDDs I have seen. 1.8" and hard to find, it seems. But what do you guys do with these units these days? What kind of modern OS or Linux distro does the X41 run comfortably? I have absolutely no experience in the X-world. I would just assume upgrading it to 1.5GB RAM.

As I really don't have any need for it, and use the Tablet2 as my travel companion, I should probably sell this guy before the HDD dies, at which point I assume he will be worthless. Anyone have know what these sell for these days? I should probably set it up with an OS no matter what, to make it more appealing.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#2 Post by Dekks » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:42 am

I've seen them with a CF card adapter with Linux, how good the performance is i have no idea.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#3 Post by Norway Pad » Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:46 am

Ok, that can be a way to go if the original HDD dies. As far as I have heard, the 1.8" drives don't have the best performance, and this is even a 4200rpm one. But as long as it works, I won't spend money on a different setup.

So I guess the main question would be: What kind of fairly modern Linux distro will run on 1.5GB RAM and provide a UI that is so close to Windows that any unskilled buyer will be able to use it? I could also offer it with XP Pro, but I would of course have to advice buyers against using an unsupported OS.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#4 Post by Dekks » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:10 am

Its more a choice of DE/WM than distro, i would recommend Openbox on arch or debian. That'll live fine in 1.5GB of RAM. Alternatively there is Anti-X.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#5 Post by Hans Gruber » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:23 am

Personally I think an X41 is too old to bother with. If it only cost you $10, it would make a nice collection piece. Those old 1.8" drives are about the speed of a slow USB flash drive. Probably 10mb reads. If you use it I would go with Win 95 or Win 98.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#6 Post by Dekks » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:25 am

The thing about them is they are highly portable due to the light weight.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#7 Post by Hans Gruber » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:32 am

I didn't realize it's a 1.6ghz Dothan. If you put in 2GB of memory, go for XP. I am a linux user or expert.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#8 Post by Neil » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:41 am

I've carried a X40 with me to work almost every day for the past three years or so. It's a slightly old relative of the X41, and I just can't give it up because of it's form factor. Light, slim, newer systems just don't do it for me in the same way.

I'm using a CF card and have run AntiX and others for a while, but am currently using Linux Mint XFCE, and performance it just fine for me needs. I expect to continue using for some time to come.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#9 Post by Norway Pad » Fri Aug 07, 2015 7:54 am

Dekks wrote:Its more a choice of DE/WM than distro, i would recommend Openbox on arch or debian. That'll live fine in 1.5GB of RAM. Alternatively there is Anti-X.
That suddenly became too complicated. DE/WM? I am however using Antix on my old hardware, so I'm very familiar with that. That can be a way to go.
Hans Gruber wrote:Personally I think an X41 is too old to bother with. If it only cost you $10, it would make a nice collection piece. Those old 1.8" drives are about the speed of a slow USB flash drive. Probably 10mb reads. If you use it I would go with Win 95 or Win 98.
It did in fact come with XP, so maybe I make some dual boot with Antix / XP and simply keep it. It doesn't take up much space and after I cleaned it carefully it is actually in immaculate condition.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#10 Post by axur-delmeria » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:02 am

You can do the SATA mod (it's an Intel 915 like the T43), and put an mSATA SSD.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#11 Post by brchan » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:07 am

Having tried many Linux distros on all my thinkpads, puppy Linux will probably give the best performance and ease of use. Small and runs completely in ram if you have at least 512mb. For best performance with the ability to play smooth youtube videos at >= 480p, arch Linux with JWM or icewm window manager is very difficult to beat, once you get it set up.

You can use a msata ssd in a msata to ide adapter if you want more speed, but that may cost too much.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#12 Post by ajkula66 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 9:42 am

brchan wrote:
You can use a msata ssd in a msata to ide adapter if you want more speed, but that may cost too much.
That's unlikely to work well for the same reason it sucks on T43/p and R52 systems: PATA to SATA bridge.

ZIF SSD with an adapter might be worth a shot, there's a long thread on that aspect buried somewhere in this particular forum. I've had that setup in the X40 and it was OK, but I have no idea how it would play with the aforementioned bridge.

It's a shame, really. These machines were a great concept let down horrendously by that joke of the HDD which was atrocious when new, let alone now.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#13 Post by axur-delmeria » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:03 am

ajkula66 wrote:It's a shame, really. These machines were a great concept let down horrendously by that joke of the HDD which was atrocious when new, let alone now.
Dell made an even bigger mistake when they kept using 1.8 inch HDDs in their D420 and D430 subnotebooks.
These had Core 2 Solo and Duo ULV and LV CPUs, the HDDs probably made them even slower! *facepalm*
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#14 Post by Norway Pad » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:06 am

Thanks! I know what I'm looking into then. If it stays as a collectible, it makes no sense to put money into a different HDD solution, as it won't be used much. And if I'm selling it, it won't make any sense to do so either as I won't be able to recoup the costs. So it will stay the way it is. A IDE -> CF adapter could maybe be doable, as I already have an adapter and a card, but I wasn't sure if the HDD bay would be deep enough to accommodate that. It seems like it is.
brchan wrote:For best performance with the ability to play smooth youtube videos at >= 480p, arch Linux with JWM or icewm window manager is very difficult to beat, once you get it set up.
Can it be correct that Antix uses IceWM too? I think I recognize the name. How does that compare to Arch Linux in use? What are the specific advantages? I'm sorry for asking and nagging, but even though I have become more familiar with Linux over the last years, I still don't know much. If Arch has some advantages over Antix, could you give some quick hints on things that need to be set up? I think Antix worked pretty much out of the box except for WLAN connectivity, but this might not.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#15 Post by Neil » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:18 am

Yes IceWM is the default window manager included with AntiX. AntiX is built on Debian, and IIRC you choose Stable, Testing or Unstable during installation. Arch is different in that it uses a different package system than Debian, and takes a little more effort to install. Arch is also a rolling release distro, so it's packages are more like Debian Unstable. Unstable in the sense that it's constantly changing/updating, and can break on occasion if one is not careful about what is being updated.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#16 Post by brchan » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:28 pm

Norway Pad wrote:
brchan wrote:For best performance with the ability to play smooth youtube videos at >= 480p, arch Linux with JWM or icewm window manager is very difficult to beat, once you get it set up.
Can it be correct that Antix uses IceWM too? I think I recognize the name. How does that compare to Arch Linux in use? What are the specific advantages? I'm sorry for asking and nagging, but even though I have become more familiar with Linux over the last years, I still don't know much. If Arch has some advantages over Antix, could you give some quick hints on things that need to be set up? I think Antix worked pretty much out of the box except for WLAN connectivity, but this might not.
Antix linux is quite fast and fully featured for the amount of space it uses. The 64 bit antix 15 version idled at around 150mb on my T61 (4GB ram) with no programs running, while my arch installation with ratpoison window manager idled at 89mb (terminal and htop running inside to see ram usage). Icewm only uses about 4.5mb, so the arch install still uses only about 65% memory of what antix uses. There are simply more services running in antix than in arch, which makes sense, since antix is supposed to be ready out of the box, while arch is built from the ground up. However, youtube performance was the only noticeable difference between the distros, with arch giving smoother performance at higher resolutions like 1080p. Tested using flash in firefox and iceweasel.

There is a beginner's guide for installing and using arch. It basically boils down to:
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2. create partition table and partition for the disk
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It may look complicated, but it is really not. The guide makes it very straightforward: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners%27_guide
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#17 Post by Dekks » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:50 pm

If you want an easier arch install look at archbang or antegos.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#18 Post by CometCKO » Sat Aug 08, 2015 11:47 pm

I still regularly use my X41 for note taking and even a little web surfing. I really like Peppermint Linux, quite lightweight, yet still nice gui and interface.

I did install a MSata drive, and even though throttled by SATA I, it's still much, much faster than the old Hitachi 1.8" drive. It is entirely useable.

This is still one of the best keyboards ever in a ultra-portable, and I prefer the screen aspect ratio to the X220 that I also use daily.

Nice machine, despite being a decade old!

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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#19 Post by Norway Pad » Sun Aug 09, 2015 11:05 am

Thanks for the input, guys. That was really helpful.

After going through all the input, my decision is to actually stay with Antix on the X41 too. I am now very familiar with it, and RAM usage won't be an issue, as I by comparison have almost 3 times the RAM in the X41 than in any of the legacy units I run Antix on. Brchan's write up on Arch Linux is good, though. Thanks for that, I will keep it in mind if it ever comes to pass I want to try it out. :thumbs-UP: Most times I have so little spare time, that I need to use what works out of the box. On other occasions, I have time to play around, and at that point trying this distro can be fun.
brchan wrote:Antix linux is quite fast and fully featured for the amount of space it uses. The 64 bit antix 15 version idled at around 150mb on my T61 (4GB ram) with no programs running,
This brings up another issue that's not directly related to the X41: Antix 15's RAM usage. The Antix 13.2 install I run on the 560Z idles at 45MB, which is quite essential on a laptop with only 192MB RAM. Or maybe 64bit uses more RAM than 32bit by default? That's my impression with Windows anyway, based on general impressions. So I will carefully check Antix 15's RAM usage when I install it on the X41. I assume the browser eventually will become outdated on my Antix 13.2 installs, so unless the browser can be upgraded independently from the OS, I might have to update my older units to a newer Antix version sometime in the future.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#20 Post by Dekks » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:55 pm

When you say Antix 15 is that the memphis assisted one?
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#21 Post by Neil » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:03 pm

AntiX 15 is the latest edition of AntiX. The colaboration with team Mepis produced MX-14.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#22 Post by shawross » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:59 pm

Bjorn I can see you looking for an X61 in the future if you like this form factor. IMO the X61 is a great collectible and will run any OS and they can be picked up relatively cheap. Also 51NB are working on a new mobo.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#23 Post by Norway Pad » Mon Aug 10, 2015 4:08 am

Yes, the Mepis one seems to be 14 Antix MX14. I looked into that one at the time I worked with the 390X, but I chose to go with 13.2, as I got the impression that MX14 was so different that it might not be familiar and that the RAM usage might be higher. RAM usage will be a concern with 15 as well, I will check carefully if that has changed in comparison to 13.2. It's no problem for the X41, but it might be for some older units.

I have never been much into the really small form factor units like the X-series, but I sure have the chance to try it now. I'm back at work with a fast connection, so I'm downloading Antix15 as I type. I will install it later this week and move around in the house with the X41 and see how well I deal with the form factor and the panel size.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#24 Post by Dekks » Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:39 am

Correct that mephis build was anything but light, tried it on my X30 first but was a slug.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#25 Post by Norway Pad » Mon Aug 10, 2015 2:17 pm

Just installed Antix15, and it seems to run pretty well. No issues so far. Typing from it now, all works out of the box.

The RAM usage at idle has increased a bit from 13.2, though. At idle it was 65MB vs. 45MB, and with the forum and another tab open in Iceweasel, the RAM usage was 190-200MB. I haven't found the 1GB RAM stick I know I have somewhere, but even the X41's 512MB RAM will be sufficient for Antix. The two 600 units and the 390X unit will be good with 15 too, but I'm a little worried that RAM usage might have grown too big for the 560Z. I know I disabled some services there to save RAM, so it might not be directly comparable.

I will anyway look into how the browser can be upgraded on Antix 13.2 if needed, so I can keep that older version on the 560Z if possible. But that's something for the Linux section of the forum when the time comes.
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#26 Post by kelmaur » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:28 pm

i have an X41... i am using to type this message on now

bought from an individual about 5 years ago and came with pretty much everything you would get with it brand new

i havent had any problems with mine yet..i am running XP

only problem i have and it is sporadic at that, is the mouse pointer sometimes trails uncontrollably, but stops after a few moments and then it is back to normal
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Re: Became a X41 owner, what to do?

#27 Post by CASPER » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:48 pm

.....

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