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Upgrading memory on an A30

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Sudevan
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Upgrading memory on an A30

#1 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:01 am

I've picked up some very nice machines recently, three from forum members, and some others from eBay. I will be describing them later, but I am very happy with all of them. I do have a question about one of my eBay finds, an A30 which will nicely complement my other A series machines.

This A30 (2652-43U) is in quite good shape for a machine picked up for $30 on eBay. Screen and plastics look very good. It does not, however, have a hard disk or a caddy, so I bought a 60GB HD and a caddy on eBay and they are on their way to me. The machine has 512 MB of memory, and I am wondering whether performance will be dramatically improved if I add another 512 MB PC133 SDRAM stick to extend memory to 1GB (which I think is the maximum for the A30, although when I read up on this issue here on the Forum, at least one person seemed to suggest the memory limit was 2GB). Is it important to get a name brand like Kingston or will one of the cheaper ones offered on eBay work? Here is an example of what I am looking at, it is specifically for 2652 machines:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/512MB-PC133-SDR ... 20c8905b1f

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have. I tried to see if there was clear advice in previous posts, but I was not sure if there are more subtle issues involved in memory upgrades for the A30 than meets the eye. My apologies if I missed something there.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:39 am

A30 is basically a graphics-improved version of a T23 in a 15" housing (from T23-Savage to A30-ATI).
Its RAM is limited to 2x512MB PC133, either low- or high-density (same as in T23).
If buying from feebay, stick with brand-names and look for e.g. "512mb pc133 sodimm", US Only.
Unless unavoidable, don't mention IBM or Lenovo in your search, you'll then often find parts cheaper!
If Kingston, stay away from "ValueRam", recognizable by P/N starting with KVRxxxx.
Find a nice Micron module here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/221860061038

That A30 would be a prime candidate for Linux, such as Antix.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#3 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:31 am

Thank you, RBS. Brilliant advice. I think I'll pick up that Micron module.

Kind regards,

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#4 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:34 am

RBS, I do plan to put Linux on the A30. I have Linux (I think Mint 16) on the A31 and A31p machines I own. I love them both, they are great machines, and I picked up the A31 too for a song because it needed an HD and the sellers sold it as not working or for parts. They were too busy or unconcerned to even test it out with a temporary HD!

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#5 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:44 am

Sudevan wrote:
Thanks in advance for any advice you might have. I tried to see if there was clear advice in previous posts, but I was not sure if there are more subtle issues involved in memory upgrades for the A30 than meets the eye. My apologies if I missed something there.
If you end up needing A3x parts of any kind - from plastics to fans to RAM and HDDs - I pretty much have anything and everything that you can think of apart from good motherboards. Some of the stuff can be had for a song, and some for the shipping cost.

Just as FYI.

Happy tinkering.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#6 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:33 pm

George, I wish I had known before I ordered the parts I needed! But I will definitely keep this in mind for the future.

Best,

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#7 Post by rkawakami » Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:35 pm

Sudevan wrote:<snip>...to extend memory to 1GB (which I think is the maximum for the A30, although when I read up on this issue here on the Forum, at least one person seemed to suggest the memory limit was 2GB).
Sorry to be a little late on this... The discussion you might have read about 2GB being the maximum memory was probably about the A31/p, which can handle 2GB of DDR PC2100 (or better) memory.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#8 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:43 pm

Ray, that could very well have been the case. I may have confused the A31p with the A30. Thanks for the heads-up.

Kind regards,

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#9 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:29 pm

I saw another reference to someone running an SSD in an A30. Does this require a SATA mod of the kind that RBS and others have done with R52s?
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#10 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:39 pm

Sudevan wrote:I saw another reference to someone running an SSD in an A30. Does this require a SATA mod of the kind that RBS and others have done with R52s?
No. The chipset - unlike the one found in T43 - doesn't support SATA natively.

There are two caveats:

a) You can use a PATA SSD and these are unreliable, expensive and generally more trouble than they're worth.

b) Another option is mSATA with an adapter BUT these run three-legged-dog slow, there's an excellent post by automobus explaining exactly why. Will try to find it later tonight and link it here.

EDIT: found it!

http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=115478

In other words, stick with a 7200rpm spinning drive and enjoy.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#11 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:47 pm

This must be the day for me to keep making new discoveries! I went back to look at the information about the A31p that I picked up last year. I won it for an even smaller sum than I had remembered: $17.50 plus shipping. The low starting bid of a few dollars may have been because it had no OS, and there were 11 bids in total. I checked the MTM and it is 2653-H3U, which appears to be the 15" UXGA Flexview screen, based on the specs from our Forum MTM database. Please correct me if I am in error. That machine seems to be more of a lucky find than I realized at the time! It has a few small cosmetic blemishes on the lid, but looks great otherwise. I had obtained a 40GB HD and installed it, then loaded Linux Mint 17 on it.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#12 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:56 pm

Hmm. George, I checked the automobus post and found that he lists A31p with the controller cable issue, but not the A30. Does that mean the A30 is still a viable candidate for an SSD (SATA or mSATA)? Or am I misreading what he is saying? Here is automobus' list:

machines with this bug/feature
A31p
R32
T23
T30
X22 genus: X22 X23 X24 1DET70WW (1.32)

On balance, I'll stick with your recommendation and run a spinning drive.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#13 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:48 pm

A30 belongs to the same platform as T23 and X22/23/24. I'd expect the exact same behaviour...although I can't say that I've verified it.

Your call.

Good luck.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#14 Post by Sudevan » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:59 pm

Ah, I see. Well, I think I'll play it safe for now and stick with the regular HD. I'll get the A30 up and running before I think of playing with SSDs.
Thanks for your advice.

Best,

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#15 Post by Sudevan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:22 pm

Well, I got the HD for the A30 (2652-43U) mentioned in my OP, and by separate post, the caddy and cover with a single screw, so today I inserted it. I think I did this correctly, only one way it would fit, but there were the four screws used to attach drive to caddy were missing, so I left that out. Everything went in and I put the cover on. I tried to see if I could locate it in BIOS but it did not show. I decided to wait to add the extra 512MB of memory that I had also received. I then tried Linux Mint 17 but it had a lot of trouble even loading from the CD. It did not get to the final Mint 17 splash screen where the option to install is usually shown. It just hung with the LM logo in the middle. I tried Mint 16, and it came up to the final screen but it was very erratic, and took a while to respond to commands and would not install onto the HD when I clicked the Install option.

This is the HD I bought:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/351139227756?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT

And here is the caddy

http://www.ebay.com/itm/151210617891?_t ... EBIDX%3AIT

I also picked up the Micron 512 MB stick that RBS recommended. However, that has not yet been inserted since I wanted to try the HD by itself first.


I could try some of the other flavours of Linux I have, but at this point I am wondering if one of three things is happening:

1. My installation of the HD was incorrect, perhaps I needed those four screws before it would be seated properly

2. I need the extra 512 MB memory to be added for Mint to install ( I doubt this, but it is possible ).

3. There is a different hardware problem unrelated to the HD or memory. I did receive a Kernel Panic message on one of my attempts to load Mint 17. There was also some mention of not finding a boot sector followed by "sv0 sector 121300" and "sv0 sector 121308" messages. I am not sure if this was something to do with the HD.

I will be happy to listen to any thoughts or suggestions on this problem. I had no trouble last year installing an HD on the A31p, so I am a bit puzzled.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#16 Post by ajkula66 » Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:29 pm

Sudevan wrote:
1. My installation of the HD was incorrect, perhaps I needed those four screws before it would be seated properly
Exactly.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#17 Post by Sudevan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:35 pm

Thank you AJKula, for confirming one of my "hypotheses" !

I just discovered that I did indeed receive the four extra screws, mailed along with the caddy, but in a separate package -- it had somehow fallen out. So I am now going to reinstall the HD and try it again. I will report back here after this attempt.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#18 Post by Sudevan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:55 pm

I reinstalled the HD with all four screws in and BIOS did show the presence of the HD, so that was good. Next, I tried Linux again. Mint 17 got stuck and so I tried Mint 16 next. It began installation and was close to half-way done with copying files when the installer crashed (Error No. 5, I/O Error) Cinnamon also crashed at the beginning, but this did not seem to stop the installer. The error description suggested that the CD/DVD drive or the HD could be bad, or possibly the Linux CD itself could be bad. So I tried again after cleaning the CD a bit (it did not have anything obvious like a scratch or smudge), but this time the installation did not even get started. I could make another copy of the Linux CD, or try Crunchbang or Zorin or one of the smaller Linux flavours -- and I might -- but I think my next step really should be to take the machine to my tech friend who has the software and hardware tools to check the machine and see if there is something wrong with the CD drive or the HD or any of the BIOS software. Perhaps George, RBS and others might have another approach I could try. Interesting puzzle, I have not run across anything similar.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#19 Post by ajkula66 » Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:06 pm

Sudevan wrote: Perhaps George, RBS and others might have another approach I could try. Interesting puzzle, I have not run across anything similar.
I'd venture a guess that the CPU is not playing nice with newer distros. Almost completely certain that it's not a hardware problem.

Download Peppermint - preferably an older one, maybe Four - and check whether that one flies. I've had great experiences with that distro on older hardware.

http://peppermintos.com/previous/

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#20 Post by Sudevan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:23 pm

Thanks, George. I'll give both Crunchbang and Peppermint a try. The former worked on a number of older Thinkpads for me, especially T23s. And I'll keep you posted.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#21 Post by Sudevan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 7:29 pm

Well George, success at long last! I am writing this on the A30!

I tried to install Peppermint Four, which I downloaded and burned. It started out great, but then crashed just before it began the partitioning. I tried to re-load it, but it would not even come up with the starting screen. So I tried Crunchbang and that worked flawlessly. It took an hour and a half what with all the updates, but now I have a functioning A30. Somewhere in the midst of all this, I acuired a single stuck pixel (red against the dark screen, turquoise against lighter screens, occasionally disappearing). Oh well, it is an old machine, and it looks very good for its age.

So you were right. The later Linux Mints were too much for the CPU. I am wondering if installing a more recent CPU (Dual Core, perhaps?) which the motherboard would accept might help in installing more recent OSes. Is that even possible?

Anyway, I spent most of the day on this fun, and occasionally unnerving project. But it was fun.
Thanks for your timely suggestions.

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#22 Post by ajkula66 » Sat Sep 12, 2015 7:50 pm

Sudevan wrote: Is that even possible?
Nope. Pentium 3M at 1.2 GHz is the best one can do with the given architecture.
Thanks for your timely suggestions.

Sudevan
You're very welcome.

Stubborn as I am, I'd suggest trying Peppermint 2 or 3 since 4 wouldn't play nice with the system. Crunchbang is fine, but a bit too spartan for my liking.

Just a suggestion.

Enjoy that A30.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#23 Post by Sudevan » Sat Sep 12, 2015 8:20 pm

Thanks George. I thought it would be unlikely that the A30 would support anything fancier than a Pentium 3M. And yes, I will try a different version of Peppermint.

I see what you mean by Crunchbang being too spartan. I have some trouble with slow performance for the iceweasel browser. I'm hoping that improves with the extra 512 MB that I will add, bringing RAM up to 1 GB. There's enough space on the HD to install Peppermint alongside Crunchbang. But I'm glad it has at least one OS that is now running.

If I get frustrated with the A30, I can always start up the lovely A31p that I set up last year with Mint 17!

As always,

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#24 Post by rkawakami » Sun Sep 13, 2015 1:36 am

Just a suggestion before you get further into your "new" system... You should verify that the hardware is functioning to specs before dealing with any software. I would run a memory diagnostic like memtest86+ on it and allow the diag to run at least three complete passes. Once you have established that the memory is okay, then run a hard drive diagnostic. If you can't find one designed by the drive manufacturer online, then give me a PM and I might be able to enlighten you.

Thinkpad systems back in those days can be affected by a bad MiniPCI card which can make itself evident in some strange ways. For your A30, that would be the modem card. Assuming that you don't need it for now, pull out that card and then try re-installing the Linux systems that failed before. If all goes well, then the modem is defective.
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#25 Post by Sudevan » Sun Sep 13, 2015 7:10 am

Ray, thank you for the suggestion and the kind offer. I will run memtest86+ and also see if my tech friend has an appropriate HD diagnostic. He has a whole batch of diagnostics on disks (he repairs laptops as a sideline) and he was going to make me a copy of some that he thought I would find most useful. After the diagnostics, I might also seek his assistance/supervision in pulling out the modem card since I have never done it -- my hardware experience is quite limited, but this might be a good time to learn more! I would never have thought that the modem card could screw up an OS installation, but I suppose it is possible. If I run into difficulties finding the HD diagnostic, I will certainly contact you.

Best,

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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#26 Post by Sudevan » Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:01 pm

George, I tried one more time with Peppermint Four. This time I ran a check of my disc which I'd burned after downloading the OS last week. The disk was fine, so I thought I would try out the system first and see what it looked like before trying another installation. Once I got to the desktop, it had an install option, and after exploring the OS a bit, I hit the install button. This time it did not hang at the place where it was hanging up earlier (where the partitions are set). The installation proceeded without a hitch, and now I am writing this from within Peppermint Four on the A30. Very serviceable. I did have a freeze one time, and it also told me it could not load certain modules. But it seems to be working well.

Sudevan
570 600 600 600 600 600E 600E 701c 760ED
A22m A31 A31p
T23 T23 T23 T30
T40 T40 T41 T42 T42p
T43 T43 T43 T43 T43 T43 T43 T43 T60 T60 T60/61 Frankenpad
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Z61m Ideapad S10e

ajkula66
SuperUserGeorge
SuperUserGeorge
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Re: Upgrading memory on an A30

#27 Post by ajkula66 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:21 pm

^^^^^^

Good to hear that the old A30 is playing well with a much newer Peppermint. Thanks for the update and enjoy!
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

Cheers,

George (your grouchy retired FlexView farmer)

AARP club members:A31p,T43pSF

Abused daily: T61p

PMs requesting personal tech support will be ignored.

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