Installing Debian on a ThinkPad 750P

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Revision as of 15:38, 24 November 2007 by Whizkid (Talk | contribs) (Checkpoint.)

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I got out my 750P again and installed Debian, just because I can. These instructions are for Debian 3.0, or Woody. That version actually works. While 3.1 (Sarge) says you can use ThinkPads, it won't work on this machine. You can upgrade to a later Debian, or perhaps Ubuntu. You will need 6 floppy diskettes, a supported 16-bit PCMCIA wired network card and Internet access. Fortunately, most such cards are supported.

The installation steps here should work on any 750-series ThinkPad. This guide does not cover partitioning or booting multiple operating systems.

Executive summary for Debian experts: Just follow the normal instructions adding floppy=thinkpad as a boot parameter and it works just as you'd expect.

My 750P is loaded with 36MB RAM and a 5.1GB hard disk.

This is a draft. --Whizkid 17:10, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


Download the Debian Woody floppy images: rescue, root and the four for drivers. Make diskettes. On another Linux machine, I used this command:

sudo dd if=rescue.bin of=/dev/floppy

Since diskettes are notoriously unreliable, I read each one back like this:

sudo dd if=/dev/floppy of=test.bin

Then run md5sum * to see if it matches the correct image. If not, try again, or use another diskette.


These are general instructions. If you try these steps and they are unclear, feel free to expand them or leave comments in the discussion. Some steps may or may not apply to you, depending on your goals and desired partitioning scheme. --Whizkid 01:33, 24 November 2007 (UTC) - Insert your network card and the rescue diskette and boot the machine. - At the boot: prompt, enter this command:

ramdisk floppy=thinkpad
  • Configure the keyboard
  • Partition your disk if necessary
  • Initialize and activate swap
  • Initialize and activate the root partition
  • Initialize and activate any other partitions
  • Install Kernel and Driver Modules from floppies
  • Configure device driver modules. Choose Exit immediately.
  • Special step: Configure PCMCIA support. Select i82365 controller and leave all other options blank.
  • Configure the network, choosing a hostname and setting network parameters
  • Alternate step: Edit Kernel Boot Parameters to include floppy=thinkpad just as before
  • Install the Base System using network as a source. You can use or another mirror that hosts Woody (Debian 3.0).

At this point, the installer will begin to download and verify packages. If you lose connectivity and have to restart this step, it will not download any packages it has already retrieved. This can take some time.

  • Make system bootable, choosing /dev/hda if you wish to have LILO take over booting
  • Make a boot floppy if you like
  • Reboot the system

Installation is complete! However, you are not quite done.

First Boot