ThinkPad 600 Digital Picture Frame

A Pursuit of the Untattainable

This is my digital picture frame project. There are many like it but this one is mine.

I recently cleaned out the Big Box of old gear and found my stack of retired ThinkPad laptops screaming to be used for something. The plan is to create two picture frames, one from a ThinkPad 600E and another from an X30, in that order. There are tons of other projects out there, some even using a ThinkPad 600. Unlike many of the others, I'm trying to run the machine with minimal overhead for an OS and without rotating storage. And then I want to use the Laser Cutter to create a housing and cherry wood frame.

Pictures and docs coming as we figure it all out.

10.29.09 - Multiple FAIL.


So far, I've been successful in running flickr-pitchr in a VirtualBox VM and managed to get it to pull from my flickr stream. I spent several hours trying to figure out how to move the virtual HD to a CF card to use as the boot media. Eventually I figured out how to do it with dd. "It's easy once you know how!"

Unfortunately, trying to get either of the ThinkPads to boot from it ate up the rest of the day. I rebuilt the CF image a couple of times and eventually eliminated that as the problem but neither laptop would boot. Turns out, my TP600 has a failing motherboard. It booted from the CF once and then refused to do so again. The X30 it turns out, simply won't boot from CF media. Maybe with a BIOS update it would work but updating the BIOS on the X30 is a story for a different day.

10.30.09 - Install OS on X30 HDD


Got it to boot flickr-pitchr distro from an actual hard drive. But. No wifi support (le sigh). And I have exactly zero interest in figuring that out. So now I'm creating a new Ubuntu disk image to use under the assumption that it will be relatively easy to get the flickr goodness working on there.

10.31.09 - Create and configure Ubuntu image with FlickrFrame scripts


Hint: If you're going to create an Ubuntu VM, download a pre-built VM instead of doing a clean install from an ISO image into a new machine.

I managed to get a shiny new install of Ubuntu working as the substrate for FlickrFrame. But, there's still a body of work required to get FlickrFrame working.

(fast forward a few hours)

Later - FlickrFrame is working. It still requires a manual login with a password,as enforced by Ubuntu password policy. Not sure how this will work once the computer is in a frame and has no keyboard…

Later-er - Time to move the configured Ubuntu image to the X30. Here's the working theory (at the time): Fire up one of the TinyLinux distro I used previously to dd flickr-pitch to the CF card and duplicate the Ubuntu image to the X30's HD. Here's the reality: TinyLinux won't recognize the file system on the Ubuntu virtual HD. Yep. That's right.

Much Later New theory - Given that I had that Ubuntu ISO from earlier, boot from that as a LiveCD and use that environment to run dd. Here's the reality: the Ubuntu ISO, for inexplicable reasons, was missing the menu option to boot as a LiveCD. According to the Ubuntu website, all of the ISOs should support this, except mine.

Even More Later-er - New theory - create a VM with a newer, more robust distro. Mostly because it was relatively small, I downloaded a recent FreeBSD image. Fired it up just fin….oh wait. What's the root password? Not published. Thanks for playing.

11.1.09 - dd


Looks like my deduction about the file system problem was incorrect, maybe. I created a new Ubuntu VM that I could use to copy my FlickrFrame instance to the X30 HD. I managed to get dd to run, which it did, for about an hour. When it finished, it reported an I/O error, though the data read and written was of equal size. Regardless the new disk could not be mounted either by Ubuntu or MacOS. So, I went back to MacOS and formatted the X30 HD as a FAT filesystem and am currently running dd again…

Later - FAIL Same results. "Wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/sdc1…" Are we learning yet? Same problem I had building the bootable CF card. The problem is/was that the disk partitions were hosed. Either there were no partitions defined or it was too small to accept the inbound dd image. X30 drive rebuilt with single, full-disk partition. One more time with the dd.

11.2.09 - Ubuntu Insatalled
And that's about all I'm prepared to say about the last 24 hours. I was never able to get dd to work for me, and I'll spare you the unbelievable machinations I've been through. Suffice it to say, I was able to get an Ubuntu LiveCD image installed on a USB stick and install a fresh image from there, only to find out that my MiniPCI wifi card is SO OLD that it doesn't support WPA. Seriously y'all, this is crazy. It seemed like such a good idea…

11.3.09 - You've GOT to be kidding me*


Booted the box this morning and it hangs during the boot sequence. Booting in recovery mode reveals this little gem:

BUG:  soft lockup - CPU#0 stuck for 61s! [swapper:0]

I think I may be done with this project.

( Aw, don't give up now, try sending the kernel boot flag -noapic )
details here


Reinstalled Ubuntu from scratch, did some system update-y things that the internet told me to do as per David's suggestion:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

And I'll add the -noapic flag to grub.conf (assuming that's the right spot to put it) when I get home.

Oh, and MattW gave me the MiniPCI card of my dreams. He promises it'll do WPA.

I think this is self explanatory:

1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in - Power off and remove the miniPCI network card.
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