[Techtalk] tiny homebuilt appliance?

Alvin Goats agoats at compuserve.com
Fri Oct 24 10:09:56 EST 2003

> > I'm looking for an alternative to using old PCs for firewall/gateway 
> > and other specialized servers. They're big and clunky. 
> I have heard of broken laptops being recycled into firewalls, 
> but I presume they got Linux installed on them when they had 
> working monitors.
> Not so big and clunky, those

I have a Toshiba laptop whose LCD died, but.... there's a VGA jack in
the back! Most laptops have a vga connector so you can use resolutions
greater than the LCD panel. The only problem is if you have to use the
laptop keyboard and look off to the side to see the monitor.

The best solution:

Get a monitor that you will use as a floater (I've got an old 640x480
VGA clunker for that), a keyboard and a serial mouse. I have not seen a
laptop yet that failed to have a VGA connector, keyboard connection and
a 9 pin serial connector. After that, just plug them in and turn on the
laptop. Mine is being used as a file server (I have the deskstation with
built in SCSI, loaded with SCSI drives). Disable all "green" and apm
modes on the laptop so you can run it with the lid closed (most laptops
have a switch that senses when the lid is closed and automatically pust
the laptop to "sleep"). Install your software and close the lid. Put
your monitor where it is convenient and use the laptop like you would a
desktop style PC. I recommend the serial mouse as all laptops have a
serial port, but not all have a bus mouse port. 

USB mice et al will be up to others who have them to give you advice.
The above will at a minimum, "brute force" a minimal setup.

FYI, my floaters range across "deathstar": a 486DX-33 firewall,
"dogstar": a pentium tower server and "frogstar": the Toshiba Tecra
730CDT pentium 150 laptop.


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