Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
9 messages Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Thomas Vetere
Hello everyone,

I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.) My main concern is the
longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
the time to maintain the code). Does anyone know, given the age of that
model, how many years I might get out of it with OpenBSD and its packaged
software before hardware support starts to drop? What is a good rule of
thumb for selecting a machine to run OpenBSD with respect to its age?

Thank you for your help!
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Dave Voutila-2

Thomas Vetere writes:

> Hello everyone,
>
> I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
> particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
> because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
> support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.) My main concern is the
> longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
> Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
> was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
> removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
> the time to maintain the code). Does anyone know, given the age of that
> model, how many years I might get out of it with OpenBSD and its packaged
> software before hardware support starts to drop? What is a good rule of
> thumb for selecting a machine to run OpenBSD with respect to its age?
>
> Thank you for your help!

I think that machine (R51e) is 32-bit only, so it doesn't have much
runway if you're looking to keep up with Xenocara/X11 changes. I'd
recommend looking for at least a slightly more recent Intel-based
machine that's 64-bit. I know the x230's are popular and fairly user
serviceable.

Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Nick Holland
In reply to this post by Thomas Vetere
On 6/15/21 8:14 PM, Thomas Vetere wrote:

> Hello everyone,
>
> I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
> particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
> because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
> support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.) My main concern is the
> longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
> Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
> was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
> removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
> the time to maintain the code). Does anyone know, given the age of that
> model, how many years I might get out of it with OpenBSD and its packaged
> software before hardware support starts to drop? What is a good rule of
> thumb for selecting a machine to run OpenBSD with respect to its age?
>
> Thank you for your help!
>

Well...keep in mind that laptop model numbers are marketing tags,
based on what you provided, I have no idea what's actually IN that
machine.  And I (and I suspect most people) can't predict what HW
will become unsupportable in the future or why.

But the machine you are looking at is 16 years old.  Odds are, OpenBSD
will support that machine longer than you will find the machine useful
(assuming it is usable on OpenBSD now.  If it is filled with nvidia hw,
game over). Sounds like it's a fairly limited machine -- with expansion,
MAYBE just barely enough RAM to run a modern browser, but probably not
pleasantly.  Make sure it's a SATA machine, not an IDE (IDE laptop
drives are getting hard to find) and make sure you got enough RAM,
upgrading it might be expensive.  I doubt this is going to be a
long-term machine for you.

And for what it is worth, I have a machine a few years newer than yours
that I've owned and dual-booted for well over ten years...except that even
though it's specs are "sufficient" for what I might want to do with Windows
on it, Windows 10 no longer supports the video hw it has.  OpenBSD still
does.  Surprise.

Nick.

Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Stuart Henderson
In reply to this post by Thomas Vetere
On 2021-06-16, Thomas Vetere <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
>
> I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
> particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
> because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
> support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.) My main concern is the
> longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
> Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
> was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
> removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
> the time to maintain the code). Does anyone know, given the age of that
> model, how many years I might get out of it with OpenBSD and its packaged
> software before hardware support starts to drop? What is a good rule of
> thumb for selecting a machine to run OpenBSD with respect to its age?
>
> Thank you for your help!
>

If you want to run some common packages like chromium or firefox on a
current version of OpenBSD: 0 years. (To be honest i386 hasn't really
been a great choice for running packages for probably 5+ years now).

You *really* want hardware with a CPU that can use an amd64 kernel.
Check the cpu model and look it up on intel's spec pages, check for
64-bit support. On some laptop ranges there are both 32-bit-only
and 64-bit-capable CPUs in the same range, but none of the CPUs
used on R51e are 64-bit.

I wouldn't suggest anything older than the X220/T420/T520 generation,
and those would be a bit of a push now. By this point they're old
enough you might need to do some hardware maintenance; maybe replace
things like fans, heatsink compound, etc.

By the way, the cameras do usually work, though if you particularly
want to avoid a camera there are some models that don't include them.
Probably getting hard to find now though, I think "no camera" was
usually a configure-to-order option rather than a standard spec.
Although OpenBSD doesn't support bluetooth, it doesn't get in the
way of anything. On X220 and maybe others if you particularly don't
want to have the hardware, you could just remove the daughtercard
that runs it (some people do this anyway to gain an additional USB
interface); maybe swap the wifi interface too, as some of them are
combined wifi+BT.


Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

John McCue
In reply to this post by Thomas Vetere
Hi

I have a R51e and OpenBSD i386 works great on it.
I upgraded memory its from 1 to 2gig, but 1gig is
plenty.

John

On Tue, Jun 15, 2021 at 08:14:14PM -0400, Thomas Vetere wrote:

>Hello everyone,
>
>I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
>particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
>because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
>support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.) My main concern is the
>longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
>Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
>was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
>removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
>the time to maintain the code). Does anyone know, given the age of that
>model, how many years I might get out of it with OpenBSD and its packaged
>software before hardware support starts to drop? What is a good rule of
>thumb for selecting a machine to run OpenBSD with respect to its age?
>
>Thank you for your help!

Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Jan Stary
In reply to this post by Stuart Henderson
On Jun 15 20:14:14, [hidden email] wrote:
> I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
> particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
> because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
> support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.)

Every camera on every Thinkpad I have seen in the last years
was supported by OpenBSD's video(1); meaning raw frames
- you will need ffmpeg for the mjpeg stream.

> My main concern is the
> longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94

You can get a Thinkpad that is 20 years younger for peanuts.

> Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
> was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
> removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
> the time to maintain the code).

On Jun 15 21:39:48, [hidden email] wrote:
> But the machine you are looking at is 16 years old.  Odds are, OpenBSD
> will support that machine longer than you will find the machine useful

Exactly. As far as this January, OpenBSD ran just fine on my R52
https://github.com/janstary/dmesg/blob/master/thinkpad-R52.20210123
but I got rid of it anyway, for reasons others have described here.

> (assuming it is usable on OpenBSD now.  If it is filled with nvidia hw,
> game over). Sounds like it's a fairly limited machine -- with expansion,
> MAYBE just barely enough RAM to run a modern browser, but probably not
> pleasantly.  Make sure it's a SATA machine, not an IDE (IDE laptop
> drives are getting hard to find) and make sure you got enough RAM,
> upgrading it might be expensive.  I doubt this is going to be a
> long-term machine for you.
>
> And for what it is worth, I have a machine a few years newer than yours
> that I've owned and dual-booted for well over ten years...except that even
> though it's specs are "sufficient" for what I might want to do with Windows
> on it, Windows 10 no longer supports the video hw it has.  OpenBSD still
> does.  Surprise.

Heh, that's actualy a stable source of Thinkpads for me:
win users get rid of it as it cannot run their win version,
but the machine itself is just fine.

> Although OpenBSD doesn't support bluetooth, it doesn't get in the
> way of anything.

Removing the BT card seems to save a bit of battery life.

> On X220 and maybe others if you particularly don't
> want to have the hardware, you could just remove the daughtercard
> that runs it (some people do this anyway to gain an additional USB
> interface); maybe swap the wifi interface too, as some of them are
> combined wifi+BT.

Yes; but some Thinkpads' BIOSes contain a whitelist of sanctioned wifi
cards, and will not boot with other cards. So sometimes you are kinda
stuck with the original one, unless you find the exact compatibility
list and get a supported card. Typically, I end up replacing a Broadcom
wifi/bt card with one whitelisted iwn(4) or another.

        Jan

Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Thomas Vetere
Wow, thanks for all the great responses. I actually found a 2011-ish HP
Notebook I had lying around. I cleaned it, new thermal paste and have it
running now. The only real issue I am seeing is that the Wifi card is an
Atheros (athn0) and while it does connect, I seem to be getting sporadic
connection drops. I then have to restart the networking to reset it :(.  I
tried to put a different wifi card I had lying around in (intel I think),
and my BIOS wouldn't accept it. In any case, I will work to get this up and
running!

Thank you!

Il Gio 17 Giu 2021, 7:04 AM Jan Stary <[hidden email]> ha scritto:

> On Jun 15 20:14:14, [hidden email] wrote:
> > I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
> > particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
> > because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
> > support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.)
>
> Every camera on every Thinkpad I have seen in the last years
> was supported by OpenBSD's video(1); meaning raw frames
> - you will need ffmpeg for the mjpeg stream.
>
> > My main concern is the
> > longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
>
> You can get a Thinkpad that is 20 years younger for peanuts.
>
> > Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
> > was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of
> X11
> > removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
> > the time to maintain the code).
>
> On Jun 15 21:39:48, [hidden email] wrote:
> > But the machine you are looking at is 16 years old.  Odds are, OpenBSD
> > will support that machine longer than you will find the machine useful
>
> Exactly. As far as this January, OpenBSD ran just fine on my R52
> https://github.com/janstary/dmesg/blob/master/thinkpad-R52.20210123
> but I got rid of it anyway, for reasons others have described here.
>
> > (assuming it is usable on OpenBSD now.  If it is filled with nvidia hw,
> > game over). Sounds like it's a fairly limited machine -- with expansion,
> > MAYBE just barely enough RAM to run a modern browser, but probably not
> > pleasantly.  Make sure it's a SATA machine, not an IDE (IDE laptop
> > drives are getting hard to find) and make sure you got enough RAM,
> > upgrading it might be expensive.  I doubt this is going to be a
> > long-term machine for you.
> >
> > And for what it is worth, I have a machine a few years newer than yours
> > that I've owned and dual-booted for well over ten years...except that
> even
> > though it's specs are "sufficient" for what I might want to do with
> Windows
> > on it, Windows 10 no longer supports the video hw it has.  OpenBSD still
> > does.  Surprise.
>
> Heh, that's actualy a stable source of Thinkpads for me:
> win users get rid of it as it cannot run their win version,
> but the machine itself is just fine.
>
> > Although OpenBSD doesn't support bluetooth, it doesn't get in the
> > way of anything.
>
> Removing the BT card seems to save a bit of battery life.
>
> > On X220 and maybe others if you particularly don't
> > want to have the hardware, you could just remove the daughtercard
> > that runs it (some people do this anyway to gain an additional USB
> > interface); maybe swap the wifi interface too, as some of them are
> > combined wifi+BT.
>
> Yes; but some Thinkpads' BIOSes contain a whitelist of sanctioned wifi
> cards, and will not boot with other cards. So sometimes you are kinda
> stuck with the original one, unless you find the exact compatibility
> list and get a supported card. Typically, I end up replacing a Broadcom
> wifi/bt card with one whitelisted iwn(4) or another.
>
>         Jan
>
>
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

jeanfrancois
In reply to this post by Thomas Vetere
Hi,

For other reason I'm not comfortable pushing that way, capacitors
can give up after quite long time thus I'd probably check for 3-6
years old.

Though I don't apply this to myself, I got a 20+ years Toshiba and
very happy. Except the graphic card gave up so I it runs console,
but I'm still happy with it for it woks well for purposes I need it.

I found out OpenBSD is about the only universally running os, hardly
found hw it could'nt support though as you mentionned peripherals
could be missing.

NB heat is aging faster, so consider underclocking, might not be
popular but I usually do that for this purpose. Laptops can get quite
warm.

J.-François

Le 16/06/2021 à 02:14, Thomas Vetere a écrit :

> Hello everyone,
>
> I was looking to get a laptop to run OpenBSD. The one I am looking at in
> particular is the Thinkpad R51e (2005). I like this particular model
> because it does not come with any extra hardware that OpenBSD does not
> support in the first place (bluetooth, camera, etc.) My main concern is the
> longevity that this model would have going forward. I already have a '94
> Thinkpad that cannot run the latest OpenBSD well because hardware support
> was gradually dropped during code cleanups, etc (i.e. newer versions of X11
> removed support for my ancient graphics chip because it just wasn't worth
> the time to maintain the code). Does anyone know, given the age of that
> model, how many years I might get out of it with OpenBSD and its packaged
> software before hardware support starts to drop? What is a good rule of
> thumb for selecting a machine to run OpenBSD with respect to its age?
>
> Thank you for your help!

Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view
|

Re: Machine age and OpenBSD - Thinkpad R51e

Stuart Henderson
In reply to this post by Jan Stary
On 2021-06-17, Jan Stary <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Yes; but some Thinkpads' BIOSes contain a whitelist of sanctioned wifi
> cards, and will not boot with other cards. So sometimes you are kinda
> stuck with the original one, unless you find the exact compatibility
> list and get a supported card. Typically, I end up replacing a Broadcom
> wifi/bt card with one whitelisted iwn(4) or another.

You just pick one that was supplied as an option on the machine (or
use a patched bios). There are loads available on the second-hand market.