Monday, August 10, 2009

Laptop Ressurection with Windows 7

The Plan

Install Windows 7 (RC-1) on a IBM Thinkpad A22p

The Reason

It is fun


pIII 900mhz
384mb Ram (may try to run with 128 for kicks)


I recently put 7 on a new HP and was surprised when I installed and ran updates that all the hardware, including a fingerprint scanner, had been successfully recognized and drivers had been located. Honestly, this is a first for that type of success aside with a Ubuntu install (for a laptop, anyway)...and I'm not sure if even it found the fingerprint reader. I read an article about a guy installing 7 on a computer with 96 MB Ram and I thought I'd try to put it on one of these old laptops I had that could likely handle XP (or certainly a modern gnu/linux flavor).

To be fair, though, this computer has 256 mb more memory than it 'should have'. I also know that many people won't have a DVD drive laying around, but may be able to find one for $10 on ebay or something...assuming the rest of this install goes well and the OS isn't ridiculously non responsive. I'm not holding my breath.


After verifying available disk space (at lest 10GB, I think...with 20+ highly recommended), I went to put the Windows 7 disk in the drive when I realized that the a22p had a cd-rw, but that wouldn't help since I needed a DVD drive. I searched my office and found a newer DVD-RW, but the connection was different (presumably SATA or something like that). I almost gave up, but found a DVD-ROM in an old box with the same type of connection. Problem solved.

I put the DVD in and restarted the computer, pressing F12 to 'select boot device'

Next I performed the standard steps, yes to EULA, begin installation...custom install...advanced drive options, delete both partitions (Fat32, nice) and create a new one, click 'Next'

Installation began copying files and the likes. It has been less than 5 mins since the installation started.

Expanding Windows files sat on 0% for a few, but is finally moving.

96% done expanding windows files

'Completing Installation'

Finished Install -- waiting on user input


System is surprisingly responsive -- though certainly not snappy. After installation, 4 or 5 devices are missing valid drivers including the audio device and network device. I don't want to install any drivers manually, so I use a cardbus (pcmcia?) network card and it is detected immediately and the correct drivers are installed. I plug a network cable in and have network/internet access. Now I will run windows updates and see if it can solve the problem for me.

9 updates and a restart later, we have audio and all other drivers but the original ethernet controller. Hmm. My video resolution also got lower.

After raising the resolution back to the native one (1280x1024), I checked for more updates (hoping to fix the ethernet issue). No recommended updates, but there were two more hardware related optional I gave them a go.

Still no luck with the ethernet driver.

After googling 'a22p drivers', I found the xp approved intel network driver and downloaded it. There didn't seem to be an apparent installer, but when I went to device manager >> update driver >> and pointed to the extracted files (+ subdirectories), it found the driver and installed it no problem.

The initial opening of IE8 was a little slow...15 seconds. My windows exerience rating is 1.0 (for graphics and gaming graphics with a slight increase at 1.3 for processor and 1.6 for memory). General web browsing was acceptable, but new tabs strained the system a little. Once the tabs were open, they were fine.

The AV install went well, but the Office 2k7 install really took forever and I had a screen blank during install[this was at least partly due to a faulty Office 2K7 disk and shouldn't be taken into consideration.

I installed a cardbus wireless g network adapter (d-link wna-2330). It was recognized and drivers installed automatically. Connecting to a wireless network was painless.

Running MS Word for the first time (with IE running with two loaded tabs) took about 25 seconds. Subsequent runs were faster (~12 seconds until the blinking cursor).

For standard use, this computer runs Windows 7 fairly well. It doesn't run with the responsiveness of a new, dual core system with adequate (2GB) RAM, but is faster than any computer laden with malware and correctly identified most hardware automatically.

*using balanced power plan defaults*

Load times

battery power

system boot 3:45
wake from hibernate 1:20
ms word 15
ms word [reloads] 7.5
ie 27
ie [reloads] 7
google chrome 13
google chrome [reloads] 5

ac power

system boot 2:20
wake from hibernate 1:10
ms word 12
ms word [reloads] 6
ie 14
ie [reloads] 8
google chrome 13
google chrome [reloads] 4

Test Information

  • system load time complete when all default programs (defaults + antivirus [etrust 8.1] + daemon tools drive emulator) are loaded into memory and the system is available for use. auto-login was used to bypass the wait for user interaction. time did not include any additional wait to connect to the wireless network.
  • word load times are calculated when the cursor blinks steadily, waiting for user input
  • ie homepage set to google and calculated when the entire page loads
  • chrome homepage set to 'last visited sites' option
  • resume from hibernate times calculated when 'locked' screen with no 'blue ring' is reached (prior to selecting user account)

Other things of note

The default page file was system manged, 256-512 MB recommended...but the actual size was 1024. I set it to a static 1024.
Sleep mode was not available. Closing the lid caused the computer to hibernate.


Given access to spare parts (or a native dvd drive) and adequate RAM, I recommend installing Windows 7 on an older laptop of similar specs. The user experience is acceptable and, if RC1 is is free for roughly a year.

No comments: