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Friday, March 04, 2005  

Wireless tinkering - a RetroSpective

I have now succeeded in getting my old Powerbook 1400c computer to operate wirelessly. I have achieved this by buying Dell TrueMobile wireless cards from ebay and using the 7.2 drivers from Orinoco. There have been a few glitches, but it does seem that these are now operating OK. Actually I also bought a "new" 1400 machine in order to keep the original machine working - for example having a spare machine for spares. The additional one is a 1400c 133 MHz so the processor is only 80% of the speed - though the actual speed also depends on the memory in the machine.

This post is actually being made from one of the 1400 machines - the original one, but both are currently working wirelessly. The machines are very slow when working on the Internet - and this seems almost unavoidable nowadays. They work faster with additional memory, and at the current time one has been upgraded to 56Mbytes, the other is still at 40 Mbytes. Both have to use MacOS 8.6 or MacOS 9.0 in order for the wireless drivers to work. I tried the earlier Orinoco drivers in an attempt to make the original machine work with MacOS 8.0, but that failed. Rather than install the later OS versions, I installed a complete system on a 512Mbyte x40 Compact Flash card, and the machine now boots up from that. It's really good that the machine is now very quiet, as the disk is hardly used at all.

Using these old machines is a bit retro, but does demonstrate feasibility. They are perfectly capable of functioning as simple web servers, and experiments have shown that the performance limitations for simple web pages are more likely to be due to the slowness of ADSL upload than the server. On the local LAN a 500 mbyte file loads in about 1 second, but over ADSL it takes 20 seconds at least.

posted by David | 5:16 am
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