The Mgt.

AST PowerExec 4/33 SL ColorPlus

  • Intel i486SL 33MHz
  • 8 MB RAM in 2*4 MB proprietary modules, max. 2*16 MB
  • 2 PCMCIA sockets, 5V/16-bit only
  • serial, parallel, VGA out, docking port
  • 3.5'' floppy drive; 2.5'' HDD bay
  • 9.5'' color TFT 640x480 (NEC NL6448AC30)
  • 512KB graphics controller, max. 256 colors, 800x600 with ext. monitor

I no longer own this machine. Information is retained for reference only.

This is surprisingly not in active use now. I sometimes play around with it, having successfully run MSDOS/Win3.1, DR-DOS, FreeDOS, Linux, and NetBSD on it. In fact I can think of several reasons for NOT using it, even if it's technically quite cool for its age.

Lately (2007-01-02) I've installed yet another instance of Gentoo Linux on it just for the heck of it ;) This time using the embedded x86 base, with udev replaced by static /dev.

About the name

On 2004-07-28 I got this little wonder onto the public Internet after a long time, having installed Gentoo on it. The laptop used to be called Prkl, but that name belongs to another of my machines now. So I needed another one.


{Written in late 2002 when I used it as a webserver running Apache on NetBSD}

My dad gave me his old laptop from work in early 1997. It was my first laptop and ran Windows 3.1. I didn't know much about computers then, but I felt Win95 was evil and it wouldn't install properly anyway. As such, the machine was good enough for writing essays and stuff.

I only really hate the keyboard. It's not for proper touch typing because it requires the Underwood style of stabbing hard with fingers pointing directly towards the keys. And it's gotten more clunky over time as the rubber springs have hardened (I even did a silicone treatment once to soften them slightly).

During my military service in 1997-1998 it served as a gaming machine in our dorm.

As I went to Cambridge in 1998, I suddenly had a fixed IP at my room. While I only had minimal previous exposure to the Net, I knew this meant lots of possibilities. So in a couple of weeks I was serving my first personal web site on this AST, still under Win3.1.

Quite importantly, the fixed net connection meant that I was able to snarf information about Linux. I'd heard of it before without realizing what it meant for me.. and was quickly daunted to see I couldn't run any decent distro on that 486. By the time I got Willow in the summer of 1999, it was quite clear what OS it would run. My friend Esa officially awarded me Geekhood after my first kernel compile.

I've been quite proud of using laptops for webservers, with the slogan that size isn't everything. Of course these days you can cram a decent system into a subnotebook, but this one is still rather small in terms of resources. Having Apache on it is definitely overkill if I don't get more memory, so I might switch to Boa and do something about the PHP-based photogallery, it isn't really dynamical anyway.

Risto A. Paju