Archive for August 2nd, 2012

ThinkPad 560Z BIOS Battery Replacement

Quite some time ago I picked up a trio of IBM Thinkpad 560Z laptops from the usual eBay suppliers as part of a DDJ column project. One turned into a digital picture frame, our Larval Engineer has another (because it was maxed out with 128 MB of RAM), and I just fired up the third (96 MB!) to discover whether it could serve as a text-only terminal without too much trouble.

Alas, the BIOS battery was dead. I’d replaced the dead OEM cell some years back with a (surplus) lithium cell that’s a bit too small, so it only lasted a few years rather than a decade, but the cells were on the shelf. Soooo, I put in another one, just like the other one:

Thinkpad 560Z BIOS battery

Thinkpad 560Z BIOS battery

After nudging the date & time into the current millennium, it then failed to boot Ubuntu 8.04: evidently the mighty 4 GB CompactFlash drive (jammed into a CF-to-IDE adapter) has bit rot.

It’s a prime candidate for the text-only version of Tiny Core Linux, except that a 560Z can’t boot from either USB or CD-ROM, which means getting the files on the “hard drive” requires extraordinary fiddling. Drat!

FWIW, when this battery fails, I think the (empty) main battery compartment has room for a CR123A cell that should outlast the rest of the hardware. I could blow two bucks on a replacement from eBay, but what fun is that?