New life for old toys


I’ve accumulated a number of old PCs, laptops, and even a couple of servers over the years. With the recent chip shortages and supply chain problems I’ve taken to finding new applications for them.

Compatibility is surprisingly good. The x86-64 platform has been around for a long time. One problem I’ve hit recently is that UEFI has been around long enough so older BIOS’es can no longer boot some software which is distributed as disk images.

I ran into this with the HassIO “appliance” version of HomeAssistant. I was looking to set it up on an old ThinkPad T500 which didn’t have UEFI support.

But first a little digression.

Playing around with old hardware meant I was going to be trying all kinds of old installation disks. Either burning CD/DVDs or struggling with things like Rufus, UNetbootin (which I think is pronounced you-not-booting), etc. It gets old pretty fast.

Until I found a GPL-licensed tool called Ventoy.

Ventoy is a really cool tool. You install it on a flash drive with a simple command and from that point forward, all you have to do to boot an img or iso file is to copy it to the flash drive. You have store many images on the flash drive and you get a menu from which you can select which image to boot.

So far, I’ve used it successfully with Ubuntu, ParrotOS, Debian, GParted, and a few of the Puppy Linux images. The only one that gave me trouble so far is TinyCore Linux which seemed to have some UEFI issue – I’m not interested enough right now to troubleshoot it.

Anyway, this one’s a keeper. Check it out at https://www.ventoy.net.

I’ll have to get back to the UEFI boot story later. In the meantime, here are instructions for HassIO if you need them: https://community.home-assistant.io/t/install-ha-on-old-laptop-without-uefi/407443/20.


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