Recover Toshiba Portege M200 Laptop

By Martin Jansen of Jansen-PCINFO

Toshiba Portege M200 laptops were very unique and way ahead of its time.  It features a pen (touch) screen like the modern tablets of today. This is made possible by rotating the screen and layling the screen flat.  This Toshiba, now 16 years old, required a special version of Windows XP with drivers for the pen and screen rotation.

I used this laptop for many years until Microsoft ceased to support Windows XP in April of 2004.  After that it mostly sat on a shelf gathering dust. Newer versions of Windows would not work on this laptop due to the relatively small 512 KB ram and 60 GB hard drive.

I had tried some versions linux over the years, but the drivers in some versions simply didn’t work.  Mobile processors in the Toshiba don’t support physical address extension (PAE) — even booting a modern operating system was problematic.

Owning my own business allowed me time to research a solution for the Toshiba’s OS woes.  Fortunately, I found an article by Reverend Munk that got me around several issues with booting and installing antiX Linux:

I followed most of the directions, but downloaded and installed the newest version of antiX 19.1 based on Debian Buster 10.  It worked very well and I was able to try several desktops included in the distribution. Then disaster struck…

One morning I went down to my lab in the basement and heard a clicking sound coming from the laptop.  Oh-Oh, I’ve heard this many times before, the hard drive is failing! A reboot confirmed my fears, antiX would not boot reporting an sda error. Time to search for another hard drive.

Now, my Toshiba is a very old laptop that uses IDE 2.5 inch drives.  IDE which has 44 pins is succeeded by SATA which is still in use today.  I could buy a replacement 80 GB IDE drive on Amazon for about $40 — not bad, but this is old technology; mechanical drives that could fail again.

What about a more modern solution?  mSATA Solid State Drives are miniaturized versions of the 2.5 inch SSD SATA which measure 1.18in X 1.96in X 0.14in.  If I could find an IDE enclosure, I was in business. I did it! I found both on Amazon, $25 for the SSD and $12 for the Enclosure. 

So, for $37 (3 dollars less than an IDE drive) I have a modern solution to an old problem.  And I have more space – 128 GB versus 80 GB.

Success! The recovery of my old Toshiba Portege M200 worked perfectly.  antiX Linux has built in driver support for the pen screen and thanks to the SSD drive, my laptop appears to be working faster than ever.