My first try here was with a standard v2.7 Tinycore system that I had installed on a CF card. This was not too successful. It did load and start to run....but then stopped. The screen output was:
CPU: vendor_id 'SiS SiS SiS ' unknown, using generic init. CPU: Your system may be unstable. IO APIC resources could not be allocated. Kernel panic - not syncing: Attempted to kill init!
I have yet to try a custom kernel. The SiS processor falls into the 'i586' class and I'm not sure how many current Linux builds run on old CPUs....
For another quick check I connected up a USB CDROM drive and stuck in a Puppy Linux V4.2 CDROM. This booted and ran successfully although it did take some time to get to the final desktop (a little over 7 minutes!) due I thought to the USB 1.1 interface ("copying to RAM" took a long time) and the 200MHz processor!
However I also tried DSL 4.4.9, this time booting from a USB pen drive. This booted in a fraction of the time that Puppy Linux took. However I had problems with the screen display - "Attention Signal Frequency is out of range, please change signal timing". Booting with dsl vga=normal got me through the first part ok, but all went pear shaped again when it came to selecting the graphics display. Eventually I found vga=788 was a reasonable parameter to boot with, and selecting an 800x600 xvesa display was fine. Why it won't do 1024x768 escapes me.
A downside(?) of the CA5 is that the two USB ports are on the front, so, if you decide to (or need to) run with pen drive it's not tucked out of the way around the back.
In December 2019 I revisited the CA5. This time I had no problems booting Tiny Core 10.1 from a 1GB USB pen drive.
I say no problems - initially I was getting an error message:
VFS: Unable to mount root fs on unknown-block(2,0)Upping the loglevel to 7 showed the issue was to do with decompressing the initrd which led onto the fact that there wasn't sufficient space to carry out the operation. The CA5 I'd grabbed only had 24MB of RAM fitted. Upping the amount of RAM solved that problem.
Any comments? email me. Added July 2010 Last update December 2019