Problem: I bought a used IBM ThinkPad 240 on ebay. A great little machine, but... the cd-rom is external. It plugs into the PCMCIA slot... and you need to load drivers to read the thing. And I didn't really want to do a great deal of hacking to get DOS (or linux) to load the drivers to read in the operating system.
Solution: I downloaded the basic cardsoft pcmcia drivers from the IBM home page, I think from the TP240 download section. This didn't let me read the CD-Rom. But it did enable me -- I belatedly discovered -- to read a Compact Flash card placed into a PCMCIA adapter.
Once I figured that out, I simply copied the OS cd into 128 MB chunks from my desktop, transfered the chunks via the CF card onto the thinkpad hard drive, and voila! I was able to install.
Yes, it's embarrasingly simple in hindsight. But I sure wish I thought of the idea sooner... or found it through my Google hunting!