Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
Part of my incentive in buying a new hard drive was knowing that I could put the old spare into the Sotec I “borrowed” from work, and give it a run under Linux.
So here are before photos (Yes! I remembered the before photos!) of the Little Laptop That Could.
Hideous, isn’t it? Just as a reminder, this is strictly 1998-era hardware I’m working with.
- AMD K6-2 450Mhz CPU
- 256Mb PC100 (?) memory;
- SM712 LynxEM+ video;
- 1024×768 screen;
and the requisite extras, like a CDROM, sound card, etc. The hard drive will be a 40Gb 5400rpm Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 (HTS548040M9AT00). It’s a good drive, and one that I have used in emergencies (like my recent crash) without too many issues. It’s not the fastest drive on the block, but it gets the job done.
Note the Windows 98SE sticker. Well, I wonder where XP came from. …
Performance under XP is absolutely abysmal. Booting from BIOS to the end of hard drive access is close to five minutes (don’t give me that crap about how Windows is ready when the desktop appears. That’s a trick, and you know it. It’s still loading garbage, and only does that so you don’t complain about how long it takes to start). Any desktop action — tooltips, single-clicking, you name it — incurs another wrathful session of drive-paging. Getting anything done on this machine is an absolute miracle.
The dirty paper taped to the front left says the floppy drive is out of order, but to be honest, I think it works. At least, it grunts when the machine is turned on. Of course, that’s not proof, but it’s at least a sign of life.
So here’s the plan, for now.
- First, give it a bath. It’s disgusting dirty. To that end I have acquired a nice bottle of dish soap and a scrubby pad. For persistent gunk, I have a bottle of ethanol (I prefer isopropyl alcohol, but that doesn’t seem to be an option here), and some cotton swabs. There will not be a repainting, since it’s really not an option under my current living conditions (I’m in a fourth-floor apartment in a Japanese metropolis!), and I’m not 100 percent owner.
- Second, pull the hard drive. This lets me avoid reinstalling Windows, reconfiguring the office network, etc. If someone asks where the ugly laptop is, I’ll confess to having it, pop the old drive back in, and bring it back the next day.
- Install Gnome Ubuntu, as a sort of benchmark. Then try Xubuntu, then a lean Openbox installation. After that, maybe try Lowarch on it (Arch won’t work with the K6 line unless I recompile the kernel and about twelve other things … all on another machine) or something else that’s exceedingly svelte.
After that, who knows? I can always use a spare laptop for diagnosing and experimenting. And like I said, if there’s no claim against it, I can probably keep it indefinitely. The boss offered to let me use it at home when I first got here, and I see this as me taking him up on the offer. Even if my intentions are different than what he had in mind.