Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
So here’s the rundown on a full Ubuntu 7.04+ installation on the ugly little Sotec laptop. This is a K6-2 at 450Mhz, with 256Mb of PC100 (I think), and a 40Gb 5400rpm Hitachi hard drive. Network is via Xircom Realport RBEM56G-100 wired PCMCIA adapter.
Look familiar? A full default installation took almost two hours. There were 118 updates, and the full system upgrade took another hour and a half (but that includes downloading from the Japan archives, which were mysteriously slow).
After it’s over and completely updated, startup is about 3:18. Shutdown is a little faster, around 0:38.
Sound works great, or at least as great as can be expected through laptop speakers.
Video works fine, but the default installation sets the color depth at 24 automatically, which the SIS card can’t do, so I get the default 800×600 boxed effect. Correcting that is a breeze; I just edited the xorg.conf file to change the color depth to 16 and everything bounces back to 1024×768.
CDROM and hard drive access are normal, and the touchpad works fine. USB ports are good. I’d test the floppy drive … but I can’t find a floppy disk. Sign of the times, I guess. …
The only quirk — and it is an unexpected bonus, in a way — is that the network connection sometimes seems to malfunction. The installation procedure (I did this off the alternate CD) found it immediately and connected right away, which was a surprise. I thought I was going to run into issues between the 2.6 kernel and the PCMCIA hardware. But Ubuntu worked it out on its own.
However, I get a mysterious, occasional nonworking connection. The router shows a live wire and the PCMCIA card is lit, but Ubuntu can’t get a network assignment, and I have a strange eth0:avah address in ifconfig. Perhaps that’s something special for Gnome, but I don’t see those anywhere else. If I take eth0 down and then back up again, eth0:avah disappears. But dhclient still can’t grab an address from the router.
Which is all moot point, really. Performance is absolutely abysmal. The start time is enough of a reason not to use the Gnome desktop on a machine this slow. But to add insult to injury, Firefox takes about eighteen seconds to start. Just getting a terminal more than five or six. Nautilus needs about as long to appear. When I tell Gnome to shut down, I have to wait almost four seconds for the shutdown/reboot dialogue.
But I don’t really blame anyone for that. This machine wasn’t ever meant for a full honking Gnome desktop, least of all one of this dimension. I forgive everyone involved, including myself, for subjecting this poor machine to such treatment.
The next step is a full Xubuntu 7.04 setup, to see if there’s much improvement. I don’t hold out hope, but I am willing to give it a shot.