The sudden uselessness of the ugly little laptop has officially put me into panic mode — now, with only about a week to go before the Hardy release, I have nothing in the house that predates a Pentium III, and nothing that I have any benchmarks against for the speed guide I had planned.
There is too much irony in the situation to list it all here. Only three months ago I mentioned getting a Pentium Pro machine for testing purposes, and passed several times on viable machines because I had the K6-2 on hand and didn’t see spending money on yet another computer.
And I had the opportunity to pick up a few leftover desktop machines, but didn’t pursue them … again, because the Sotec was available, and seemed slow enough. (Sounds funny, doesn’t it? “Slow enough.”) I could give more examples, but I’m grinding down my teeth just thinking about them.
Because now I’m down to the wire and I’m wondering if half of the “tweaks” that are listed in the old guide are usable on a 1Ghz machine. Which is to say, if a 1Ghz machine is too fast to notice the difference caused by most of those tweaks.
Well, never fear, gentle reader, because I am not so helpless and ineffectual as to whine into the Internet without some semblance of a Plan B.
First is to put out some feelers — ask co-workers and daily contacts if anyone has a pre-1998 laptop (or desktop, since beggars can’t be choosers) they’d be willing to part with (most people probably would be) for a song (in this case, the song might equal money). The dream machine would be a 200 or 300Mhz Pentium II, something that boots from a CDROM and has a PCMCIA III port (the fat one). If it has a built-in network jack or a USB port, that would be a bonus.
Next is to make a special trip, or two trips, or even three if necessary, to some of the secondhand shops around town. Ordinarily this is a huge inconvenience on a weekday, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and relatively speaking, this is desperate. Yeah, I know: It’s not house-on-fire critical, but my life doesn’t get very exciting very often, so don’t deny me this small sliver of drama.
Finally, I have an absolute-emergency backup plan — emulation on the AMD64. I usually shy away from emulation, mostly because I don’t find it to be faithful enough to the real thing … which is, of course, why it’s called “virtualization.” Ordinarily I wouldn’t consider it, but like I said already, I’m losing time and can’t be picky.
So I’ve already reinstalled Arch 64 on the Pavilion, added Qemu and I’m strolling through an emulated Hardy installation right now. It’s not moving very fast — which is good, actually — but I have a feeling by Tuesday I should have most of the ground I covered already … re-covered, if that makes sense. And if I don’t have an actual, real-live Pentium II by then, I’m willing to update or rerelease in a few months whatever I muster by Friday.
In the mean time I shall be copying emulated system images over and over again, pretending I am a Pentium Pro.
P.S.: I do appreciate offers of out-of-date hardware and I might consider a long-distance acquisition, but the cost of shipping will probably nix any offer you might make. It might sound weak, but I can’t afford to drop US$75 for an ancient laptop to travel to Japan. If you’re already in the country, or somewhere near we can talk. But otherwise, thank you, it’s very kind of you to offer … but no thank you.