This time I have no excuse. This time I went into the recycle shop with an eye for anything in the US$10-$20 range, specifically to serve as a torrent slave. And this is what I walked out with.
This is an NEC LaVie NX LW30H/6, serial number s98-3089-0: a 300Mhz Mendocino Celeron with a whopping 64Mb of memory, a cramped 4Gb hard drive, CDROM, floppy, PCMCIA ports, stereo sound and best of all, one USB1.1 port. Physical condition is only fair-to-middling, with a lot of physical use, a few stray marks and a missing cushion or two on the bottom. But aside from that, no cracks, broken keys, scratches on the screen or other damage or abuse. If I was still repainting machines this would be a strong candidate.
In case you’re interested, or in case you’re cruising past this page a decade from now, trying to find out what exactly was in the LW30H/6, here’s what I can tell you:
- 298.378Mhz Celeron (Mendocino). I love how accurate /proc/cpuinfo is.
- 64Mb, I assume PC100, but I didn’t actually check yet, and I don’t know how important it is for me.
- ESS ES1968 Maestro 2 sound card. Sound is a little faint, but laptop speakers always sound rotten, and I didn’t buy it for a stereo.
- Floppy drive. You laugh, but that is valuable in this house.
- Hitachi DK238A 4.3Gb hard drive. Small and slow. At least it’s not noisy.
- Japanese keyboard, of course. Actually I’m not particularly fond of this one, because it pushes some of the outlying keys (PageUp, PageDown, and so forth) into strange locations. It’s a bit cumbersome if you are used to them in specific places.
- Intel 440BX/ZX/DX, which means PIIX4 for ISA, IDE and USB connection.
- NEC CDROM. It works, and that’s all I know.
- NeoMagic NM2160 MagicGraph 128XD against a flawless 1024×768 screen. I had to clean through a few layers of grime and fingerprints, but the final results were nice and clear.
- Texas Instruments PCI1221 Cardbus support. Which means I can use the faster PCMCIA wireless card in this, instead of relying on pre-Cardbus hardware, like I do with the Pentium.
Performance-wise, it’s nothing to howl about. The drive is slow, the processor is slow, memory is occasionally tight, but other than boot to a desktop and run a background instance of screen-plus-rtorrent, the demands are low. I see no need to put too much effort into this one. This is exactly what I had in mind when I went in the store.
Arch Linux makes it acceptably light and fast, and with the addition of a very lightweight desktop, it’s a working-class computer. As you can see I added the old ath5k-based PCMCIA wireless card, which gives it decent download speeds, and the entire graphical desktop, plus nfs and ssh can all run in under 30Mb of memory with a little swap used. Triggering rtorrent and screen-vs over ssh takes care of the actual “work,” and all the rest is cake.
I have no rationale for installing a full WindowsXP Classic-ish IceWM desktop, except that it was the quickest way to get the applications in place and see if the graphical arrangement was working. I haven’t used anything except Arch on it yet, and to be honest I probably won’t. (Actually that’s a lie, since I used a Kolibri floppy to see if the drive was working … and it is. )
That’s about all, really. This one is headed straight to the closet, to take over from that half-working Dell 600m I had a few months ago. I came to miss having that access point in the house, as well as a single machine to handle torrent downloading. I will probably supplant the drive with the WD Scorpio, which is just lying around these days. Might as well put it to use, and provided it will start, it’ll be good for serving up Ubuntu 10.04, which is due in another 10 days or so. That’ll be a good test case. …