I tend to change hardware a lot — with certain exceptions. My fickleness has tapered a little, but I still like to experiment with new-old machines. For reference, or just to show off, this is the hardware I’m using now.
These will change from time to time, and I’ll try to keep updating this page, rather than adding posts. There’s generally no note of operating systems, because everything is probably running some shade of Ubuntu, Crux or Arch, and that can change from day to day.
Oh, and one last thing — I am exceptionally uninventive when it comes to machine names: I christen each one with the serial number off the bottom. Boring, huh?
IBM Thinkpad X60s: lv-a8280
For a long time I was keeping a family heirloom 1Ghz machine as a high-end complement to the lower-end computers I prefer. The problem is that 1Ghz is in and of itself a rather low-end computer any more. For what I needed it for — compiling and building surrogate systems — 1Ghz was a bit underkill.
So after a long and rather uneventful search I decided to bring home this machine, and I have yet to regret it. It has more than enough speed for my requirements, without becoming something overwhelming and needy. No oddball screen dimensions, no world-crushing video card and no power-sucking CPU.
At the same time it’s sleek and small, with a footprint just slightly narrower than the Pentium machine I use daily. Best of all, it’s 100 percent Linux-friendly, with nothing yet that requires a fight to set up. Exactly what I wanted. Yes, I picked it because it’s a Thinkpad, but that rule hasn’t failed me yet.
I would be comfortable recommending this machine to anyone who wants a very small laptop that’s not a netbook, and still wants some power behind it. Standard-style parts and components, easy on your electric bill and no inconveniences of waiting for Linux to catch up with the hardware. It’s not a gaming machine, that’s for sure, but it will handle most anything you throw at it and not suffer for being a few years old already.
Sharp Mebius MN-340-001: mn-340-001
This is another miracle of the recycling shops here. For another lousy US$10 I got a machine that really steps well beyond its era in terms of processor power, and picks up a lot of the frills and amenities usually associated with the Pentium II generation.
What that means though, is that it becomes a powerful and flexible i586 machine, with the ability to tackle full-size CDROMs, CardBus network cards and even USB1.1 hardware. In many ways this is a perfect machine to experiment on, because at its core it is obsolete while it’s peripherals are still up-to-date.
I haven’t had this long, but if you see one, I would highly recommend grabbing it, no matter what condition it’s in. Late-model machines with still-common peripherals means the kind of oddball testing and probing that I do daily are still possible, without making off-the-wall sacrifices or crazy, Rube-Goldberg solutions. For day-to-day use, I don’t really like the keyboard layout and the screen on this one is a little weak, but both of those things will just require a little adjustment on my part.
NEC VersaPro VY22X/RX-M: vy22x
For me, this machine rides the lower edge of what is accessible for a top-end distro. It’s easily overwhelmed by Ubuntu and megadistributions that focus on flair at the expense of function.
The sad part is, with something just the teensiest bit lightweight, it becomes a front-line performer, picking up a terrific amount of speed and practical function. So long as the distro doesn’t try to cram glitter down it’s throat, this machine can do anything the average person needs from a personal computer.
Toshiba Dynabook Satellite J12: j12-250c-4
Reluctantly I have assigned this the role of multimedia and torrent client, mostly because it can do both tasks simultaneously, without sacrificing in either direction.
It’s overkill though, and I should really consider putting it to better use, instead of two tasks that, combined, can be handled by a midgrade Pentium III.
As it is though, it has a beatiful screen and good sound, with strong network access and a comfortable keyboard. So until the aforementioned hypothetical Pentium III appears, this will is assigned to light duty.