You can’t fight city hall

About a year and a half ago I ran screaming from the forums because 800Mhz machines were being thrown about and labelled as “old.”

Apparently now the earmark for “old” has graduated to full-fledged Pentium 4s, running at 2.53Ghz and maybe even faster, which are sluggish and need lightweight environments and applications to work acceptably. And even then, they’re relegated to NAS servers or e-mail machines.


I’m not even going to fight that battle any more. I gave a few suggestions, but it’s no use trying to convince people that machines running at two-and-a-half gigahertz can handle full Gnome setups. If a machine that fast is slow, it’s because Gnome is just plain slow (which it is), or as is probably the case for that machine, it needs a little more memory.

But if the general consensus is that Pentium 4 machines are now castoffs, I can only wonder where we’ll be in another year and a half. Will I be finding dual cores in the junk aisle of my local recycle store?

I can only hope. If John Q. Public can be convinced that his current computer is “too old” and “too slow,” then I am the beneficiary of John Q.’s relative ignorance. Throw it out, and I’ll be waiting in the alley with a butterfly net, hoping to snag it before it hits the pavement. Wouldn’t want to scratch the case, of course. πŸ˜‰

There is a downside to John Q.’s technological naivete: If your Celeron D is junk, then that means my Celeron (no D) is probably no longer junk.

It’s an antique.

Which means I have to start paying a little more for parts or upgrades. If my power supply for my 550Mhz Thinkpad suddenly takes a nose dive, I’m out US$60 plus shipping, just to get it back on its feet.

Which is not attractive. But if you think I’m going to drop all my Pentium IIIs and suddenly shift my perspective just to save a few bucks, you are sadly mistaken. So long as my Inspiron will turn on, I’ll keep using it. And maybe even longer.

And in another year and a half I’ll be writing a post entitled, “A dual core machine IS NOT OLD!” :mrgreen:


12 thoughts on “You can’t fight city hall

  1. Guitar John

    I’m stunned.

    My wife’s Dell laptop has a Celeron 1.4 GHz and 500 MB of memory and it is running a default Ubuntu install with Gnome, OOO and it can even handle the desktop effects. I did a couple of the tweaks to speed up Firefox and Open-Office, otherwise it’s bone stock. It’s the slowest computer in the house hardware-wise, but it is NOT a slow computer.

    I’m with you. If that’s a throw-away computer now, send it this way.


  2. pilpilon

    Now, there is a lot of netbooks around, and them a lot slower then usual desktop setup. I hope it should slow down the antiquarization process you are talking about .

  3. Tony

    I’ve got at least 2 desktop’s now that are “vintage.” One is an AMD 2200+ 1.8ghz, and the other is a Pentium 4 1.5ghz. These were given to me broken and I repaired them with parts from my spare parts pile and they now run good.

    Most owners do not have the Windows OS that came with their computer and unfortunately I have not been able for the most part to entice them into trying a FREE Linux Distro. The cost of buying Windows is usually the deciding factor if somebody makes the decision to discard their old system. Some are also hesitant about installing used parts, which I provide for free.

    Repairing a computer that is a couple of years old is not cost effective at times. They are then thrown away and I will at times be able to get them for free just for recovering some of the information from the hard drive(if possible).

    I’ve given away a lot of rebuilt computers to family members because of this and that is when somebody’s junk turns into somebody else’s treasure…

  4. Luca

    “If a machine that fast is slow, it’s because Gnome is just plain slow (which it is)” – what is slow though?

    A couple of months ago I was listening to a podcast giving a small biography on Bill Gates. They talked about when Windows was first launched and everybody was saying that it was too slow. They were right, when comparing it to the current hardware, but given time it ran fine.

    They were saying this was one of Gate’s big achivements, rather than spending time to optimise code, he knew the hardware was going to improve so there would be no need for it. Even today this is still true for Windows, look at Vista, when it first came out everybody was saying it was two slow, but on todays machines it is fine.

    For commerce this three (or even two) year lifetime of a product is a good thing as it encourages new developments, the debate here though is whether this is good for Linux?

  5. K.Mandla Post author

    In my humble opinion, waiting for the hardware to catch up is probably the worst possible excuse for bloated software I can think of. But I’ll reserve my complete opinion on that point for another time. πŸ˜‰

  6. zmjjmz

    Well, in a year my MacBook turns 3.
    Really, according to the hardware companies who make a profit on this, I should buy a new computer then. (And I will, but that’s because the warranty on this unreliable POS expires, so I don’t want to use a computer that’s likely to break down at any time and then require expensive repairs from Apple.)

  7. ikaruga

    @Luca@ – gonna have to disagree here luca. I see your point, partly. If you can do something that current hardware *really can’t do*, then that’s fine. I have no problem with that. (And that was Windows 3.1.)

    The problem is when current hardware CAN handle what you want to do but your software is bloated. Ex: Windows Vista (the proof is Windows 7 that does the same but *faster*).

    I also take objection when you ship increasingly bloated software every couple of months. Ex: Ubuntu — there really is no need for me to upgrade my computer every 3 or 6 months.

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  10. Anton Eliasson

    I’m with you on this K.Mandla. A P4 is NOT OLD! Been using mine since it was new about six years ago and it’s still capable of vanilla Ubuntu and even occasional gaming in Windows XP, which is all I need.

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