Monday, 11 February 2008

economy computing ...

I've always wanted a linux machine at home to play with, but the realities of life have meant up to now that we've had to have a more mainstream machine, as we need to share it. And so we've soldiered on with a win2k laptop, which is now close to 7 years old.

Well we've broken free of our Microsoft addiction with a sexy new aluminium imac, having finally convinced Judi that the operating system is irrelevant and iWork will do what we need to do domestically. [.doc != Word != XP].

What finally convinced her was work giving her a vista thinkpad with Office 2007 which immediately caused all the problems about being able to exchange documents with people with non-upgraded machines and having to spend time hunting around Office 2007 to do what could be done with a few keystrokes in Office 2003.

So, the linux machine. Well we had a couple of old pc's, one I'd bought in, wait for it, 1998, and one I'd bought for $20 from a previous employer. (It would have cost them at least that to send it to auction or dispose of environmentally).

Well I'd never even powered up the $20 special, despite it sitting in the garage for two years, but mid last week I did, and after sitting in the garage for two years it powered up perfectly, and then hung trying to connect to non existent novell network.

Powered it down, restarted with an ubuntu install cd, and an hour later, hey presto, a working linux machine.

Now that still left me with an old 1998 pc. Opened it up, pulled the disk and the memory, which was pc-100 like the $20 special, and installed them in the special. A bit of fiddling with the bios and reinstall, with my usual failed first attempt at partitioning (I don't know, it's not just intuitive to me) and then, again a working machine.

Stripped the case of cd drive and power supply just in case I even need spares and then it was ready for the scrap heap.

The only problem was the monitor. It again was 1998 vintage and getting distinctly soft and slightly fuzzy. Keyboard and mouse were not a problem, I've a couple of spare old style pc keyboards and mice, but the only other monitor I had wasn't that hot either.

However Canberra being Canberra, there's a lot of surplus ex government equipment around, most of it sold at auction. I didn't want a pallet load of monitors but I found an online auction site that was selling off Sun VGA compatible LCD's individually.

$63 and a week later I had a nice four year old Sun LCD in good condition, plugged it in to the linux machine, and there it was, super sharp.

So sharp in fact that when Judi first saw it she asked me why I was setting up the imac in the shed.

But for $83 I've second machine for writing, email and web when the imac is tied up with other things. And it isn't Microsoft!

So far so good. Now the linux special isn't connected to the network, but we got ourselves a new adsl home gateway through our isp and I persuaded Judi the linux machine (the designer in her) looked good enough to live in the study - I could have used a wireless bridge, but as the shed is made of tin it functions as a really nice Faraday cage making networking a tad difficult.

So, set up the gateway. First wireless conenction. Just works. Connect old W2k laptop via ethernet, just works. Share disks. Just works. Then the damned box just dies - won't do ethernet though wireless works. Reboot it, powercycle it etc. Splurg. dead. Wireless works, we lit did till sometime on sunday morning. Reconnected old modem and emailed our isp's tech support. Of course at 1100 on Sunday you don't get much - but I think they owe us an adsl 2 box that works.

Funny isn't it - the old stuff just works and the new stuff ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pity that you didn't try Puppy,
it would have been even easier.

" " Puppy Linux 3.01

I've heard about Puppy Linux in the past, but never really took the time to check it out. I don't know what prompted me to look into light-weight & small distros this evening but that is what I did.

I currently have it running on my IBM laptop, which is older but has a ton of RAM and the performance of this distro is awesome. It did take me a few minutes to setup the wireless networking, but I was impressed w/ the way Puppy Linux kind of walks you through it. "

Regards ...Chris