Sunday, 19 January 2020

Yesterday, I built a linux machine ...

It might seem strange, but it's been five possibly six years since I installed any variant of linux on a real machine, the last being my old MSI netbook.

However,  yesterday I installed linux onto my old Dell laptop - and I do mean old - embarrassingly so, it dates from 2010.

I reckoned that installing linux was the best way of wiping it prior to disposal.

Ubuntu now comes with a snazzy graphical installer rather than the old text based one that I was familiar with so I decided to simply follow the bouncing ball and do a standard install.

I wrote myself a live USB stick on a windows machine with Rufus, plugged the old Dell into a power socket and booted it from the USB stick.

First time around it offered to automatically partition the disk to allow me to keep my Windows 10 install by creating an 8GB partition for windows and the same for Ubuntu.
I thought I'd try installing it as a dual boot machine as a test, as my old second hand thinkpad is still on Windows 7.

While Windows 7 is now off support I still need a windows system on that machine  (or more accurately a couple of Windows applications OneDrive and OneNote) for the Dow's pharmacy documentation project I'm working on, and I thought it might be useful to run a second supported  operating system on the machine.

So I let the installer suggest the partition sizes - remember I was experimenting to see how good or otherwise the new installer was and was simply following the defaults.

I thought the suggested partition sizes  were perhaps a little optimistic given that Windows 10 typically takes about 16GB, but I went with them out of curiosity, even though a full install of Ubuntu desktop is said to need something between 12 and 15GB.

As I expected, the install crapped out at the end of the process having filled the Ubuntu partition.

Lesson learned - I'd say give both Ubuntu and Windows around 25GB each. On a machine with a 128GB SSD that might be a bit generous if you have a lot of data, but if you've 256GB or more of local store I don't see you having a problem doing this.

I didn't actually repeat the exercise or test to see if Windows 10 still booted with its squeezed partition, truth be told I had other things to do that evening than play with partition managers, so I simply repeated the install process, but second time around went for the 'nuke everything' option.

This worked perfectly - in about forty minutes I had a working Ubuntu machine, and what's more one that ran reasonably well - which was gratifying given the age of the hardware.

To allow me to play with it a little, I revived my Ubuntu One account, added livepatch support, installed a couple of extra application - kate and focuswriter and added a printer, configuring my FX Docuprint 115w as a Brother HL-1050, set up mail and firefox syncing.

My plan is to use it for a few days to play about with, including the Gramps genealogy package whose lead development platform is linux to see how things go.

Once I've finished playing my plan is to reinstall linux, perhaps a pure Debian install this time and set it up with a single default user before taking it for disposal as e-waste ...

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