Category Archives: Laptops

Why one should not buy secondhand Laptops!

I had the painful experience of resurrecting an old Toshiba laptop over the Easter weekend.

It was the time of resurrection of Jesus and took the challenge not knowing what a lot of time it would take.
in my case it was the longest time I spent in doing a similar in that time I would have resurrected three old IBM desktops.
Anyway to cut the story short and to keep my reputation intact, I went down to work with serious intent.

Japanese and Korean Laptops are the worse in this context since they have finicky hardware and finding drives especially in Linux is difficult if not impossible.

Problems I encountered were
1. the RAM which was 512 was not enough to boot even 2010-2011 versions of Linux (even xFce and LXDE).

2. Combo drive was not working properly and the first thing I detected was that the DVD was not working. Even the CD ROM was painfully slow moving. Could not read high speed data written Linux CDs

3. I did not have the USB boot up but Floppy disk boot up and I did not want to waste checking the Floppy Drive.

4. Processor was 2.0 Hertz which was faster than most of my old computers and graphic was working OK.

5. Could mount a CD and connect to the Internet instantly so I decided that it is worth at least as a spare computer to access Internet and post an email.

6. Sound was difficult to configure but one can plug in a USB sound card and the two USB ports were bit rusty of use but working OK.

I fished out some of my old Linux CDs and it booted up well with PCLinux (SAM-the Mouse)-2007 (has Skype, Open Office and many light weight games) which was the only distribution that could run the CD ROM on its optimum speed. Did not try Puppy since with the poorly working CD (combo with DVD not working) repeated CD run was not an option.

Booted up with 10th Anniversary Knoppix CD (not DVD) and it booted well,
Used its gparted and deleted all the old Microsoft partitions and make one NTFS partition and 4 other partitions (1 rersefs, two Ext 4 and 1 SWAP with 2 GiB) and installed Knoppix and browsed Internet.

Mounting the second Linux was the most difficult part all new Linux distributions I tried either froze due to CD Rom freezing or the RAM freezing.
I was about to give up when I realize that peppermint would of 450 odd MiB was worth a try.

I booted it up with normal mode but it also froze but as a final try I tried it with compatible mode which is for old computers.
It really did the trick and this old laptop without Microsoft is now running with two Linux distributions.

Knoppix takes the crown (CD version) and it was the only one which did not freeze.Its file compression is extremely good and now can it be installed with root permission granted if you decide to do so after initial installation.

Peppermint comes close second and thanks to all the guys and girls for producing light weight versions.

Peppermint of course have all the Google application, gParted and Dropbox too.

Those are the two Linux distributions I recommend if one is prepared to spend time to resurrect any old laptop..
After that I told my friend he has to buy at least another 512 and DVD ROM which is very difficult to find even secondhand.

I told my friend do not use the CD and sealed it with a tape (in case I need to reinstall Linux-rarely happens, though) and it is good as gold to browse the Internet for another five years.

The bottom line is do not buy secondhand laptops even if they are pretty cheap and especially if there is no boot facility for USB booting.

None of my Flash Drives with UNetBootIn did work with this laptop.
Do not get caught to gullible secondhand vendors.

Postscript

If one wants to svae time one could have uesd an external dirve to do the job and I have several (DVD witers) of them but thay are not used for odd jobs but only image writing.

I recommend netbook for laptop which can be eaily booted up with a USB Key.

I hate heavy luggage to do simple jobs.

One should check the battery before any of these and  if the battery is not chargin it is not worth the try.

Luggage and Laptops

It was World Cup Cricket Saturday. I got up late decided to stay at home but did not want go out thinking I might get late and miss the first 10 overs where the game seems to be decided.
I was almost confident Sri-Lanka will be in the semifinals barring bad weather and poor ground preparations.

In any case I bought a new TV Card (PCI plugging) with facilities for recording and tried on one of my Linux computers BUT unfortunately even though it had a TV software it did not configure the new hardware.

Then on second thoughts I thought of trying the LAPTOP I was using for testing Sinhala Linux and few other Linux distributions on which I installed Win 2007 starter pack.

While I was doing this I counted the number of little, little gadgets on the table and there were 12 in all which included the power pack and the USB battery I used in case of power surge or drop in voltage due to everybody watching the cricket.

This is one thing I hate about laptops, so many luggage, in fact a gunny load of gadgets

The list goes like this.
1. Battery cooler (one UEB port).

2. Extension for extra USB potrs (two USB ports).

3. USB Mouse (now three ports adorned).
I hate fiddling with the laptop flat mouse. I prefer a real meaty mouse. which I can grip and squeeze when I annoyed which is generally the case till windows find a driver.

4. Power connector

5. UPS battery.

6. Power connection cord with multiple plug holes

7. TV USB circuit

8. Antenna

9. Mouse pad

10. Microphone or Speakers

11. USB extension cord to prevent clutter and get TV single.

12. CDs to install drivers and any instructions that come with the gadgets.

With all this I managed to get the TV single with cricket except other channels but I could not get Microsoft  to configure audio codecs and a message that the audio was not available..
This is something I hate, the drivers with Microsoft and OEM vendors.
It used to be the story with Linux 10 years ago but Linux will identify and configure audio automatically.
I hope by next Cricket World Cup will have a search engine to detect any TV single over the globe especially in villages set up where TV signals are weak and after the cricket can be used for education abd games for children through TV.