Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Salvage

I salvaged three fairly old notebook computers from the trash at work today.

A HyperData (never heard of them) something-or-other
A Compaq LTE 5100
and a Toshiba T4600

I haven't had a chance to determine what condition they are in. Possibly this weekend.

Nor have I really thought about what I'll do with them. It was a spur of the moment grab.

If they are in (or can be returned to) working condition, I may make Linnux machines out of them.

I welcome any suggestions. Phil?

Later,

8 people have spouted off:

tom said...

My suggestion is that you bug Phil about it--he's smart.

John said...
Yup, that's the plan.
7/19/06, 6:53 PM
phil said...

Yeah, bug that crazy linux guy.

phil said...

Ok, it's a bit difficult without knowing the specs and such, but basically as long as you have a couple gigs harddrive and at least 64 Mb Ram, you can get linux running on them. Anything faster is a bonus and you can use fancier things. Any extra hardware features are a bonus and should be taken advantage of. For example, if it has a dvd drive, you could make it into a portabel dvd player/music player - the problem with this is that the built-in speakers are probably pretty crappy, but that's easily remedied with some external speakers. Or you could turn one into a digital picture frame - don't need much at all for that. If any of them have wireless capabilities, you could turn it into a wifi network locator.

As far as the hardware goes, you're on your own - I can't do much without being there. Replacement parts are probably nearly impossible to find or prohibitively expensive - unless you can find some of the same models on ebay for spare parts. Laptop harddrives and RAM are pretty standard. Just make sure you're getting the right type of RAM.

If you just want to get a generic linux system running you can get DSL linux (http://damnsmalllinux.org) which should run on pretty basic hardware. Or if they have pretty good specs you could try Knoppix (http://knopper.net) which is a bigger download, but with a nicer graphical environment and more software.

For a permanent linux installation, you could try Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com) - it's fairly easy to install and has wireless internet capabilities and such.

With the laptops, you might have problems with display modes using the various linux distributions - if linux tries using a display mode that the laptop doesn't like you'll get some strange effects. Most of them will have options to use a generic 640x480 display mode which should work. Ubuntu should detect the display and use a proper mode.

One usefull application would be to use one as a secondary internet terminal at home - like if you need to check your email, but you're watching a movie or playing a game on your main computer.

You could even use synergy (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net) to share a single keyboard/mouse between computers without a hardware kvm switch. It works even if one computer's running windows and the other linux.

John said...
"As far as the hardware goes, you're on your own - I can't do much without being there. Replacement parts are probably nearly impossible to find or prohibitively expensive - unless you can find some of the same models on ebay for spare parts. Laptop harddrives and RAM are pretty standard. Just make sure you're getting the right type of RAM."

Duh, really? Thanks, Phil.

I wanted suggestions for what to do with them, not how to fix them. That much, I can handle. CET, remember?
7/21/06, 7:11 PM
phil said...

Or you could try this: http://www.beowulf.org/

of course if you get all three computers working and clustered, you'll still have a pretty small cluster - but it would be cool just to do it.

phil said...

that last link might not give you much. Try this one http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/html_single/Beowulf-HOWTO/

phil said...

I just did a quick search for the specs on the two laptops that you listed model numbers for. The compaq has a 90 MHz Pent. I with 8 Mb Ram and 800 Mb Harddrive. The Toshiba is a 33 Mhz 486 with 4 Mb Ram.

That's pretty crappy, but you could get linux doing something on there.