I have a new (old) laptop – lots of interesting posts coming soon!

Hi everyone!

As the title may suggest, I have bought a new (actually very old) laptop. While this probably isn’t terribly interesting to you at first, it means I can try out more things and report my findings here.

That is, assuming I find anything at least vaguely interesting 😀 Anyway:

The laptop, and why I bought it.

So, I bought this laptop primarily because I wanted some low-end hardware to test my programs on, something bad enough that most people would have something better. Might seem a little silly, but my desktop is a quad-core i5 machine with 16GB of RAM, so… it’s not very representative of what most people are actually using. I also wanted to PXE boot (network boot) by virtual machines, so I can do all the maintenance and updates on my fast desktop, and just boot them with the laptop when I want to test.

My new old laptop
You can tell it’s old just by looking at it, really 🙂
Quite a nice display, and also a decent keyboard, albeit with a few keys missing.
Quite a nice display, and also a decent keyboard, albeit with a few keys missing.

What I ended up with is actually much better than what I thought I’d have. Setting myself a budget of around £20, I managed to blag a Fujitsu Siemens ESPRIMO v5535, with 2GB ram, and 80GB hard drive and a celeron capable of running Windows 10 (I also wanted to shove my windows trials on this for website testing). Argh. After £20 of upgrades, I now have a much more capable core 2 duo, and a 320GB hard drive. It also came with what was a pretty good matte 1280×800 display at the time.

The catch?

Well, for £20 there was going to be a catch XD. It overheated really badly (idles in the 70 degree Celsius range!), but I had some thermal paste so I bought it anyway. The good thing was it ran much better with new paste, but the bad thing was the screws on the bottom were so burred I had to, um, drill them out. Yeah. Not exactly what you want to do to something you’ve just purchased, but it turned out okay, but it was really scary!

Rant incoming:

Also, I absolutely HATE the video card and the NIC on this machine. They’re both made by SiS (Silicon Integrated Systems), and neither have any proper driver support. On Linux, I had to use 3rd party graphics drivers with no 3D support, and the NIC needs very specific config to work at all, and on Windows there are no graphics drivers at all for anything newer than Vista. And who wants to run Vista?! Miraculously, the Vista drivers work on Windows 7 and 8.1, but no dice at all on Windows 10. Oh well. Not bad for £20.

(rant over)

So why are you telling me this anyway?

Well, using this laptop I can test new Linux distributions more easily, on hardware that’s probably much worse than what you’re all using; if stuff runs well on this, it will give you an idea of how well it will run on your systems 🙂 I will also be doing a detailed how-to on PXE booting, because almost none of the information I found in my hours of research was up to date, and a lot of it was just plain wrong. Also what’s good is, as of this morning, I’m now a member of the Ubuntu Community Wiki team, so I can (and will) update those wiki pages I was trying so hard to use.


I have a new, 10-year-old laptop that I’ll be using to do more Linux distro reviews for you guys, and I will also be making some how-tos on network booting with Ubuntu and Fedora (still haven’t got Fedora working at the time of writing, because of my NIC). There will also be a myriad of other posts coming soon, because I finally feel like I have some time to dedicate to this blog 🙂 I’m also about to update my website to use databases and some other cool stuff, so keep an eye on the github repository if you’re interested.


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About Hamish McIntyre-Bhatty

I'm a self-employed software developer working on Free Software projects, as well as studying for my degree with the Open University. Being pedantic when it comes to detail is fortunately useful for both of these things! A strong believer in free software, I have a few pay-for programs available under the GPLv3 and enjoy reporting bugs and helping to improve various open source projects, including volunteering at Wimborne Model Town to work on their river control system.

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