Category Archives: Misc

Reviving old hardware with Linux

A few months ago I decided it was time to replace my old laptop. It is an Acer Aspire 1302 series, with AMD AthlonXP @ 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM and 20 GB hard disk. As I wrote in the previous article about openSuSE 11.1, this machine is now so deprecated compared to today’s mini netbooks, that searching the net for “Acer Aspire 1300” returns almost entirely shops for battery replacements. It’s true, the main problem with old laptops like this is finding a “live” battery, so that it runs as a real “moving” laptop and not pugged into a power socket all the time. Of course, The second major problem is that, if someone wants to be up-to-date in some serious programming (or other) suite, every new software version renders the machine slower and slower…and slower……and slower…………..

Until now, my laptop used to “struggle” under Windows XP Home SP2. I had the chance to get a spare hard disk exactly as the one bundled with this model and I decided it was time to put the current disk away as-is and try something entirely new from scratch with the new disk, something more efficient and lightweight. I had already tried several live-CD distributions (primarily Linux) and most of them they ran smoothly, despite the tight fit into 512MB of RAM.

A set of live-CD tests, along with comments on performance and screenshots, are available on my website.

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Everyday’s downtown adventure

It’s funny how easy it is to start the day with a specific “mind-conditioning” and, without even realizing it, ending up with another, just a few hours later. Maybe that’s why the tourists and foreigners who happen to see one of the (almost daily) demonstrations in the center of Athens can not understand how this is “just another day” for the rest of us.

Knowing that the center was blocked early in the morning, I went out heading to the University across town with the very real possibility of never getting there on time or never getting there at all. Underground, the city functions as coordinated and busy as always, people coming in and out of the metro stations normally. Above ground, the center looks like it’s mid-summer and half the population is on vacations. Almost no cars at all in some areas, tourists watch the “crazy Greeks” walking by demonstrators and heavy police forces completely indifferent, as if this happens every day (and it almost does). Tourists look around surprised, taking pictures, wondering if this is a national holiday or something, since many of the “restless natives” are sitting back in coffee shops, reading newspapers, laughing, arguing, nobody seems to care about it.

Well, since I’m not a tourist, I wouldn’t be an exception. I went out in the morning, stressed up and looking at my watch regularly, sending messages that I’m gonna be late. But when I realized that it was simply impossible to get to the University, at least not before all was done in our group meeting with colleagues and everyone else had left, suddenly everything became more “relaxed”. Half an hour later I was drinking my double-espresso too, reading a newspaper, just spending the time that I had already allocated to the meeting before returning to the rest of today’s work…