Author Topic: Saving an old laptop  (Read 3789 times)

jim555

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Saving an old laptop
« on: January 24, 2017, 07:19:27 PM »
I have an old Dell laptop, Pentium M, 1.2G, 80G HD, Windows XP.  I was considering getting rid of it, XP is insecure and I can't do much with it.

Figure why not try something new.  Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS was put on it.  Now it is very usable, and secure.  They did a good job with MATE and I don't have to dump it.

Mr Chin Stubble

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2017, 09:17:19 AM »
I have an old dell with xubuntu on it that was an old business lap top I got from my mom after she switched jobs/ they had surplus; and it works very well and fast.

She also has a lesser model dell laptop  with the same software and it does not work so good; slow and sluggish. It's still better than nothing when I go over there and want to lay down and read but no video or anything g like that.

nereo

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2017, 09:24:38 AM »
Love it!  First priority in living responsibly is to reduce waste (true whether you are talking finances or environmentally)

I've had good luck 'wiping' everything of old laptops and using those for internet/email/netflix.  Currently we have a 6 yr old laptop attached to our TV to stream netflix through and play DVDs on.  Works great, keeps it out of a landfill and eliminates any need to buy a set-top box or DVD player for doing the same thing since my TV is not "smart".

Mr Chin Stubble

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2017, 09:35:33 AM »
You can go online and find recyclers that will send you a prepaid box and everything.

They actually gave me 12 bucks for an average aspire low end model.

The power jack plug-in broke and after taking it apart twice -- in addition to my mom trying--which was very difficult to fix with screws everywhere -- figured that thing was toast. It only has 2 gig ram which was kinda slow and sluggish for today's applications

I was using a work laptop as my only computer at home for like a year. Which is ok . It doesn't feel like your own machine though. My mothers apple was giving white screen death lock; power chord problems; and a key became loose so having become frustrated gave it to me and bought a new one.

An operating system wipe out and reload; some crazy glue for the wayward key; and "just dealing with " the power chord issue and I've got a pretty good Mac ...(hers is faster tho)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 09:37:26 AM by Mr Chin Stubble »

Just Joe

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2017, 04:20:52 PM »
If Linux seems really slow on your computer, sometimes it is b/c there you just need the video driver installed (point and click usually) and turned on. That hasn't happened to me for a long time now. 

If you are trying to stream video (Netflix or Hulu or Amazon among others) you might need to look at Pepperflash or Pipelight which are like Adobe Flash and Silverlight - software provided by Adobe and microsoft but not available in Linux.

If anyone has questions just PM me and I'll help you.

Note that while i feel that (Mint) Linux is the best thing since sliced bread, your computer might be so old or lack enough RAM to be useful. I have had alot of success though.

FIRE me

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2017, 05:54:35 PM »
If you are trying to stream video (Netflix or Hulu or Amazon among others) you might need to look at Pepperflash or Pipelight which are like Adobe Flash and Silverlight - software provided by Adobe and microsoft but not available in Linux.

The easiest way is to install the latest Chrome browser. It recently has DRM built in to the browser. You might need to download it straight from Google, instead of what your package manager provides. It works perfectly for Amazon video, although I have no way to try it on Netflix. I am running Debian 8.

bortman

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2017, 07:06:51 AM »
Chiming in to offer my endorsement of Ubuntu MATE. I'm still on 12.04 at work, and 14.04 at home. I could never get used to Ubuntu's default Unity desktop and so I tried MATE because gnome 2 was at the end of its life. MATE has come a long way and is very stable now.

Mentioned earlier in the thread, but Linux Mint is a great option for low-horsepower older PCs and laptops.

RobFIRE

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2017, 08:01:04 AM »
Yes, a laptop made in the last 10 years or so will still be perfectly usable for general web, email and document use if you put Linux on it. If you really want to make it fly, then a solid state drive (SSD) will make a huge difference versus an old laptop hard drive, and if getting a used lower capacity drive (64 GB, 80 GB etc.) are cheap now.

No need to pick up a brand new netbook / chromebook / basic laptop when a used one will do the same job at a fraction of the cost and reusing an existing appliance (provided you're OK to use it plugged in as old laptop batteries all die eventually).

skeeder

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 06:13:08 AM »
Yes!  Put a small SSD in it in and let it fly. 

Those specs are really low, I'm guessing that laptop is circa 2005/2006?

ChpBstrd

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2017, 08:17:57 PM »
I thought "oh, a thread about repurposing old laptops. I'll chime in and recommend Ubuntu with the MATE desktop...

Oh. Guess everyone knows that trick now."

I have an old 32 bit toshiba in the kitchen that I use as an internet cookbook. I have an old desktop in the garage set up to stream Pandora via the Pithos app, which loads and starts playing upon startup. A pentium 4 and about a GB of RAM is actually snappy on this OS. If you're worse off than that, there are even lighter desktops.

jim555

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2017, 08:09:53 PM »
Yes!  Put a small SSD in it in and let it fly. 

Those specs are really low, I'm guessing that laptop is circa 2005/2006?
The laptop is so old it doesn't have a SATA connection for a SSD.  Many years ago I looked into it and SSDs with PATA connections didn't exist.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 08:33:13 PM »
My goto distro for cheap laptops is Xubuntu. It works out of the box on nearly anything, the UI is light and doesn't get in the way because it hasn't really changed in a decade. I recommend it to everyone who wants to give Linux a shot.

Optimiser

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 08:08:11 AM »
Any recommendations of resources for someone new to non windows operating systems to learn what is involved in installing a new OS on an old computer?

Just Joe

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 08:31:12 AM »
Sure, download a Linux LiveCD. In fact find a list of the most popular versions of Linux and download all of them. (see DistroWatch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution

Look at the family tree on the right side.

Then burn these distros to a CD (or DVD) in Windows or Linux or Mac.

On an older computer you likely need the 32 bit version of a particular Linux distro. ON a 64 bit machine you can install either 32 bit or 64 bit. On an older machine you can only install a 32 bit system and it will tell you so.

Learn to set your computer to boot from CD. (BIOS or F12 when the computer starts, different for different brands, Google for instructions about the boot menu particular to your computer)

Wait for 5 minutes or more for the disc to boot. It will be slower than if it is installed on the computer's hard drive.

Then play alot.

Attempt the point and click system installer. Repeat with all the different distro versions you want to try.

Once you find one that you like, start haunting the forums for that "brand" of distro (version).

Learn how to get the wireless to work on your laptop. Then use the web.

Then install and uninstall software until you find what you like for each task important to you.

Whatever you do, don't try this on a laptop that has important data stored on it b/c if you are like me - you'll crash it several times while tinkering. You want a guilt free ability to format the hard drive and go again.

It took me several distros before I landed on Mint Linux. Also I figured out along the way that I prefer the KDE desktop which isn't going to run on old hardware very well. Still - figured out which browsers, which office, which media players I liked the best. Was a period of exploration that made for alot of fun memories.

I'd follow the advice already given in this thread. A Ubuntu or derivative like Mint Linux with one of the lightweight desktops. I'd also recommend at least 1GB of RAM. eBay might be a good source for more RAM at a reasonable cost.

If you use one of the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint distros or derivatives here are some good websites:

Noobslab, LinuxQuestions, the Mint Linux forum, the Ubuntu forum, TecMint, OMGUbuntu, PlayDeb, GetDeb

FWIW I use Google when hunting for Linux help. For whatever reason Yahoo and Bing don't seem to deliver the most helpful results. You can copy/paste error messages from Linux into Google and keep simplifying (shortening) the error message until you find a result that is helpful.

Also, using Google for your searches, constrain the search results to the past year or two. 6 or 7 year old help isn't going to be relevant unless you choose to run 6-7 year old software - which I would not due to lots of improvements each year.   

Also - if you have a newish Windows computer you could run free Virtualbox with Linux inside to tinker without the risk of crashing a computer. Google "How to install Mint Linux in Virtualbox".

Play attention to the names of the software that you choose to run. If someone asks which browser or media player or picture editor you use, you ought to know that b/c any help you need will be specific to that software. Don't be like people I've tried to help for twenty years who complain their computer (any OS) is acting strange but don't know what kind of browser they use. To me it's like complaining about a car and wanting help solving some problem but not knowing if you drive a Buick or a Toyota.

jim555

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 08:37:31 AM »
Clonezilla is a good backup program.  Burn it to a CD/DVD or put it on a bootable USB drive. 

That way you can try out and revert back if you don't like it.

Just Joe

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2017, 08:40:07 AM »
Clonezilla is good stuff. I've used it at work many times.

hoping2retire35

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2017, 10:48:25 AM »
I have two similar(age, OS) laptops in the attic and have been wondering about doing the UBUNTU thing. just not sure what to do with it after that. kids toy?

Just Joe

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2017, 12:01:55 PM »
Email, surfing the net (Vivaldi browser), jukebox (Clementine), writing (LibreOffice, Storybook, Abiword, FocusWriter), or GRAMPS (genealogy)...

Anything is possible. What do you use a computer for now? Anything that doesn't require alot of processing power will probably be possible with an old computer.

Or - you could fix it up and give it away.

Many of the old computers I give away I "dban" the hard drive (military grade hard drive wipe) and then install some version of Mint Linux that works well with the older hardware. Then I create a label with the username and password on it and hand it off to Goodwill. Sometimes I will put a short note in an envelope inside to explain what they have - this is Linux. Here are safe websites for help. Here are the limitations - you have an old computer but as long as your expectations are reasonable I think you'll make great use of this machine. Etc. Etc.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Saving an old laptop
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2017, 12:56:17 PM »
I have two similar(age, OS) laptops in the attic and have been wondering about doing the UBUNTU thing. just not sure what to do with it after that. kids toy?

With a lean enough OS, a 10-year old computer will do everything a new computer will do except games and high definition video. A circa 2005 pentium 4 with Ubuntu Mate and an old 5400rpm spinning hard drive generally boots in under 2 minutes.

Would that prevent or delay the purchase of another computer? If so, saving a few hundred dollars is what it'll do for you. It's even more valuable to build the knowledge and skillset though.

Usually the limitation with laptops are the batteries. Check eBay for replacements at $10-15 if the performance of everything else is acceptable.