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Hot Rodding Your Slightly Dated Laptop For Fun and Profit - page 3

Wrenching On A Laptop?

  • November 18, 2002
  • By Rob Reilly
  1. Cost. If you've been using a laptop for a while, chances are that Linux will run great on it. Two-, three-, or four-year-old machines are prime candidates. Many times laptops feed an ego and people get new ones every few years to keep up the image. Used ones are getting more plentiful all the time. Most of the drivers have been sorted out and everything usually loads without any major effort.

    Plus, if you look around, somebody might even give you their "old, obsolete" machine. If the laptop is a very early Pentium or 486, you can probably still use it as an X terminal on your network. Take a look at the Linux Terminal Server Project. If someone gives you a laptop, try not to look too anxious and be sure to tell them how spiffy their new mega gigahertz Pentium 12 sub-notebook looks.

  2. The older laptops had screens that were easily managed in a notebook form. My 14.1 inch 1024 x 768 16M color display works great. I can put it on a client's desk and actually see the client because the screen isn't too tall. Lots of newer laptops have bigger screens that just seem overwhelming while sitting on the table in an important meeting. You will certainly have enough attention running Linux on your machine to begin with--no sense in aggravating the situation with a huge LCD.

  3. A 300-Mhz PII laptop can comfortably sit on your lap without burning the tops of your thighs to crispy cinders. The only way to position a 1.0-Ghz plus machine on your lap is to keep the power turned off.
  4. Security and stealth. Laptops get stolen all the time. Put your refurbished PII Linux laptop in a "slightly" tattered computer bag and go on the road in stealth mode. Who's going to steal a derelict old laptop in a raggedy old computer bag? My lawyer brother gets the credit for this idea. You know how "thrifty" and cautious lawyers can be. Great idea, though. Do backups on a regular basis (I use an external USB Iomega ZipCD 650 burner) , keep the CDs in your packed luggage, and be confident that if the machine does get stolen, you aren't out two or three thousand dollars. You can also take comfort in knowing that you have an extremely powerful, cutting edge, server/workstation that just doesn't look like much, until you power up and plug in to the network. The one upmanship value here is excellent.
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