A quick job almost always ends up taking hours, and something that you think will be a simple, inexpensive quick fix, entails buying half a new machine.
Well, perhaps not quite, but it often seems the case.
Anyway, I’ve been canniba lizing some of the many old boxes I had laying around here.
Kathy had been complaining about her computer for some time. Ok, it really was slow, and I think I’d have been issuing death threats to it as well by now. A combination of it being only a Celeron CPU (one of those cheap make pretend processors), and PWD (Progressive Windows Disease) saw to that.
What’s Progressive Windows Disease?
Oh, every machine running Windows gets it, sooner or later, particularly, if you make regular use of the system.
WIndows is lousy at memory management, and lousy at keeping its registry (the master index if you like) in order. The former is what slows done your machine after you’ve open and closed a dozen programs in one session (as Windows doesn’t always free up all the memory for other programs), and the latter means that your computer’s hard drive ends up thrashing about looking for stuff, because Windows itself can’t remember where it’s stored it. That’s on top of all the other stuff like possibly getting spyware in your machine, or you’ve not defragged the drives in a while (neither of which Linux machines suffer from).
The only real cure, is to back up your data files, reformat the drive, and using the WIndows CD, that you got with your machine, re-install everything from scratch. The Windows installation takes anything from 30-40 minutes usually, but it can take a few days, to get everything you had back just as you like it (and that settings wizzard thing is, in my experience, another pile of junk).
Back to the project.
I had an old Dell machine with an Intel P4 in it, and 512MB RAM, and an 80GB HD, along with a DVD R/W. I plugged it in. It was as dead a dodo. I had another old Dell, with a Celeron and 256MB RAM next to it, so I swapped out the power supply, and lo! one working machine.
Now, I don’t have any Windows CDs for these Dells, so I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do, and reformat the whole thing. I did what I could. I removed all the old software that had been installed by the previous owner. I cleaned in the registry, defragged the drive, installed up to date Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware software, installed all the Windows updates I could find, removed the desktop links to that nasty vile Internet Explorer, and installed, and set as default a real web browser – FIrefox.
I set up Kathy’s Gmail, and Remember The Milk Accounts (we don’t use local email clients anymore). I also removed Ms Office, and installed OpenOffice instead. Yes it was a legally installed copy of MS Office, but I particularly do not want it on something with only a P4 CPU, as it’ll make the machine run like watching paint dry.
I installed additional hardware, such as printer, and scanner, and wireless network card. I installed the drivers for that, and set up the network. I took the TV card from the slow Celeron, and put that in this box too, and installed the hardware. I installed Joost, which is rather good for online TV. Finally took the memory from the old Celeron box (two 512MB sticks), and put those into this P4 Box, giving it 1GB instead of 512MB.
She’s happy with it so far.
Meanwhile, I took the old Celeron, and as I did have a Windows OEM CD for that, reinstalled the OS. I’m now using that myself purely as a communications machine – for Skype, IM, Magic Jack, IRC etc. I did find antother 512MB Stick of RAM, and so, as it only has 2 memory slots, I was able to put in 256+512, giving 768K in total, which is about the real absolute minimum I’d want to run an XP box with.
I think that putting the comms in the house onto a seperate box is a good idea as it frees up resources. WE have all our telephone communications through the computers here (Skype and Magic Jack) having kicked the overpriced BellSouth – now AT&T – into touch a few years ago). A set of headphones means I can have comfortable hands free phone conversations when I am working, and the Magic Jack connects to the standard cordless phone system in the house and gives us free calls throughout North America for $20 a year.
So that was what I did in my spare time recently. I never get bored.
I transferred the contents of “My Documents” from the old machine to this one. I
Tags: cars, celeron cpu, death threats, dell, few days, hard drive, linux, linux machines, master index, memory management, microsoft, old boxes, processors, rant, rubbish, scratch, spyware, system windows, windows cd, windows installation