Notebook Annoyances

One of the major problems I have with travel (at least out of NJ) is the need for decent connectivity to work.

Now, I would not worry as much, since – usually – I could bring a couple small items with me and just borrow someone else’s PC (preferably one with a large enough monitor, so the RDP to work will not freak out). This is what I did during last year’s trip to my father’s house, and it made the flight *so* much easier to deal with.

This time, however, its a bit different. First, its a personal preference of mine to only borrow a system from either very-long-time friends or from family, since in those cases I’m not overly worried about what they may see while I’m logged in. Second, the VPN is now checking if an anti-virus scanner is up and running on the connecting system (and only allows XP or 2K right now). And, I’ve pledged to bring at least one notebook to Mysterium in order to help with various projects on-site.

So, this is why I’m currently undergoing the hell again of a re-install of XP on the old HP notebook (2 hours and counting!). It was running Linux quite nicely (and even had Windows 7 32-bit on it for a few days), but those happy experiments were due to losing my original media. Obviously, I’ve corrected that (the replacement from HP came in yesterday), and the first part of a dual-boot with Win7 is underway.

Of course, that’s not stopping me from re-examining how I setup the hardware. The old 7200 RPM disk from the Sager got dropped in before this rebuild, and there are 2 x 1 gig memory sticks en-route. Still a ton cheaper to do that, then to price out a replacement notebook; So far, about 15% of the quote I got from Lenovo (and that was *after* a 40% ‘shared’ EPP discount). So far I expect the only caveat to be less battery life, but it was already near the 4-hour mark so making that a bit less is *not* an issue…

Hopefully the new setup will be finished by Saturday (just did reboot #5 under XP-Update *sigh*). Crossing fingers…

–TSK

Upgrades, Part 2

Two good pieces of news in the notebook front:

-> Pulled out the 40 gig from its little case (the one I’ve been using to make it my Debian Slug disk) and looked up the part number on Toshiba’s site. It’s a 5400 RPM, and is the same size as the old Sager and HP disks. I can live with the 100 Meg/sec spec as given, that’s more than I’ll normally draw in most instances, other than installs. The 16 Meg buffer is a *very* nice plus though!

-> Debian ‘lenny 2’ installed just as beautifully as Etch did, with the added bonus of a working wireless card (after getting the firmware setup of course – for which a link to the appropriate instructions was included in the ‘dmesg’ boot sequence). That is a first for me and Linux, and doubly pleased when I discovered that in Linux, I had more hotspots mapped out and with better strengths than in WinXP (most locked though, good move in an apartment building ;) ).

So, new plans:

1) Put 40 gig disk in HP, re-install ‘Lenny 2′ and get wireless up again.

2) 60 gig disk goes in the external case (which is USB-2 and FireWire), re-format with ext3 and FAT16 partitions. Probably 40/20, respectively.

3) Drop a VirtualBox Guest OS (WinXP) on the external disk. See if I can get the old Half-Life games running on it, plus a couple other things that are needed for work (and is only in, or works better with, Windows – like the Exchange webmail, that is a damn sight better to use in IE).

The eventual goal – if this all works – is to look into converting the desktop to Linux, or a Linux/WinXP dual-boot (the latter by dropping in a new SATA disk just for Linux). It will be nice to finally use all 4G of the current system’s memory; It can hold 8G IIRC but I’d have to consider a dual-boot with Vista instead of XP to make that upgrade a more viable reality.

The only major issues I see in the games department are Oblivion (’nuff said) and perhaps Uru (though the CC variant I believe will run on Wine OK). Hence the sad need for a dual-boot – I don’t know if even a Quad-Core will be able to run something like Oblivion in a VM well.

–TSK

PS – As so the NSLU2 ‘Slug’ body, its been put away again. Once I’m happy with Linux on the HP, it can sit on the table when not ‘on duty’ and be used as the long-duration login system. Lord, I did not realize how much I depended on UNIX console access until I actually tried a system without one…

Much Fun /w Upgrades…

Lots of things in the last couple days:

-> Upgrade both my sites to WP 1.6.1; Unfortunately that also required I switch off of Fantastico and onto something called ‘Simple Scripts,’ but the interface does not look *too* bad and I guess I’ll just have to watch and see…

-> The two notebooks had their HDDs swapped. Now the HP has the Sager’s 7200 RPM disk, which makes it much snappier but also quite a bit hotter (I still have a 40 gig lying around from the Slug that, if faster than 4800 rpm, may become the ‘final’ disk here). The other downside was that I cannot find the HP notebook’s XP media disk. So…

-> The HP now is running Debian. Also, very good response, snappy boot time, and looking good – other than wireless (WTF is Etch doing on 2.6.18 still?). *sigh* I downloaded the ‘lenny’ netinstall ISO and will try that next.

-> The Sager is pretty much a write-off at this point, due to a combo of its weight and the lack of a even-close-to-modern video card. Again, I’m willing to part it out, for anyone interested, or sell the unit as a whole. It *will* play Uru TPOTS/CC just fine. It just barely (today) will do SL, but it should be OK with There.com as well.

/salute
–TSK