What to do with old laptop.. ideas?

Discussion in 'Computer Software and Operating Systems' started by zeromac, Jun 24, 2011.

Jun 24, 2011
  1. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    Well I've had this laptop (Toshiba Satellite M70) for awhile now and its gotten pretty useless since I've gotten my desktop at the start of the year. I've replaced the batteries in it recently due to the laptop not being able to last more then 1 hour web browsing. Hell it practically lives off the life support that is AC power. So currently its shoved under my bed until i can find a better use for it so I was hoping to find some suggestions here. The specs for this beast is as follows:

    1.86ghz cpu
    Intel intergrated graphics chip
    2GB of ram
    15 inch screen
    60GB HDD

    I was thinking of turning it into a media center with the help of XBMC or using it as a testing grounds to try out OSX on it.

    Any suggestions on what to use it for would be great [​IMG]
     
  2. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    Anyone?..
     
  3. emigre

    Member emigre Has complex motives

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,919
    Location:
    London
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Make it into an emulation arcade?
     
  4. Scorpei

    Member Scorpei GBAtemp Maniac

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    1,295
    Country:
    Netherlands
    1. emulation
    2. music station
    3. OSX install
    4. Simple internet machine for in the kitchen (great for checking out recepis)
    5. download + music&video server (the proc is fast enough) --> NAS

    Just a few suggestions, naturally 3 can come first and then any of the other options (which could also be combined [​IMG]).
     
  5. Urza

    Member Urza hi

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,493
    Country:
    United States
  6. pistone

    Member pistone GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2010
    Messages:
    504
    Location:
    in your heart...coz secretly you love me !!!!
    Country:
    Albania
    leave it on spine and make it a linux server
     
  7. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    Would my laptop even be able to run Snow Leopard and/or potentially Lion?
     
  8. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    913
    Location:
    Probably being lazy.
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    [​IMG]


    Srsly though, put Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, SuSE (Lol SuSE), Fedora, Arch, Gentoo, Sabayon, whatever flavor seems to fancy you the most on it. Toshiba has great support in terms of Linux. Every Toshiba laptop I've thrown Linux on for someone has had the Wireless card work straight out of the box.
     
  9. Urza

    Member Urza hi

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,493
    Country:
    United States
    If it runs at all (actual component names would be helpful here), it will most likely not run well an a Dothan arch P-M.

    You'd be much better off trying Tiger.
     
  10. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    913
    Location:
    Probably being lazy.
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Urza's right.


    Judging by the rough specs in your first post zeromac, it's doubtful OSX 10.5 or above would even be able to install on it, and even if they did they'd probably be pretty slow. I'd hazard a guess based on Tiger's system requirements that there's a chance it might work, but I couldn't promise that it would. That is if you do make it into a Hackintosh.

    Personally I still say your best bet would be to install Linux of some flavor on it. I personally favor Arch Linux, but if you prefer something that's a little bit nicer looking and has a user-freindly GUI installer, I'd say go with Ubuntu (If you must use Unity, use the 2D Version), Mint (Regular Edition), Debian, Linux Mint Debian Edition, or something of that sort.

    I wouldn't advise installing Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneric Ocelot) though, unless you like testing out stuff that may inevitably break like I do. Even then I only install it in a VM. Use 11.04 (Natty Narwhal), or some other distro
     
  11. Blaze163

    Member Blaze163 The White Phoenix's purifying flame.

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,767
    Location:
    Coventry, UK
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Send it to me since some ass clown hacked into my netbook and totally F'd up Windows a few days ago. I've got about 5 programs that work, everything else refuses to respond. Plus better technology (anything's better than this bare bones basic model) would be beneficial to my continuing pursuit of a career in the video game media world as I'd be able to do more, be it video reviews, better word processing programs, etc.

    I will of course make it worth your while in some fashion.
     
  12. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    913
    Location:
    Probably being lazy.
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Find another compy, download some iso's of a Linux based Live Antivirus CD, Scan your computer, kill anything it finds, and if that doesn't work, then panic.

    I don't think he's going to send you his old laptop dude, not when some use could still be milked out of it.
     
  13. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    Hmm I am really tempted to install a Linux distro on it since I always see such praise of it here on these forums and elsewhere but what I want to know is, how functional is Linux? (ie. can it run .exe files or what can it be used for)

    That or I could turn it into a media center but I don't watch that much TV/shows/movies anyways :/
     
  14. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    913
    Location:
    Probably being lazy.
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Lets see

    Installing Wine allows you to run some .exes (You'll need to check WineDB online for specific program compatibility). Steam installs and runs flawlessly for the most part. PlayOnLinux makes installing supported games a bit nicer and user-friendly.

    .exe files are not natively supported by Linux, and for good reason too.

    Functionalitywise...I could list everything, but I'd probably run out of room in my post. You get/have access to stuff like Libreoffice (Full blown office suite) GIMP (Graphics Manipulaton), Firefox/Chromium/Whatever (Web Browsers), Terminal (Command Line, and learn to use it well, it will be one of your greatest tools at your disposal as a Linux user), Games (Including Emulators such as ZSNES, Gens, Gnuboy, Mupen64, and pretty much everything you could think of), Different Desktop Environments (Gnome 3+Gnome-shell, KDE4, Xfce4, LXDE, Unity (Ubuntu), Openbox, etc), Media Players (Rhythmbox, Banshee, DeadBeeF, Amarok, and the list goes on and on), Video Players (VLC, SMPlayer, MPlayer, etc). Virtualization too (Virtualbox allows you to run Windows in a virtualized machine without having to actually install it locally on your OS, you just need the install disk/iso and a key)

    Your best bet is to download either an Ubuntu or Linux Mint Live CD and try it out (If it's on a laptop, make sure you hook it into an ethernet port first if your wireless card isn't supported), browse the software center and literally blow your own mind away at all of the different application and functionality.

    Again, wireless wise I can't promise your card will work out of the box. If it does, great! Otherwise you'll need to patch into an ethernet connection as I mentioned before, and do some research on the exact model of wireless card to see what you need to do to get it to work.

    Codec wise, MP3 codecs, Adobe Flash, and several other utilities that are Propriatary cannot be included with the CD most of the time. Ubuntu gives you an option to install these at one point in it's installer if you have an internet connection. Mint seems to get away with including them, so you might want to go with Mint, provided you don't mind the color green (It's irrelivant anyway, as the entire OS interface for the most part is extensively themable)

    Get used to Linux asking for your password to install stuff and run administrative stuff, it uses privalages and permissions like no other OS does. It's really just making sure it's really you, and to be honest there is 0% chance they will change this.

    Finally, the part I cant stress enough, is having seperate partitions for

    Home (Where your home directories go), identified as /home
    Root (Where the OS, Roots Home Directory, and eveything else goes)
    Swap (Don't ever not give your machine swap)

    The reason why I can't stress it enough, is having /home and / on different partitions allows you to reinstall your distro and keep all of your documents, pictures, files, etc. The only thing needing to be reinstalled are the applications themselves, which often reside somewhere in / , provided that you meet the following criteria

    • Do not tell the installer to format the drive you put /home on (Make a note of it's /dev/sdx tag) (NEVER FORMAT /HOME!)
    • Give the installer the same user information, including Actual Name, username, password, etc as you did while installing it the first time

    Here's a good example of what your drive should typically be partitioned like

    Root ( / )
    Partition Size: 15-20GB
    Should only be 15-25GB at Max, unless you have a really big drive and want to spare some)

    Swap ( /swap )
    Partition Size: 2x Physical RAM, or 2x Whatever the amount of PhysicalRAM you will have in the machine at any point
    Reason: Your computer cannot use Hibernate or some other useful and critical features without a good deal of swap, as it has to store whatever was in RAM in swap. If the amount given isn't adequate, your OS will never give you an option to hibernate or suspend, even if you explicitely tell it to show them, they most likely will be greyed out. So for example if you think you're gonna have 4GB of ram in your machine at some point, even if you don't currently have that much, then make the /swap partition 8GB. In fact, if you want to play it safe, give /swap 8GB one way or the other.
    Linux swap is often more efficient by the way than a Windows Swap file

    /home
    Partition Size: Whatever's leftover, but this should always be the majority of your drives space, as it gives you more room for actuall files, since Applications rarely, if ever reside in /home which is where your home directory resides in this case. Applications that reside in root typically take a sliver in Linux of what they would apposed to Windows.

    In Linux we don't use drive letters, (heh....drive letters....how cute...not!), we use stuff like this

    /dev/sdx# (Where x could be any letter depending on the type of drive, and # is a number assigned to it for identification)

    Additionally we also use /dev/sdx (Again, where x could be any letter depending on the type of drive) without the number to represent the entire drive in general.

    In fact Zeromac, PM me your hard drive size, and I'll whip up a quick partitioning table scheme for you based on it.

    EDIT: Just looked up the specifications on it, all I can say is that unless you did upgrade the HDD (And you might want to based on what I found out), it's kinda...well It's gonna be pressed for space.

    It has a 80GB SATA (Cant find out if it's a 2 or 1, Guessing it's a SATA2), drive. If you're willing to spend a bit, I'd go out and get a 250GB or 320GB 2.5 inch internal SATA drive, and throw it in that sucka (A SATA3 will still work in a SATA2 drive bay). It'll work, and I recommend staying away from Seagate like the black plauge (Bash me nao seagate fans!), go with Western Digital. Never had problems with WD drives ever before.

    Based of HDD capcities, here's my recommended Paritioning schemes

    80GB (You'll probably really be able to use 74-78GB "Curse manufacturers and their base 10", Computers use base 16 btw)

    / (Root): 18GB
    /home (Home): 54GB
    /swap: 6GB

    Yeah, you might wanna splurge a bit and get a bigger drive, 80GB is gonna be a bit small.

    250GB (Again, you'll likely be able to use 233gb, due to the base 10/base 16 difference)
    / (Root): 25GB
    /home (Home): 180GB
    /swap (Swap) 8GB
    /tmp (Temporary): 20GB

    Note: I added a /tmp or temporary partition into this schematic, for one reason. Having a seperate /tmp partition helps your root partition if a program suddenly goes rouge (Aka it stops behaving), and starts eatiing it, as it will only fill up /tmp and eventually crash as it no longer has the space. Additionally /tmp is cleared on boot, which means it will always start out empty. 20GB is plenty for ripping stuff, having a torrent program going, and a few other things using it at the same time. /tmp is essentually where any data is stored temporarily before being moved to another partition

    320GB (Once again, you'll likely be able to use only 298GB of this, for the same reasons as mentioned before)
    / (Root): 30GB
    /home (Home): 235GB
    /swap (Swap) 8GB
    /tmp (Temporary): 25GB

    If you go with any bigger drive such as a 500GB or higher, adjust the partitions accordingly, but always make the majority of it your /home partition. The OS itself when initially installed takes about 4GB-8GB, and once you've got a good deal of programs installed it can range anywhere from 10GB to 15 or so.

    Make notes on which partitions are which and memorize them, for example if Root is on /dev/sda1, home is on /dev/sda2, make sure you note /home so that you don't accidentally tell the installer to format it in case you end up reinstalling your distro or installing another one. If you fail to do this and you do tell it to format the partition, kiss your data goodbye.
     
  15. keasy

    Member keasy GBAtemp Regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    133
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Love the OSX option.

    I've been toying with the idea myself of running an OSX install on my own main desktop purely because I'm getting into video editing more and more so Final Cut interests me.

    The current releases of OSX 10.7 Golds doing the rounds makes it an even more attractive prospect for me.

    Other than that I'd use it as GUI admin tool for any game servers I run.
     
  16. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    What would you guys recommend as a flavour of Linux to install onto my machine? I'm not quite sure how to replace/add another HDD to my laptop but I think it might be doable..
     
  17. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    913
    Location:
    Probably being lazy.
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Replacing the HDD is BS easy.

    1. unscrew the cover that's on the back with a symbol that looks like 3 disk platters.

    2. take the old drive out, remove the screws holding the EMI cover from around the sides.

    3. You take said EMI shielding and put it on the new drive, along with the screws.

    4. You take the sticky tab on the top and put it on the new drive.

    5. Pop new drive into drive bay

    6. Put cover back over drive bay

    7. Boot computer

    8. Put Linux/OS disk in, maybe reboot if needed.

    9. ?????

    10. Profit!

    There are videos all over youtube detailing how to do this as well.


    Again if you get a bigger drive, make sure it's a SATA3. I read the specs on your old laptop, it uses SATA2, which a SATA3 drive will still work with, just at SATA2 speeds. Do not get an IDE/PATA drive.

    It also needs to be 2.5 inches long by no more than 9.5mm in depth, so nothing over 750GB (WD has one of these on newegg for $99 that fits in said drive bay, but is way overkill for your old pappy)
     
  18. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    Posting this from my new Ubuntu 11.04 powered laptop and I've got to say that I'm confused with what to do now, theres so much software on the software centre, almost comparable to Firefox's add-ons

    Also, the desktop seems extremly blank.. Does Ubuntu have desktop icons?..
     
  19. zeromac
    OP

    Member zeromac Finally reached 1000 posts EXACTLY

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    2,194
    Location:
    Earth
    Country:
    Australia
    I needed to double post for this but I was wondering, should i switch to Gnome 3 instead of Unity? Will compatiablity with software be affected?
     
  20. Nimbus

    Member Nimbus sudo /usr/bin make-me-a-coffee --nosugar --cream=1

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    913
    Location:
    Probably being lazy.
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Gnome-Shell requires 3d acceleration to work, and without it falls back to an ugly fallback mode. Additionally gnome3 apps use gtk3, in which there are little to no decent themes (there is a gtk3 version of ambiance, ubuntus default theme), which means any theme that lacks a gtk2.0 folder will look fugly, and any theme that lacks a gtk3.0 folder will make gtk3 apps look fugly. (this is why I put the gtk3.0 folder from Adin all of my murrina themes, so that at least I can use them and have my GTK3 apps look somewhat decent)

    I've also heard gnome3 and gnome-shell break unity.

    Stick with Unity or Xfce4.

    Also neither gnome-shell or unity use desktop icons. It's part of the design to keep it less cluttered. You can still access it through a file manager in the Desktop folder.
     

Share This Page