Post From An “Un-Junked” Computer

Self reliance means more than stacking cans of beans in the basement. Among other things it means tinkering. Without the mindset of “I can do it” (or perhaps “I can make do with it”), you’re just a pet and milk cow to the technologically adept (or the corporations that hire them). Yet the average person is as likely to service their iThing as they are to build a spaceship. Pansies!

I don’t always live up to my own ideals. (Don’t laugh, you don’t either.) For example, the era when I was modestly adept at computers has passed like the Paleozoic. In general that’s fine. In the iDominated world all I actually need is the ability to tweak gadgets just a little. The goal here is to prove to myself that I have options other than buying another disposa-gadget. For the most part obsolescence is an mellow gradual lifestyle progression. Also, get the hell off my lawn you damn kids!

Where was I? Oh yeah… a Curmudgeon of the Adaptive type, should always keep at least a few tricks up his technological sleeve. One of those is maintaining a perpetual low level distrust of the current two pronged operating system’s oligarchical squeeze between WinDoze and iDevices. Is it not wise to maintain at least sufficient skills to slap in a Linux variant? What other backstop is there against iZombies (or Bill Gates… but I repeat myself)?

Which brings me to today’s small victory. Mrs. Curmudgeon, who’s very happy with her new iSlab, had an old “netbook” lying around that I just resurrected. It was ignored, dusty, and hadn’t been used for years. I think we’d found it in a bargain bin at Wal-Mart for half the price of a Schwinn some 5 years ago. I’m attracted to discarded junk and it has a nice reddish color. The only drawback is that it was a gutless POS the day it was made and would be doubly so now.

The poor thing looked abandoned… and useless.

“Am I not man?” Though I. “As a user of tools and repurposer of things forgotten I shall restore this underpowered whelp to honorable utility.”

“Are you talking to things again?” Mrs. Curmudgeon asked. (I should learn to keep my thoughts to myself.)

It wasn’t hard. After a few hours charging (apparently it hadn’t been charged in over a year) it booted up. It took one boot cycle to realize it would be insufferable under its native OS (Win 7 Starter). (Side note, who the hell names an OS “starter” and what’s their mental state? What’s next? Win11.01 Lame? iGimp?)

It’s no big deal to download a new ISO copy of Mint and save it to a bootable USB. Booting from that, the critter ran well enough to be tolerable (if slow). I hit “install”, activated the “nuke the HDD from space” option, and let ‘er rip. I felt a tiny bit proud to be deleting the old craptacular OS. I sat around drinking beer while the overbearing tonnage of Windows bloat was exorcised. By the second beer the deed was done and it was testing time.

Success. It works. Its performance won’t win awards but it’s totally serviceable. At least I think it works. If you’re reading this then I know for sure. If you’re not reading this I’m just a codger typing text on a piece of junk for no good reason. Actually that might be true even if you are reading this.

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About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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11 Responses to Post From An “Un-Junked” Computer

  1. cspschofield says:

    Way back when Dinosaurs roamed the earth, my Uncle Edgar borrowed time on the Navy’s computers (at night, when they weren’t in use) to design the initial computer system for Cape Canaveral (as it was named before St. Kennedy The Satyr got everything under the sun reamed after him). I expect that he had at his disposal about one tenth the computing power of your repurposed dingus. Probably actually less.

    We live in Science Fiction.

  2. Malatrope says:

    Most excellent, sir, congratulations on your success! I myself have an old Compaq Contura 486 laying around that I’m going to try to brick with some variant of Linux (I read a rumor somewhere that some poor soul had managed to get it running on one, despite it’s lack of a mouse, a USB port, or anything vaguely resembling even a VGA display.

    But that’s a project for another time.

  3. Malatrope says:

    UPDATE: Actually, that’s a “Compaq Contura Aero 4/25” (why does everything have to be named as though it were an airplane?) and here is the rumor:

    http://james.hamsterrepublic.com/linux/contura-aero.php

  4. richardcraver says:

    AC, Mint is my distro of choice, I’ve been using it since Ubuntu went with the abominable (IMHO YMMV) Unity desktop. I flip between Cinnamon on a 6 year old P4 desktop and MATE on an equally old CoreDuo laptop, both exceedingly stable. I had Peppermint on a 2000 era Toshiba P4 laptop for awhile.
    Malatrope, good luck with the Contura. That’s a pretty tall order for a modern linux distro of any kind. My first linux box running Red Hat around 1999 was a 233 mhz Pentium with 16MB of RAM, screen refreshes were like watching paint dry, 48MB made it almost tolerable.

    • Mark Matis says:

      I’m sure it’s great on hardware that it supports. I have tried to load it twice on desktops, and neither machine would run it – locked up during the boot process. Ubuntu 64-bit, however, seems to run fine on both machines. If you don’t like the Unity desktop, have you tried Trinity:
      TrinityDesktop.org
      ???
      Load Ubuntu, then install Trinity over it.

      My laptop running Ubuntu 64-bit – the Compaq M2000Z – is eleven years old, and was a budget product when I got it back then.

  5. S says:

    Well done!

    May we please have an update on the status of the Lopsided Cat and the Bowling Pin Chicken?

    Thanks.

  6. MadRocketSci says:

    I did that to my netbook a few years back (Linux Mint 12, was it?), after realizing it would unusable with the default OS.

    • Yep. Seems like the OS is very good at killing adequate but not newish hardware. I find it frustrating that a 1950’s car and a 2016 car run on the same gasoline and a very old computer will boot to its very old OS but newer devices seem to implode after a few years.

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