New Life for an Old Laptop – an Update

I detailed in the original article how my Thinkpad T20 was given a new lease on life. With a small investment in hardware upgrades, memory and hard drive, plus a new operating system, Ubuntu 7.04, it was proving useful again. As so often happens with these projects they are never over. So here are some details of the current state of progress.

Time for an Upgrade.

Ubuntu has served me well on this machine and although Gnome is not my favourite desktop manager it was working ok. I was aware that it was an older version and would soon be two releases behind so it was time for an upgrade. The question was what with.

I had a copy of a version of Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the lightweight Xfce desktop) and being aware that it used less memory than Gnome thought it might be a good idea. It lasted a couple of days. Not that there was anything wrong with it. Everything appeared to work, wifi worked “out of the box” as I have come to expect from Ubuntu. It had a few strange things , eg. the splash screen wouldn’t resize to my screen so it was off centre. It didn’t affect operation as it was only there while it booted and then it was fine. But it didn’t “grab” me. Not very scientific I know but didn’t feel it was better than what I had previously.

So I decided to go in the opposite direction and install Fedora 8 with KDE. This is what I use on my desktop with all the bells and whistles, Compiz-Fusion etc. I knew that wouldn’t work on the old laptop but I wondered how a basic KDE installation would run. I have used KDE most of the time I have used Linux and it is still my preferred environment. I look forward to KDE 4 in Fedora 9 but that’s a story for another day.

Installation

I installed from a dvd copy I had on hand and all appeared to go well. I had the system running with the correct video set up without any of the tweaking needed in Ubuntu. One serious issue, no wifi. I connected up an ethernet cable and had the internet working that way and left it to do an update. In the meantime I did some research on the Fedora forums. As usual the answers were all there just need a little patience to sort through all the information.

With the update done I installed the madwifi driver from the Livna site following the information here. My Netgear WPN511 (Atheros chipset) was now recognised but couldn’t link to the router using wpa2. I turned on the NetworkManager and NetworkManagerDispatch services in System – Services and now after setting up the passphrase etc. it all worked.

The Result

I now have a usable Fedora 8 system on hardware I doubted would handle it. It is slower than the desktop of course but no slower than the Ubuntu system it replaced. It is used primarily as an internet terminal with occasional office document editing or photograph viewing. I wouldn’t like to do much photo editing on it but for everything else it works great.

There are still one issue to look into. The hard drive has a partition I use for archives. It has an ext3 Linux filesystem and Fedora recognises it but any attempt to mount it produces an error. I’ll look into it further when I get some more time.

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7 thoughts on “New Life for an Old Laptop – an Update

  1. Nice post.
    I have similar experience with my old laptop (Toshiba Tecra 8200 PIII RAM 256MB and wifi using 3Com usb adapter).
    Previously I used Ubuntu (Feisty, Gutsy) and everything just works (suspend, hybernate, wifi, but no 3D).
    Currently I switch to Mepis 7.0 as I want to taste Debian, and again everything just works, even now I feel the laptop become faster and lighter 🙂

  2. Pingback: Tightwad Technica » From the Depths

  3. Thanks Heri, I used an earlier Mepis, nice distro. Got me back into using Linux all the time.

    Quasar, I tried Xubuntu with xfce and didn’t like it but xfce is in the Fedora repos so I might give it a go here. I have done some fine tuning to improve memory use too. Will update soon.

  4. hello,

    linux is adapted to give new life for old PC.
    my experience :
    – IBM Thinkpad 380XD with 32 Mo RAM with puppy linux and wifi !
    – IBM thinkpad 390 with 128 Mo RAM with evinux and wifi !
    – desktop IBM GL 350 with 128 Mo RAM with antix and wifi !

    petitbob

  5. Pingback: Blog To Obtain Out Further About thinkpad 390 | IBM Thinkpad Blog Store

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