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don't throw away that old laptop!
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nbittech
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Joined: 05 Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Western North Carolina

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:30 am    Post subject: don't throw away that old laptop! Reply with quote

It Has become a rather popular hobby where I live for people (myself included) to procure old laptops and tinker with them in interesting ways.

I was recently given an old Compaq 700z that would have normally been thrown away.
Here are the specs.

(Circa 2001, it cost $1800 in 2001, wow!)
AMD Duron (socket a) 600mhz
384mb RAM (pc133)
20gb hdd 4200rpm
VIA Savage S3 video

Way back when I ran Fluxbox, or kde3. Back in 2001.

Anyway, the idea is to create a laptop that feels like 2001 when you look at it, but feels like 2012 when you use it.
This means;
modern web browser
modern kernel
modern file management
html5 (hopefully)
flash player
wifi

but with that comfortable, "this was just like I used to use back then" feeling


You get the idea.

So dig out that laptop that's buried in your closet that hasn't been powered on in years, you know you can't throw it away just yet.

My questions are:
What will compile with only 256-512mb of RAM (I know Firefox won't?)
What desktops or wm's are good (Fluxbox, Windowmaker, ROX, old-school stuff here?)
Kernel tricks?
will using -Os help (I know it will save disk space?)
Ideas?

Everyone save a laptop! It's fun!
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Was it cat-5 or cat-6? Well I dunno, but I do know that I need a new LCD screen on my laptop now.
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eccerr0r
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Joined: 01 Jul 2004
Posts: 3822
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently donated my p3 1.13GHz laptop to Goodwill. It had 512MiB. I have two/three newer ones...

I was able to build firefox on 384M (desktop) with pain... and 1.25GiB swap... No to Openoffice, however...

Also note that a lot of these 'older' machines won't run newer (i.e. up to date with known bugfixes) Adobe flash player because they don't support the newer SSE2 instruction set. My "old" AthlonXP and P3's fall into this category... Need P4's or Pentium-M's to run flash :(

Maybe could get away with running the binary Chrome...
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Intel Core i7 2700K@ 4.1GHz/HD3000 graphics/8GB DDR3/180GB SSD
What am I supposed to be advocating?
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Gusar
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Joined: 09 Apr 2005
Posts: 2641
Location: Slovenia

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For machines without SSE2, Adobe still maintains flash 10.3. So flash itself is not a problem, it's decoding h264 video, especially because flash uses software presentation. So downloading the video and playing it in a dedicated player (which will use hardware presentation, if the driver for the graphic card is good enough) might be necessary.

Beyond that, what's a problem is today's uberbloated websites. For example, trying to open this: https://plus.google.com/115547683951727699051/posts brings my netbook (1GB of ram) to it's knees. So browsing with JavaScript deactivated might be necessary on such old machines.

Firefox will run better than Chrome, because Chrome's multi-process design requires more ram. A webkit-gtk based browser (like Midori) is probably the most suitable.

Other than the above, something like LXDE will run just fine.
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The Doctor
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Joined: 27 Jul 2010
Posts: 1371

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want perspective I had X running with icewm on a laptop from the mid 90's. That thing only had about 60 mb of ram. I used seamonkey for a web browser, and I was painfully slow, but it ran.

I would recommend setting up a cross compiler or similar, because compile times will be ridiculous. With the laptop, I think it was compiling for something like 2 days just to get X working.
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