09 August 2007

So I like walking uphill

Trying out my second Ubuntu installation, & I choose Mum-in-law’s “new” machine to do it on.

Opening the case on this antique Acer Aspire revealed an immediate problem: no hard disk. Careful inspection showed another issue: no RAM. This is in addition to no keyboard, no mouse, & no power cables.

It did have a CD drive (but the data cable was unplugged) & a CD burner, & a moderately nice screen (ATI MicroScan), so I trotted down to PLE, & started buying parts. Keyboard? PS/2 for $8.00. Mouse? PS/2 for $12.50. Hard disk? 160GB Western Digital for $69.00. Power cables? $5.00 apiece. Bolts? A handful from their repair techs. So far, so good.

RAM? SD-RAM, it turns out. Oops. Happily, the wise men at Navada had a 256MB stick they were willing to part with for only $60. Navada Greenwood need an award for simply having useful chunks of hardware lying about. (-:

Hokay... burn the CD, plug it in... boots up, looks good, splat.

So much for the CD drive. Hit the eject button on the burner. Klunk. No action. Sigh. Prodding the emergency eject hole with a needle & fiddling around a bit results in an eject, so I was eventually able to get the installer running from a half-disassembled burner.

This was Ubuntu 7.0.4 & a recent download of it (thanks Senectus), but I was very glad to be tacked on with ADSL (hello from Candlewood today), even a klunky old Telstra 256/64 dynamic connection. Updates have taken a while, & they’re not complete. However, the install is complete, along with a passel of other bits & pieces like Java & Flash. Once more, the indexes came down faster, & I even managed to get apt to use rsync, which helped a bit with efficiency & smoothness.

Now, this is still a Celeron 566 with just 256MB of RAM (would have taken 512 if it’d taken standard DDR), but other than that it’s doing quite well.

Oh, except for a couple of Acerisms.

I went to plug the keyboard in, only to discover: no PS/2 sockets at all!

Bleah! The sockets sit on the motherboard but aren’t visible from outside, so I sat down & peeled off bits of plastic & metal to make them accessible.

The keyboard works fine, but I’ll be swapping the mouse for a USB one tomorrow. I think I could probably find a BIOS setting to turn it on, but the BIOS has completely failed to respond to Del, F1 or any other function or control keys I’ve tried.


senectus said...

any time mate :-)
Glad to hear it's already of use.

Leon Brooks said...

Yah, it impressed mine hosts to have those appear in the mailbox.

One of the African (Zambian) students here got asked if these were his. (-: