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Old 09-08-2010, 02:27   #1
npatel
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Given a free old laptop -- what should I do with it?

My uncle came over today, and handed me an old laptop that he isn't doing anything with anymore. I am trying to see if I can do anything with it as far as a tinkering project goes, since I'm pretty good on computers and backup old computers right now.

It's a Dell Inspiron 5000, and here are the specs I've found out about it so far:

Celeron 600/500 mhz
160 mb RAM
6.01 GB IDE hard drive (I have a couple SATA drives laying around, but nothing IDE)
WinXP Pro
15" screen
24x CD-ROM, Floppy Drive, 1 USB, Parallel and Serial ports, S-video and VGA-out, double height PC card.

It has neither an Ethernet port nor a wireless network card, so I can't use it for just an email machine, and the hard drive is too small to use as any kind of server. It's 11 years old at this point, so I don't want to put more than a few dollars into it.

Any ideas from the GT braintrust on novel uses for a laptop like this? I was thinking on making a photo frame out of it if I can't think of anything else. If I do go that route, and ideas on a compact software package that can do this?

I've been browsing Google results, but a lot of what I initially found shows more advanced functions that I want -- downloading pics off the web, etc.

And no, target practice isn't really an option, since it still works.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:00   #2
IndyGunFreak
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Well, I can't really think of anything useful to do w/ it if it can't get on the internet, as an email machine is about all it's good for.

If it were me, I'd nuke XP(man how slow that must be) and put crunchbang linux on it. Really though, w/o internet, there isn't much you can do with that machine.

I'm not sure if this works w/ Linux, but if it does, then I'd do what I suggested above. You can buy it, and try it w/ the Live CD, and see what happens.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...4224&CatId=589
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Originally Posted by GioaJack View Post
The fire is no longer my major concern since I am leaving immediately on an unexpected road trip to Indianapolis. Watch the national news over the next couple of days, I'll wave... well, only if I'm cuffed in the front.
RIP Jack

Last edited by IndyGunFreak; 09-08-2010 at 03:02..
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:05   #3
npatel
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Yea, I was thinking of trying one of the smaller linux distros on it -- I know that there are some that go as small as 50MB installed.

As I look more and more into the photo frame route, it looks interesting, but thats going to be some serious disassembly and reassembly in a custom case.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:11   #4
IndyGunFreak
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You know, the photo frame isn't to bad an idea... and if you can figure out a way to hide the keyboard(ie, clever mounting)... You could download a small Linux distro(Puppy and/or Damn Small Linux, would be perfect for this), and set the screen saver to use your Picture folder. The other option of course, is just leave XP on the machine for this, since it has a similar feature. I'm assuming you've got at least a few hundred megabytes of free space to put a few pics on there. The speed of the machine doesn't matter just for running the screensaver feature.

Screensaver comes on, and there's your picture frame. .

Biggest problem here, is figuring out how to mount it and hide the keyboard, while still making it semi-accessible so if you want to change the pic, etc. Trying to disassemble it and make some sort of custom case... whew, I'd rather just use it has a target.

I think with a little creativity, that could work.

IGF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GioaJack View Post
The fire is no longer my major concern since I am leaving immediately on an unexpected road trip to Indianapolis. Watch the national news over the next couple of days, I'll wave... well, only if I'm cuffed in the front.
RIP Jack

Last edited by IndyGunFreak; 09-08-2010 at 03:50..
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:40   #5
npatel
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Looks like the photo frame option is out -- I was cleaning the dust off of the screen, and it seems to be in pretty bad shape.

I'm trying to put the newest ubuntu on it right now, but it doesn't seem to want to boot from the CD past the initial splash screen. I think the video card on this machine may not be supported, but I am trying other options soon.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:10   #6
IndyGunFreak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by npatel View Post
Looks like the photo frame option is out -- I was cleaning the dust off of the screen, and it seems to be in pretty bad shape.

I'm trying to put the newest ubuntu on it right now, but it doesn't seem to want to boot from the CD past the initial splash screen. I think the video card on this machine may not be supported, but I am trying other options soon.
Yeah, the newest Ubuntu on a machine that old, will be pushing it. There's not enough RAM to run the live CD, if thats what you're trying to do. You could try the Alternate Install CD, but again, it's gonna be SLOW with that little RAM.

I'd look at something w/ Openbox or Fluxbox as the GUI on a machine that old.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GioaJack View Post
The fire is no longer my major concern since I am leaving immediately on an unexpected road trip to Indianapolis. Watch the national news over the next couple of days, I'll wave... well, only if I'm cuffed in the front.
RIP Jack

Last edited by IndyGunFreak; 09-08-2010 at 06:18..
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:49   #7
npatel
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Puppy Linux 5.11 is running great on it so far. Now i just need to find a PCMCIA wireless card for cheap, and this machine will be good to go.

It's always a good feeling to run linux on an old machine and see how fast it can be.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:52   #8
IndyGunFreak
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Quote:
Originally Posted by npatel View Post
Puppy Linux 5.11 is running great on it so far. Now i just need to find a PCMCIA wireless card for cheap, and this machine will be good to go.

It's always a good feeling to run linux on an old machine and see how fast it can be.
Remember though, w/ Puppy.. the reason it's so light is because some things are sacrificed, like hardware recognition. Just make sure any wireless device you buy, you research well.

IGF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GioaJack View Post
The fire is no longer my major concern since I am leaving immediately on an unexpected road trip to Indianapolis. Watch the national news over the next couple of days, I'll wave... well, only if I'm cuffed in the front.
RIP Jack
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:37   #9
mr peas
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Let's shoot it.. together.

*sorry just read no target practice :(

Since it has a VGA out, you can use it as a desktop machine and perhaps an internet machine for your LCD screen in the living room. No wireless built-in? Buy a Wireless-N USB adapter for it. This way you can actually use it on other computers. So basically a VGA cord to HDMI or to built-in VGA is about $5 and a wireless usb card is about $15. So for $20 give or take you'll have a cpu you can hook up to your television. however! you'll also need a wireless keyboard and mouse which will cost you about $30. I have something similar in my living room but its a desktop and it runs on Ubuntu and not windows. But it works great for surfing the net.

Otherwise, you can donate it to someone who could really use it. There's people who can't afford a pc so if you give them this with something like Open Office (which is free), they would be more than grateful.

Either way, you'll be making yourself happy.

Oh and the 3rd option is target practice, but option B would be much more productive.

Good luck!

Last edited by mr peas; 09-08-2010 at 10:43..
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