Laptop Tails

I was sitting cross legged on the floor of the lounge room, typing a blog post, when a four month old border collie puppy came running around the chair I was using as a back rest, and leapt over my legs. The PowerBook screen took the full impact of a 12kg (26lb) puppy at speed. A resounding crack, the PowerBook slide along the floor and the puppy continued on her way.

The puppy and the LCD survived without any damage, the same could not be said for the hinges. They are not designed for angles exceeding 180 degrees. At first I thought is was the hinge I repair every few months and is an absolute mess. Unfortunately it was the other hinge, which had never given me trouble.

I used copious quantities of super glue specially designed to glue metal, unsucessfully twice. Before resorting to the tried and tested expoy resin glue to reattach the hinge. Then the fun started, the first couple of times I started the powerbook up it a long time to start up waiting for disk. Using the disk utility did not help and then it refused to boot at all. After trying to decode the obtuse error messages, I replaced the hard drive and reinstalled OsX. Even that was a little adventure, as my optical drive decided to play up. I have the PowerBook running but with little over a week to go to WD06, I did not want to drag a laptop that was really showing it’s age and abuse halfway round the country.

Fortunately a couple of weeks earlier, at work we located a Dell Lattitude C840 laptop that had been declared uneconomic to repair due to a dead network port. With a PCIMA network card and a Ubuntu disk I am now using the “work” laptop. The Dell is a little younger than the PowerBook, less used and definitely less abused, other features are a 1600×1200 screen (now I really see the advantages of my fluid elastic design) and close to 5 hours battery life (given the choice between using a floppy drive or a second battery, I chose the extra battery). The downsides are the weight, about twice that of my old PowerBook and enough to send my legs to sleep if it is on my lap for more than 30 minutes (the bus trip to work) and only 256Mb RAM.

The Ubuntu install went smoothly, it recognised all the hardware including the network and wireless cards without any problems. The only tweaking was getting the sleep and hibernate settings right. At the moment putting the laptop to sleep causes problems with the display, so I just changed the settings so the computer hibernates instead of sleeps.

Additional software was installed fairly smoothly, Apache, PHP, MySQL, postgresSQL and a few other via Synaptic package manager. The entertainment applications were installed via Automatix, while I will swear by Rhytymbox as an audio player, VLC for video and some other applications including (Bluefish and Opera) installed by Automatix, it is still a beta app, with a few rough edges and some odd behaviours. It did not install a couple of apps I asked for and since Automatix installed some plugins, Firefox has become unstable. Still Automatix is a very useful tool, that saved me alot of time and headaches. And I have Konqueror and Opera to use as web browsers.

Overall I am happy with Ubuntu, the laptop will be travelling with me to Sydney and will do the job for me until the new Macbooks with the new dual core technology arrive (hopefully mid October but that is wishful thinking). Even then I expect it to run Tiger, XP and Ubuntu for me.

2 Responses to “Laptop Tails”

  1. John Faulds Says:

    Owning a border collie myself, I found the mental image of your flying puppy very funny (sorry about the laptop though :( ).

  2. Tuna Says:

    Hence why nick is now powerbookless @ WD06 with no free wifi for Ubuntu.. arhhh it all comes together.