22 October 2003

Laptop

I started running out of space on my laptop, so decided it would be easier to buy a new hard disk rather than clean things up (after all, I could get a 40GB drive for about AU$200, which would give me more than 3 times as much storage, and had almost identical power requirements). If only things were that easy …

After backing everything up, the first problem was taking the old hard disk out of the machine. The m300 is quite a nice machine, as you only need to undo one screw to remove the hard drive mounting. Getting the hard drive out of the mounting was a bit more of a problem as there were two torx screws holding the drive in. Moreover, I didn’t have access to a small enough torx driver :(. Luckily the screw heads were raised enough that it was possible to undo them using some pliers without damaging anything.

After getting the new drive into the mounting frame and into the machine, I needed to get Windows 98 onto the drive. This was required to get the hibernation working under Linux (the BIOS saves the contents of memory to a special file on the Windows partition). It turned out that the CD that came with the laptop was a quick restore disk, and wanted to create a full 40GB partition, rather than use the use the smaller partition I had already created. It them proceeded to screw up the restore, leaving me with a system that (a) wouldn’t boot fully, and (b) was convinced that there were errors on the hard disk, but just couldn’t find them. I guess that the restore CD managed to mis-format the drive somehow. In the end, I had to borrow a 98 CD and do a clean install, which worked perfectly (and let me install to a smaller partition). I can see how a quick restore CD could be useful in many common cases, but this one was nowhere near as robust as I would have liked.

Compared to this, getting Linux up and running was trivial. After completing the restore, I did a few tests with hdparm -Tt which showed that the new disk had a read performance of 25MB/s (in comparison, the old disk did 13MB/s), which has resulted in noticably shorter compile times on the laptop. It is also a lot quieter when busy.

This should put off the need to get a new laptop for quite a while.

Gnome 2.5

Updated my system to CVS head, and things are looking good. The new Nautilus feels even faster (especially in spatial mode). Apparently metadata plugins are planned for 2.6, which should be interesting. It should allow people to implement things like TortoiseCVS, augmenting the existing views rather than creating a completely new view like Apotheke does.