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Why I use old hardware (drewdevault.com)
8 points by test_acck to dev programming hardware 437 days ago | 2 comments


5 points by shawn 437 days ago

Laarc was written on an old 2015 MBP whose internal keyboard broke long ago. (I carry one everywhere, which looks about as cool as it sounds.) It overheats, and it probably delivers somewhere around ~50% of its capabilities.

Doubt I'll be upgrading anytime soon though. Too fond of my peg-legged laptop, and it serves me well. Computers are ridiculously fast now, and it's hard to internalize.

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Long time ago, Dell introduced an Ubuntu-based laptop (1420 I think) with Core Duo 2 and 4GB RAM. Vote with your wallet to send market signals, right? Well, I got it used off eBay from someone who didn't like Ubuntu. Sorta counts. Served me well for about 8 years or so. The web apps did start getting it noticeably slower over time. Native apps were fine, though. Even VM's.

Once it broke with constant, filesystem corruption ("probably HD-related"), I dropped to backup I bartered from a guy that's a Compaq Presario with a Celeron or something. That was a piece of crap I could barely stand in many ways. Got really interesting when its down button came off but only worked upside down (no clue why). You bet skimming 100+ papers plus online forums was fun with that. I replaced HD in Dell with it acting even weirder after, like random 10min boots that weren't checks running. Ran OK once it loaded or randomly hit 100% for prolonged periods. Kept it for CPU-intensive stuff when it's not doing its own mysterious, CPU-intensive stuff, which I can probably mitigate, so I can just burn out that laptop instead of whatever I use day-to-day.

Probably time to upgrade I thought. Especially with CPU fixes like Meltdown/Spectre adding constant slowdowns. The CPU errata would eventually get to black hats. All older computers were at risk to that. Needed an older one that would get updates, have little slowdown, and be cost-effective. Core i7 I guessed (no proof). Plus, prefer it run as many FOSS OS's as possible in case I want or need to try them. Turns out there's one type of laptop used to develop almost all OS's out there which gets more support for almost all OS's out there: the Thinkpad (eh, specific models). Always thought about them, but had never tried one. Lots of Lobsters swore by them, esp their keyboards. Although that's subjective, I thought it was cool that someone said some or all had a drain to try to prevent spill damage. That could also be due to insider knowledge by IBM/Lenovo of corporate buyers overworking IT workers who were over-caffeinated (all companies) and/or drunk (startups with bars). I decided against a survey for now.

Note re Thinkpad tips: I especially thank vermaden for lots of advice with Justin Sherrill offering his help on my search, too. Both BSD OS promoters.

Turns out, the huge use in business means they're constantly refurbished and recycled. Got a T420 off eBay with Core i7, 8GB RAM, and 250GB SSD for about $240. Jumping from a Core Duo 2 (maybe it was a 1...) to a Core i7 felt amazing. I'm rolling now. This middle or upper class experience from years ago feels amazing! It's great roleplaying!

Anyway, point being that there's some badass laptops floating around for price-per-performance you can't get new which still reduce waste. Plus, you can still keep your old one as a backup, part of a load-sharing cluster, or even use it in a different way for the nostalgia. :)

My Presario went back in furthest space of a closet somewhere. I'll dust off the closer Dell when I start running testing and verification tools again since they're mostly CPU. Small RAM might itself be useful for cost-efficiency assessments. Plus, the RISC-V chips will probably be closer to old Intel's than new chips in performance. Might be dual-use possibilities involved for portable, efficient software.

Meanwhile, loving my upgrade. Others still got plenty of love and ROI. Except the Presario: just ROI there. ;)

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