End of Year Gadget Cleaning

Well, part of all that I’m trying to do this weekend between our stinky fridge and New Year’s celebrations is put up a bunch of old junk on eBay so that I may get some new computer money1. Well, it turns out we have quite a bit of stuff to sell. No, none of it is real high-end stuff but it’s hopefully stuff that someone out there wants.

One such item is Angela’s old laptop, a Dell Latitude C600. It was a solid business-type machine with Windows 2000 on it and it lasted her for about four years. Of course, it shows it’s age trying to do most anything now and it’s had some hard drive problems in the past. Just for fun, I put in the Ubuntu 6.06 Live CD2 last night to see how it would operate. It was like a whole new machine (after the 20 minute boot time)! Menus popped up like they were supposed to. The graphics looked great. Programs opened without the need to leave the room for food while waiting.

Laptop Running Ubuntu Live CD

My eBay photo of the laptop running Ubuntu 6.06.

Of course, here’s the downside to selling an old PC: cleaning and prepping the system. I swear I think it takes less work to sell a car or a house. I bought Steve Gibson’s SpinRite 6 (something I’d been meaning to purchase for a long time anyway) to make sure the hard drive is up to the task of, well, acting as a hard drive. So far no problems, but I don’t want anyone to buy it and feel suckered. Also, I feel really strongly about using drive-wipe software and providing a clean install of Windows (or whatever). I use Darik’s Boot & Nuke (DBAN) because it is both free and extremely thorough (I think you have can set it to re-write up to seven times, though three is usually considered enough). Anyway, by the time you’ve run SpinRite, DBAN, and re-installed Windows 2000 with updates on a relatively slow machine, there goes your weekend! Fortunately, most of this software is self-sufficient and requires little on my part (except needy old Windows 2000).

So, if anyone out there is interested in getting a older model Dell laptop, particularly to run as a Linux lappy, let me know. It’ll be at least a couple of days before I can get this up on eBay and I would be just as happy to sell it to a friend as a stranger. I can provide the specs if anyone is interested, since I’ve got to get all that stuff together soon anyway. However, I will mention that it has a Linksys 802.11g PC card installed that is going with it (I don’t really want to sell it separately, since who would ever buy a laptop with wireless now?). Already on the block at eBay:

And, in addition to the laptop, some items I’ve not yet put up on eBay that will go up as soon as they are "cleaned and cleared:"

  • My old Linux Box desktop with Antec Lanboy I case (now) running Ubuntu
  • This lovely Dell Dimension 4600 WMCE that I am typing on right now (after I get a new machine only)
  • My 15GB 3G Apple iPod (seen here, minus the car dock) – Sold!
  • An HP Inkjet 1220c medium format (up to 13″x19″) printer
  • A Netgear Centrex port network print server (works great with the 1220c)
  • My Belkin KVM+S switch (seen here) with two pairs of cables – Sold!
  • And anything else I can find up in the attic that needs to go…

Update (Sunday): Well, DBAN failed, so I had to run SpinRite twice, once in brief mode and once in a more thorough mode. The second time it spent about six hours on a single drive sector which it finally gave up on as "unrecoverable." I hope that means the drive knows not to use that sector in the future at least. Anyway, it took just shy of 20 hours to run SpinRite and I’m not going to let DBAN run again before trying to install Windows. Aarg!

  1. No, a new computer probably isn’t my highest priority right now, but it was the deal that Angela and I came up with: clean up the attic, sell some stuff, and use my year-end bonus to buy a computer which will last for the next five years. Win-win all around (space, money, no more computer worries to distract from more important things in life…). []
  2. By the way, if you haven’t tried out Ubuntu, then you should. It’s actually worth all the hype it gets. If you’ve never even tried Linux, then make a Live CD and pop it in your Intel or AMD machine. You’ll be surprised at just how fast you feel right at home. []