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. []
Categorized as Geek, Life

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.


  1. fix your white bal­ance for cryin’ out loud! how’re you sup­posed to sell that stuff when it looks like smok­er’s teeth?

  2. ps. you might have real­ized that W2k runs like crap on less than 512MB of RAM, though not as bad as XP which seems to con­sume almost 256MB on most elec­tron­ics super­store­bought machines. a fun thing to do is run W98 on some super old hardware :)

  3. Well, I think the prob­lem is a lot worse than my yel­low-toned pho­tog­ra­phy (my oth­er stuff on eBay was­n’t that bad) or the lack of RAM. I tried to re-install Win­dows 2k and the after about 9 hours and the dri­ve being less than 10% for­mat­ted, I gave up.

    Now, when pow­ered on, the hard dri­ve sounds like a buzz saw. The BIOS won’t even rec­og­nize that there is a hard dri­ve, so I can’t get any­thing to work. I’ll have to either sell it with­out a work­ing hard dri­ve or find a replace­ment online… stu­pid laptop.

  4. haha­ha, yeah, could be your DBAN­ing sucked up the usable disk life :) you can find those dri­ves rel­a­tive­ly afford­ably now, I think — stan­dard 2.5″ dri­ve, isn’t it? probal­by only a 4200rpm dri­ve. it’ll per­form bet­ter with a 5400rpm dri­ve if you can find one with­out wreck­ing your­self. new­er note­books are start­ing to come with 7200’s — desk­top speed.

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