Oldie but Goodie

In a time where most people are using their smartphones to surf the Net – and the average smartphone gets replaced every couple of years – it seems almost laughable to use an 11 year old desktop PC for anything. Yet that is just what I do, thanks to Linux.

Most old desktops of this age are running Linux, if they are not stored away or in a landfill by now. Probably they started out running Windows XP or Vista.

This particular desktop came out about the same time as Vista. Its motherboard was designed for Vista. But it has never run any type of Windows operating system.

Back in January 2008, I was a relative newbie to Linux and I was trying it out on an old Dell desktop from 2000 that Sarah had used in University. That particular machine was starting to give issues, and I wanted to get something newer – but for Linux only.

I wasn’t that confident that I could build my own machine – that came later. So I turned to a local clone maker in Ottawa. They were a bit surprised that I diidn’t want Windows, but they built it and tested it to at least boot up to the setup screen. I then went ahead and installed Ubuntu Linux myself.

To be honest, my new machine wasn’t a leading edge unit – even when new. Although its processor’s design was more than a year old, it was one of AMD’s best – easily a match for Intel at the time. The motherboard was one of the first to feature technology from AMD’s merger with graphics card maker ATI.

I was happy with the result, and I have to admit that this desktop machine made me into a bit of an AMD fanboi. Intel and Nvidia are the way to go with Linux according to “conventional wisdom.” But I have always managed to make do with AMD.

The Everbest clone chugged along very well and it was getting a bit long in the tooth in 2013. That is when I built another Linux machine as my main driver, and moved the old one into the workroom to play MP3 music.

I never have upgraded the old machine, other than to add a bit more memory. It still has its original processor, motherboard, hard drive and optical drive. I have been forced to put in a video card because its graphics are now so antiquated that I can’t hook up a monitor with HDMI.

When I got a new video card for my Windows PC I moved the old but still useful video card to the jukebox PC in the junkroom. At the time, I took the opportunity to reinstall Linux and put on a lighter weight operating system designed for very old hardware.

When I install Linux these days I just plug in a USB “thumbdrive“, boot the machine off that and then install. But this PC is so old it wouldn’t do that. I had to burn a DVD of the new operating system, boot with the creaky old optical drive and install that way.

Well, it worked. The new O/S runs very well. I even installed Spotify so I can stream music instead of playing MP3s. Spotify hadn’t even been launched when this PC was new, but it’s still good enough to run a music stream.

I must admit I get a bit nostalgic and sentimental about old computer hardware. I keep it as long as it works and will keep up with present-day technology. This particular PC is hopelessly obsolete – even compared to something 5 years newer – but it does what I want it to do. When it comes to streaming music, it still rocks on.

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