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Oldest Viable Laptop (2017) (greer.fm)
202 points by febeling 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 287 comments



2011 Lenovo Thinkpad X220 daily user here. Really nice machine really for my needs, running the latest Debian smoothly.

I do have a spare ready to take over if needed. Old hardware could always die very suddenly. It's a frugal solution, both cheaper and more ecological than buying new.


T420 here for the nostalgia. Apart from the ssd and ram upgrades, the FHD IPS upgrade made it an excellent cheaper alternative to the thinkpad 25th anniversary edition. My only problem with it is the battery, I bought a new one but it only lasts for about 2-3 hours.

If anyone here is planning to do the FHD upgrade, be very careful with power, you need to remove the battery/power cable and press the power button a couple of times to discharge all capacitors etc, otherwise you will blow a microscopic fuse (I did!) and it's near impossible to replace it. I just soldered a bridge between the contacts! I just can't do anything wrong again or I'll fry something.


T420 daily here too. I love it's keyboard. Not sure what I'm going to do in the future when I'm forced to upgrade. I hear you can install a classic keyboard on newer gen Lenovo laptops, but I'd really prefer a solution that didn't require mods.


Huh, odd. Even my old, quite run-down battery (9-cell) gets me 5-6 hours. Back when it was brand new, it got me anywhere between 7-10 hours. This is on Linux. Maybe it's the display, since I still only have the old 1600x panel.


> Maybe it's the display, since I still only have the old 1600x panel.

It is most likely due to poor quality batteries. The "cells" in a 9-cell battery are 18650 batteries, which vary in capacity from 3400mAh at the high end, to counterfeit ones that are labelled to have 1200mAh capacity, but in reality have only a fraction of that. Lithium-ion batteries also have a limited shelf life, so even good quality aftermarket batteries will have a fraction of the rated capacity if they have been sitting in a warehouse for years.


I managed to do this on a 2016 HP laptop, replacing the screen assembly. The laptop base worked great, plugged into a TV via HDMI, but a few days later, after the replacement top half had arrived, plugging it in and there was a pop sound... and a dead laptop.

Battery had been disconnected, also the CMOS battery. I usually remember to hold down the power button for a few seconds. Dang.

Didn't chase this further, as I am clumsy with board-level repairs, and my friend didn't want to throw more money at the project.


Bridging the solder points of the blown micro fuse is a very easy job even if you're clumsy with such jobs (trust me, I'm pretty much a klutz). It'll be a shame if you just leave the otherwise working laptop dead.


I replaced the terrible 1366x768 panel in my ThinkPad E530 with a FHD panel from a W530. Easy swap and it all "just worked". So even in the Lenovo era they're very easy machines to work on.

Edit to add: Obviously this is an i5 laptop from 2012, much newer than some of the other machines in this thread. Although it's not my daily driver anymore I do still use it for music production.


T500 owner here with (what at the time was quite expensive) on-board plus discrete graphic cards and 1600x1050 screen. After replacing the drive with SSD and upgrading to 6GB, it's working as good as when I bought it in 2009, even with Win10Pro on it.

I wish the multiple replacement batteries I got for it over the years were as performant ;o)


Same here. I use T480 and T420 in parallel and in comparison to the newer model the T420 feels virtually bombproof.


Yep and great battery life and the battery is swappable. So I carry a spare 9 cell which, using ubuntu/i3wm, gives me close to 30 hours.

About dying suddenly; that goes, in my experience, far more for new hardware. Old hardware (especially if we are talking ‘ancient’ hardware like before 1995) has a lot more signs of giving up and a lot easier ways of fixing it when it does. I have machines that dies that first started smoking so you could pinpoint what component gave out. The x220 is not quite that old but because I have a stack of spares but one favorite, I have been able to fix it after it suddenly died quite easily without just replacing the entire thing. That will not happen when your 2018 mbp suddenly dies.


T420s, same generation; I have 3 of them now, SSD + 16GB RAM + secondary large HDD: find it hard to get that combo/performance in a modern laptop, let alone the keyboard quality:)


It's not particularly hard. Just get a T480. Mine has 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD with a 1440p screen.

(I was sure I'd have complaints about the keyboard until I spent a solid month on one and then I raised that the old style keyboard just hurts my hands. It's a little less proof against spills, though the computer underneath is still fine about them.)


Sorry - when I said 'combo', one of the things I cannot easily replicate in modern laptops is small SSD + large HDD.

The other part is keyboard - I absolutely believe that if I used a T480 for a couple of weeks I could get used to them... as long as they were the ONLY thing I ever used. But that's not my use case. I have client laptop, and a lot of regular keyboards for my desktop and laptops. They all have the standard home row (Insert/Home/PgUp, Del/End/PgDwn). It's not that laptops have changed this pattern - it's that each manufacturer and even model changes it _differently_ (and seemingly needlessly), which makes it hard to have a consistent muscle memory for these keys:<


The T480 supports two drives by putting one in the 2242 NVMe slot (where the WLAN card goes if you have one; I just use my phone as a VPN+hotspot). You do need to find an NVMe m.2 2242 drive, but they're fairly easily found today. My personal T480 (I mentioned my work-provided one earlier) is outfitted as such: 1TB NVMe SSD in the 2.5" bay (Lenovo OEM adapter; if you buy the laptop with an HDD instead it comes with a SATA port there), 512GB m.2 2242 SATA SSD. You could put in a 2.5" HDD instead, though given how cheap SSDs are now I think it's probably unnecessary for most use cases.

As for keyboards--that's why I brought my machine to clients when I was a consultant, and specify the same laptop at my new job. ;)


I have a stack of X220s and parts which should last me the rest of my career, or at least until someone makes another laptop with an actual keyboard and a non crippled CPU.

Main thing that worries me is the bios, but coreboot seems to work.

It's funny the one I bought new direct from Lenovo in 2011 is still fine, but I was able to upgrade doubling the core count and getting USB3 by assembling out of I7 parts.


Same. I love it. The things I replaced in the 8 years I've had this machine: Stock HDD -> Samsung 840 SSD, Keyboard (failed within 3yr warranty, they shipped me a new one overnight), and the trackpoint cover. Oh, and the OS, from Windows 7 Pro to XUbuntu. I would love a higher density display but that's about it.

I am thinking of finally upgrading to an X280 or an X1 but I am afraid the keyboard will be too much of a downgrade.


I'm not a fan of the X280 due to some compromises in the form factor; the keyboard feels a little cramped, the screen is pretty low-res. I swapped mine for a T480 and it's been great.

If you were to use it primarily docked and with a Thunderbolt dock, though, I could see it being pretty awesome.


Also finally they soldered the memory to the board and didn't leave a free slot, see the spec: https://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/ThinkPad/ThinkPad%2...


I bought the X1 Carbon Extreme. The classic 7 row keyboard layout is great, but the latest keyboard isn't as bad as I thought. The keys are fine, and I adapted to the layout: delete/home/end are independent from the f keys and easy to reach, page up/down are better than the old previous/next page keys in the classic layout.


Same here, 2010 x220. I've been wanting to upgrade really bad, but all the equivalent still can only take 16 GB, so I'd gain some battery life and some CPU oompf which has never been an issue, but would still have the same memory limit.

Sure the x220 has a good keyboard compared to its replacements but the other thing it has is superior mechanical design: you NEVER have to prye apart plastic pieces. Want to change me more? It's one screw away. HD? One screw. Keyboard? 3 screws. Battery? Push 2 tabs, pull the battery pack.

Sure it's a bit thicker, but I don't understand when that's an issue ever, at least I can use it on trains, cars and even airplanes as long as they don't have those space-invader-reclining-seats.

Every new laptop I look at is just worse design, less upgradable (note: I only look at laptops with track points, the other ones are useless to me). What happened? Why have laptops gotten worse?


Up until last month I used a MBP from early 2011 daily. I did get (over time) 16 GB ram, an SSD, new battery, GPU replace (by Apple for free due to an issue) and a new charger. Lost month it really died though, no idea what it is (not the ssd, not the ram).


I'm still rocking a 2008 Lenovo X200. It's just fine for home use but it's pretty hot, slow (the blame is split between the slow CPU and the slow HDD) and noisy. Also at this age the battery is mostly good for power spikes and the screen is in permanent "night shift mode" (backlight is yellowish). Still chugs along.


Am using the same.

I advise installing an SSD and thinkfan or TPFC. Mine is mostly silent (except when watching video)


TPFC has been my best friend since the T41 (my all-time favorite TP). The noise is also a side effect of replacing the failing original fan with an aftermarket part a few years ago.

I didn't replace the HDD because the longer load times aren't really an issue. It's the parts that require some processing power that are a bummer. And this is also where the noisy part comes in, given that it's in high load for longer stretches. I prioritized lower temps over lower noise, this may have helped with the longevity.

I might throw in an SSD just to show the little workhorse some love.


Apple's replacement program for the 2011 MBPs with bad GPUs just swapped in another motherboard with the exact same faulty GPU. All the 15" 2011s eventually die of the same problem. The clock is ticking on mine.


You can permanently disable the GPU on the board, assuming the heat only fried the GPU, your laptop can be usable again.

See https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/166876/macbook-pro... for more info


Yup, I had an official replacement about 5 years in, then a few years after that the replacement died and I paid for another replacement (long story).

Now I'm just waiting for this newest one to kick the bucket. There are already some stability issues. Once it goes, I'm going to try fixing the thermal paste myself (https://www.ifixit.com/Story/20939/MBP_2011_GPU_Nightmare). I have all the parts and tools in my desk drawer ready to go for when it's game time.

I don't really know what I'll do if that doesn't work. I've considered getting a refurbished 2015 MBP.


I like this approach. Sudden demise of older hardware is the always saddening when it occurs. The thing is, if you went old enough to be able to afford spares with the money you saved versus buying new, it is still the better and more frugal solution.


I also am still using a Thinkpad X220 from the same era and have had zero problems with it. I did replace the HDD with an SSD at one point just from a performance aspect. I am starting to use a 3rd gen X1 Carbon but still really enjoy the X220. I still have an X61s I occasionally use as well. The X61s also has an SSD now and upgraded RAM and it will handle most tasks I throw at it. Unfortunately the battery doesn't last these days. Interesting how many Thinkpads are listed here...


i don't like to rep the x220s much because i don't want their prices to go up in ebay/craigslist/etc...

but it would be nice if we had good aftermarket hardware support, so maybe this is a fine time to rep.

my x220 is a delightful experience. awesome mechanical keyboard and (with SSD & 16gb ram) pretty snappy on all the websites i need it for.

perfect for all kinds of non-javascript coding, and handles webpack acceptably well.


The keyboard isn’t mechanical (in the same way that a Cherry MX switch would be) but they are absolutely wonderful for a laptop keyboard.


The enormous Esc key seals the deal.


Lets see...my x201 still works, my t520 still works (gorgeous screen), t420 still works, my t60 works, my t40 still works, my t23s still works, my very first, a t600[1], _might_ still work.

Solid machines indeed!

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_ThinkPad_600


I like it too, the screen is poor though


There's a project to upgrade the X220 to a 1920x1080 panel:

https://old.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/6wnmqd/x220x230_f...


Poor how? I have a nice IPS in x220 and it looks amazing!


I have an IPS in an X230 and it Ghosts really bad.


My X220 does the exact same thing. Usually pretty fine though, but definitely noticeable, multiple times a week. I keep my display timeout pretty low and have a blank screen for the lock screen (slock, i3lock, swaylock).


Same here. Don't game on it, or watch video, so it is a great machine for most of my programming needs.


This screen revision?


The stock, not the 1080p one. I actually had the pepe and 1080p but sold them after getting cold feet.


16:9 for a work machine is a bad choice, and the resolution is horrible.


> 16:9 for a work machine is a bad choice, and the resolution is horrible.

I found a way to turn 16:9 into an advantage: if you go for 70-character columns, you can get a 3-column display in a tiling WM or Emacs if your resolution is 1280 or more pixels horizontally (there are 5-pixel wide fonts out there, but none of them are very legible).


People say this, but it honestly doesn't bother me in a laptop. Longer and thinner is easier to carry in a backpack and if I'm actually working it'll be docked and with external monitors, one of which is rotated to 9:16.


Unfortunately most things are 16:9. Some MacBooks are 16:10, and Surfaces are 3:2 which is really cool, but 16:9 still dominates :(


Tell me about it. I still rock my old cracked x220. Most new alternatives (that I'm willing to pay for) would give a much worse keyboard, in exchange for an only slightly better screen.


All MacBooks apart from the old (and sadly missed) 11" are 16:10.


Too bright! Just not the old school matte thing somehow.


My X220, bought for $110 on eBay, came with a horrible TN LCD panel. Cost me around $70(?) to replace it with an IPS panel.


How is your battery life? I've got x220 as well - not my daily driver. More like a toy.


T61 daily user here -- with 8GB memory, it's smooth sailing and a thrifty little machine.


x86-32 bit though, which is getting dropped more and more lately...

I had that very machine with 1 GB RAM (though with a SSD, its SATA1 (!!)). Couldn't run GNOME 3 on it, but more lightweight stuff like XFce ran great.

It also can't do VMs well since it lacks the hardware extensions, and it can't do Docker either.

The only good about it was the rfkill, the chasis, the ThinkPoint, the detachable battery, the price, the keyboard, and Coreboot.

It has more USB ports than my current MBP which also lacks rfkill and doesn't have a detachable battery though the trackpad is the best (2015 version).


They came in both flavors depending on rev level -- mine is a 64-bit / Core2 Duo version (can't see exactly which CPU at the moment 'cause it's at home) -- it's currently running CentOS 7.6 x86_64 like a champ with no compatibility limitations in re : modern software

Total agree with regard to hardware design / ergo superiority over the MBP -- that's exactly why I made the switch


without hd videos and gaming a x61 is good enough, I wish I could plug a tiny vpu for the occasional hd live stream though


Most 8-10 year old laptops are perfectly fine if you put an SSD in them. I just upgraded a 2011 mbp from 4GB and spinning disk to 8GB and SSD. The difference is remarkable. It wasn’t usable at all (as in trivial things like logging in could take minutes) and now it’s snappy. Old laptops without such upgrades aren’t really viable these days unless you work all day in a terminal.


> ...Old laptops without [RAM+SSD] upgrades aren’t really viable these days unless you work all day in a terminal.

Huh, I don't think this is correct. A lightweight Linux distribution such as Debian can make very good use of even a spinning-rust HDD, as long as it has enough available RAM that it's not hitting disk all the time. As I've mentioned in a different comment, even 512MB RAM can be more than enough _if_ you have no need for a web browser.


Yeah hence my caveat “unless you work in a terminal all day”.

Could be rephrased as “I’m assuming you are using a fat IDE or equivalent such as any big commercial content creation software”.

But let’s call at least a modern browser par for the course for professionals.

For using 10 year old apps, or apps that haven’t been made a lot heavier in the past 10 years, obviously you won’t need more than a 10 year old computer.


I have some Dell D430 ultralights that max out at 2GB. Usually once a day the OOM Killer slaughters the file manager or GIMP or sometimes X itself. It really is too chancy now for serious use, I'd suggest 4GB minimum.


Sounds like a software problem to me. Put Debian on them with a Xfce/LXDE/i3wm session, and 2GB should be more than enough. 4GB is outright plentiful.


I just replaced my wife's failing 2013 MBP; meanwhile, my 2009 MBP with "real" parts (I upgraded the RAM, swapped out the battery, and replaced the HDD with an SSD), is chugging along quite happily, validating my hatred of the move from replaceable, common components to integrated parts for the argument of "thinness."


SSD is the most wonderful thing happened to me in years. Instantly change how I use computer. Now I cannot use any other than SSD.


ehh, 10 year old CPUs kinda suck. I upgraded from a 2010 MBA to a Thinkpad X240 in 2015, and it's been much better.

The Penryn Core 2 Duo made the Macbook warm and noisy (the joke was that it's called Air because the fans push a lot of air all the time), while the Haswell-ULT chip literally pulls ~1W for the whole package at idle, and the fan often just stays off, and even when it's on it's very quiet.


Yes the key is that at certain points in the past there is a nice jump in perf followed by a long plateau. One recent example is in high perf intel laptop CPUs. If you got an i7 laptop 4 years ago and and then again 1 year ago (an i7-7xxx), there was little difference. If you had waited just a little longer for the i7/i9 8xxx gen, it’s suddenly a huge jump.

And one other (but not as extreme) example was the 2011 Sandy Bridge laptops such as the mbp. Several years later if you got a new dual core the difference wasn’t that big.

(I’m now talking perf only, not temp, noise, idle power,... - I typically don’t even use laptops witiut the power cord attached)


Yep. I’ve got a mid-2012 Macbook Air as my personal machine. Was thinking about picking up a new 2018 one only to realise that the CPU had increased by 50% in that time. Substantial, sure, but not enough to bother spending another €1500. Cheaper to spend a few hours optimising the long-running scripts I was using at the time.


I don't really understand how we've all been shocked by this. From https://www.maketecheasier.com/why-cpu-clock-speed-isnt-incr...:

> "Thanks to the limitations of physics and the current transistor material designs, increasing clock speed is not currently the best way to increase computational power."

In around 2006, the CPU industry became a commodity industry & innovation has since come in the form of Instruction Level Parallelism (ILP) rather than the engineering of faster CPUs. That shift is responsible for your 10+ year old laptop still being viable.


Forms of ILP have been around much longer than 2006 e.g. branch prediction. The main industry "event" that concluded the "frequency wars" was the commercial flop of the Pentium 4. Modern high-performance CPUs are not a commodity industry - due to the requirements for a high IPC, only Intel, Apple, and AMD can really claim to have "industry leading" products.


> "Forms of ILP have been around much longer than 2006"

You're absolutely right, but what I'm trying to get across is that the CPU design problem has largely shifted from being capacity-based to being efficiency-based, and this happened pretty silently in 2006. Sure there is still innovation capacity in the CPU industry, but it's qualitatively not the same kind of approach which evolved the Apple 2 into the iPhone.

Personally I look at the energy efficiency of the human brain and think there's a lot of performance improvement to be done for synthetic processors, I just don't think major developments will be as easy, fast, or predictable as they were before individual CPUs kind of stopped getting faster.


My daily driver is mid-2012 pre-retina MBP. It's entirely adequate. I fear the day it dies because there are no more non-glossy MBPs, and I'm either going to have to make the choice to give up a matte display or give up macOS.

It did recently go down and I pulled out a 2008 MBP. Mostly adequate, lag does start to show, though. My guess is that it's an issue of constrained memory (max 4GB?) as much as processor. Tops out at El Capitan, though, so it won't be viable too much longer. Linux seems to be the slow lane of the upgrade treadmill.


Recent-ish (10.7 and later) versions of macOS tend to fall apart under memory pressure with traditional hard disks-- more so than previous versions did or than Windows does on similar hardware. My hunch is that they changed something in their virtual memory subsystem to takes advantage of characteristics of SSDs that isn't quite so friendly when your drive has significant seek times.

A consequence of this is that an SSD upgrade in machines of that era can be quite dramatic, especially if you're memory-constrained. Might not be too helpful in the 2008-era machine (an SSD might be bus-limited there, not sure what generation of SATA those machines have), but the impact on a 2012-era machine (if it shipped with a traditional hard disk) can be huge.


Yes. During that period when you could get 64GB in a Windows desktop replacement laptop but only 16 in a top-of-the-line MBP, they reworked their memory systems to (IIRC) do some sort of predictive paging to improve responsiveness under memory pressure.

It's surprisingly effective with an SSD and even just 8GB RAM, though 16GB is still more comfortable. It seems to work better when the memory demand is coming from multiple apps rather than from a single app with lots of windows/tabs/etc.


> Recent-ish (10.7 and later) versions

10.7 (Lion) came out nearly 8 years ago. That's the sort of difference in time between windows 3.1 and windows XP


Yup. I have an office full of Mac mini’s from the 2014 series. The real basic ones with a SSD swapped in are totally fast and viable machines for just about anyone that’s not doing video or data intensive stuff.


My 2009 iMac, though not a laptop, benefitted from a swap to an SSD from the HD. At the same time I added more ram to total 8 GB. It works very well for me.


That's also my experience with a 2009 MBP. Swapped out the HD for an SSD, maxed the RAM, and put in a new battery, and had an adequate machine for most daily tasks.

It showed it's age and lagged a lot with more intensive software like Fusion 360, but overall was a pretty good machine for 10 years.


There’s a guy that has built a patching tool to “Hackintosh” an older, unsupported Mac with the newest OS:

http://dosdude1.com/mojave/


Thank you! I'd wondered about that. I'm on the fence about whether it's worth sticking with old Apple hardware if going that route -- if you're going to hackintosh, maybe current spec'd hardware is a better target? -- but there's a case that it's less likely to have problems (and perhaps an ethical case regarding respect for Apple's licensing rights).


I still use a 2010 MBP. I think it's at the end of MacOS X support. The battery doesn't last long. Rather than spend money buying a new battery, I should probably replace the whole laptop.

But it still works!


/tpg/ on /g/ is probably my favorite aspect of 4chan besides /prog/

Thinkpads are wonderful machines with lots of upgrade options. A T61 with an SSD and ram upgrade is quite usable for most everything except high quality video playback .Performance on win10 is ram dependent but with i3 and debian installed ram usage at idle is so so so low (sub gig)


I wish my T420 wasn't in such bad shape. It works... mostly. But the physical case is beat to all hell because it came through college with me, spent every day in a bag, survived a few high falls to concrete. It'd still be a viable machine if I put in a new battery, SSD, and found a few replacement keys.


I watch a lot of video so streaming + local 1080p+ (or even 4K) playback is a must for me at high bitrates. What's the oldest Thinkpad device that can handle that I wonder?


I would link to /tpg/ but i cannot currently. if you ctrl f /g/'s catalog for '/tpg/' there should be a link to a wiki that gives a great rundown of every model.

If you have a complete aversion to 4chan, any model that has a 1080p screen would be a good quantifier, I am not sure how many pre IBM sale thinkpads exist with that requirement though. The W series tends to have the best graphics processors as well. The T series being their general line and the X being their portable smaller laptops.


For what's worth, I get <1GB mem usage with Cinnamon as well.


Middle management at my $FORTUNE_500 was the opposite, and I'd been using a 10 year old laptop for development with the exception of an SSD upgrade a wonderful IT dude gifted me when he saw that the mandatory malware scanner was eating 100% of the drive bandwidth almost all the time. So if your workplace is good to you with new systems be thankful. I didn't get mine until IT was outsourced and the outsourced guys couldn't figure out how to buy the right SODIMMs for my ancient lappy to get it to 16gb.


Feel free to ignore if you don't want to answer, but why do you put up with this? Why not go to another company that isn't so ridiculously stingy with hardware?


Yeah, you're basically causing more problems than you're solving if you're stingy with hardware to that degree. My company is smart about it, IMO - cheapest new MBP 13 variant (no touchbar from 2017), but maxes out SSD and RAM. It's light, thin, and has great battery life for office work and plugs into a provided thunderbolt dock at a desk.


For the price of the 2017, 13 inch, non-touchbar with 16GB ram and 1TB SSD you can get the base model 15 inch, with 3x as many cores and DDR4, not LPDDR3 ram. Doesn't really make sense.


Well we have 512gb SSD not 1TB (forgot the base model offered that) and our workloads aren’t core heavy - we have AWS instances for that.


I'm not the parent, but I think it's hard to tell what a company's hardware/software policies are. I'm at my second job out of undergrad and both have bait-and-switched me by promising that I'd get to use Linux but having a Windows spinning rust machine waiting for me. I've had to fight just to bring in my own ergonomic mouse. Some companies really care more about controlling you than productivity.


No it's a great question. I'm otherwise comfortable where I'm at, the benefits are excellent, but mostly because I don't want to relocate.


My Vaio FE11s from 2006 also still works well. I'm not really surprised. Especially when you do text based stuff. During the time I wrote my MSc thesis (in 2005) in LaTeX, I used a very old Toshiba Satellite (it looked like this Toshiba Satellite Pro 420 from 1996 [0]). It had a 2GB hard drive so I had to carefully select the software packages that Slackware wanted to install. But it worked a I wrote parts of my thesis on it (blackbox window manager, nedit as editor iirc), I probably still could.

But it's getting harder and harder to find 32 bit images. I like Ubuntu Mate 18.04 32 bit though, I recently installed it on my Eee 1000he (2009, Intel Atom CPU) for my son. I could even stream Netflix in Firefox. Not smoothly though. I wanted to fit it with an SSD... but I believe there are no PATA SSD drives :) (at least not in my possession currently.) Not sure if it would make a difference also given the speed op PATA.

[0] http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/23468/Toshiba-Satelli...


+1 for Sony. This comment is written on a 2009 VAIO FW-4xx series w/big beautiful 16.4-inch FullHD screen, HDMI, dual-band wifi, SD slot, VGA, Bluetooth, dedicated GPU. Upgraded to USB 3.0 via the PC Card slot (eSATA too). Amazing keyboard and touchpad. Yes I've upgraded RAM and added an SSD (both upgradable without opening the case).

Best part of my VAIO: it runs Win7 Pro. Compared to a 2015-era Dell Latitude running Win10 Pro, it is more stable (Chrome crashes regularly on Win10, seems 8gb RAM is not enough for Win10), better touchpad (new ones lack edge scrolling), quieter & less active fan, way less behind-the-scenes activity (updates, unwanted services, malware checks, etc), Aero's look & feel is so much better than Win10. I really, really, can't understand Microsoft's strategy in removing so many of the good things about Win 7. Does anyone prefer the Win 10 UI over Aero???

The (very minor) cons of this 10-year old laptop: Blu-Ray drive no longer works. No sound except through headphones. The manual "wireless" switch no longer deactivates wifi/BT. Battery life was never very good, the machine is pretty much useless if I am not near a plug.

Really wish Sony was still in the laptop game.


> but I believe there are no PATA SSD drives

There are a few. They mostly use the same controller chips that CompactFlash cards use, and you may be better off getting a high-end CF card and an adapter. SATA to IDE bridge chips also exist, but I doubt you'll find an adapter packaged correctly for use in a notebook.


OWC sells the 'Aura Legacy' PATA SSD (macsales.com)


> Either laptop improvements are well into diminishing returns, or progress in hardware has stagnated, or both.

Sort of. The part about diminishing returns is arguably true, but hardware didn't stagnated.

What happened is that _software_ stopped bloating and inflating like a balloon, as was the norm through the '80s, '90s and early '00s.

When a Microsoft OS requires _less_ resources than it's predecessors (like early Win7 compared to early Vista), you know upgrade cycles will be much longer than before.

Unless you're handling high definition video or playing AAA games, of course. But for any other "mundane" task, the only reason to upgrade from a 5 or 6 years old machine would be an un-repairable hardware malfunction.


> What happened is that _software_ stopped bloating and inflating like a balloon, as was the norm through the '80s, '90s and early '00s.

Is that true though?

Windows might have gotten more efficient but I think overall most software has gotten worse from a performance perspective. With the prevalence of Electron everywhere, performance doesn't even seem to be a priority anymore. And "native" apps using WPF, etc. aren't as optimized as old school WinForms, MFC style apps (though there are other benefits to be had).


It doesn’t strike me as true either. I was just thinking about how my Intel MacBook came with 1GB in fall 2006 (stock was 512 MB, iirc).

Granted, that wasn’t a professional machine, but I’d say expected memory for a machine has grown 4x in a dozen years.


My first desktop was a Compaq Presario CDS 520, in 1994. It was a 486/66, and came with 4 MB of RAM and a 450MB HDD. I want to say my parents paid $2,400 for it, but would have to double check to be sure.

A dozen years later would be 2006 - if memory serves, a decent laptop in those days would have run you about $1,200-1,500, and would have come with a Core 2 Duo @ ~1.2Ghz, 2GB of RAM, and a ~40GB HDD.

That's a lot more than a 4x increase in specs!


> What happened is that _software_ stopped bloating and inflating like a balloon, as was the norm through the '80s, '90s and early '00s.

I don't think this is true, especially with the growing trend towards web apps being repackaged as desktop applications.


> What happened is that _software_ stopped bloating and inflating like a balloon, as was the norm through the '80s, '90s and early '00s.

And then Electron came out and... well, there went that dream.


Luckily the amount of Electron apps on most people's life is pretty thin.


I bet if somebody held a gun to my head, and I was at least allowed to dial in via modem to a *nix server with node.js on it - I could probably do my current job, to a certain bare-bones level...

...using my TRS-80 Model 100.

Don't get me wrong - it would be a nightmare and no fun, and some things just wouldn't be possible.

Though that's definitely not what the author had in mind...


Someone needs to make a modern day equivalent of a Model 100. By that, I mean a highly portable instant-on computer one can do remote terminal work on with seemingly endless battery life.

The first programming job I was ever paid for, I did a large part of dialed in through a modem over landlines. Emacs was fantastic for that! (Because it's an OS masquerading as an editor.)


For the first year or so of my job, I actually used a chromebook to SSH into my work desktop to do work remotely. (I'm a Googler and they were pushing new hires to try the chromebook over the more traditional macbook/thinkpad.) It was fantastic! The chromebook itself basically does nothing so the battery life is absurd, 10-12 hours easy. The chromebook starts up really fast because, again, the machine itself does almost nothing. It's certainly nothing like the portability or the stupid long battery life of a TRS-80, but it's a step in that direction.

I later swapped to a macbook because the chromebook kept dying. In that 1 year period, I went through 3 chromebooks, which all ran into some kind of memory corruption or thermally-induced restart issue. It was the HP 13 inch chromebook, which I will be avoiding like the plague in the future. I still really like the chromebook battery life and the general "very lightweight portal to the internet" kind of paradigm, though.


What were you using for an SSH client? I just started to try using a Chromebook for everything and I really dislike the Google SSH client, but I could probably get used to it.


The OLPC gizmo from the mid 2000s was pretty close.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO

A kind neighbor gave one to my kids. It had no games, so they were not really interested. I thought it was great! Super long battery life, great wifi reception with the external antennae, very ruggedized. It had some fork of Fedora iirc. I kept it in the van. There was a lot of free wifi in those days. Plenty good to ssh to a screen session while out-and-about.


We had one for each of our two kids at the ranch for a while. The Wifi range in those things was insane.


iPad Pro with a Brydge keyboard?

https://sixcolors.com/post/2018/12/brydge-pro-keyboard/

The OS has a lot of limitations on doing local development work, but if you're connecting to a remote server you get a great quality screen and remarkably long battery life. Apple lists "Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music."

Keyboard has its own battery (default connection is bluetooth, you can use a USB-C cable if that's not reliable enough). It's not clear to me if it can use its battery to charge the iPad or not. Either way, you can always carry a USB-C battery pack to extend the iPad's life even further.


I have an iPad mini with a Microsoft folding keyboard that I rather like. I guess I could buy a really stout Otter case with my iPad mini and refresh the battery (getting old) and it would serve fairly well in that role.

The thing about the Model 100, was it was pretty robust. Not mil-spec, but pretty darn good for a consumer device. I've read about it being used by researchers someplace like Antarctica. iPads are pretty good that way, but they do feel like a luxury device.

I'd like to see more "consumer-level stout" devices. Give me plastic: much more robustness without added weight, and let me just not worry about knocking the thing around.


I actually like the "put a case on it" approach for robustness. It lets the devices be smaller, while leaving the degree of protection and bulkiness up to individual users. Case in point, I have a very slim case on my iPhone SE and tend not to drop it, but a lot of people I know with larger phones put the 2-layer rubber + plastic Otter style cases on them because they get dropped a lot. Others have smaller or no cases, but use pop-sockets and finger loops stuck on the back to make them grippable.

On the iPad side of things you have options like the Rugged Book Go from Zagg: https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/01/07/ipad-ipad-pro-get...

Apple's phones have turned into absurdly priced luxury items, but the $800 starting price for an 11" iPad Pro feels pretty reasonable for what it is.

EDIT - admittedly the hardware is overkill for running terminal sessions, something more like a Chromebook would be a cheaper fit if the battery life and screen were of similar quality


I wouldn't call a 10 hours battery life as an "endless battery life". On my ASUS Transformer Book T100, which is a full Windows 10 device, I had a battery life of about 10 hours and I didn't called that endless yet.


There's got to be a way...Basically just a pure ssh client, thats all, no OS, nothing else, just ssh on whatever most minimal cpu can run it, a keyboard, and a screen.

I guess it isn't considered important because we all have phones most likely charged, but still, it would be nice


I used an Acer C720 Chromebook as a remote terminal for quite some time. Eventually, though, I could no longer resist the urge to put a full blown Linux distro on it though :)


> highly portable instant-on computer one can do remote terminal work on with seemingly endless battery life

Most chromebooks fit this bill nicely. Pixelbook is fantastic if you also want a premium hardware experience and native ability to run a linux environment locally.


> Someone needs to make a modern day equivalent of a Model 100. By that, I mean a highly portable instant-on computer one can do remote terminal work on with seemingly endless battery life.

They do. They are called Chromebooks.


Chromebooks suck. Just buy a cheap Windows laptop (and most recent models are going for the Chromebook-like "ultrabook" form factor anyway, even at the low end) and put lightweight Linux on it. You don't really get better specs for the price if you go the Chromebook route, and the whole way they're setup makes them pointless toys.

(...No, I'm not going to look for the correct custom firmware for whatever my model of Chromebook happens to be, or put up with a machine that will wipe its storage unless I hit the right key combo as it boots! Again, that's hardly a marker of a professionally-built device!)


No, for the stated purpose (an "instant on" portable remote terminal with long battery life), a Chromebook is far superior to a cheap windows laptop. The Chromebook will go from out of the box to fully configured in about 5 minutes. The cheap windows laptop will still be installing linux, and you'll be bashing your head against the wall trying to get the wifi to work because it's a weird chinese copy of a no-name device that has no linux or other open-source drivers.


I got my mother-in-law a chromebook 2+ years ago. Haven't had a single support call since then, until she came round to stay and wanted to connect to our wifi to watch netflix.

This didn't happen with a cheap windows laptop, and likely wouldn't have happened with a roll-your-own linux laptop.

A chromebook isn't for me, or you, but it's great for parents/inlaws.


If you need to manage a fleet of machines for tech-challenged staff, Chromebooks using the Chrome management license is quite amazing, if imperfect in some ways.

Set Kiosk-mode for all the machines and if a user has a problem, close the lid and open again, its working again.

Need everyone to have a new tab in the browser? Update in the management and boom, everyone has it.

Of course, the usage case assumes the users will do everything on the cloud using Chrome but that's surprisingly usable these days for non-tech users.

The license is really cheap for non profits (like $30) but is about $150 for regular businesses. It seems like quite an add-on for a $300 Chromebook but it really turns end-user computing fleet management into almost a set-it-and-forget it appliance.


Besides web browsing I could potentially do a lot of my work on an early 80s machine. Even a non connected one would mostly do fine. I would need two of them at least for coding (I had 2 of them in the 80s as well for coding; crashing is normal as there is no protection when you mess up, and booting is fast but still a hassle, so two or more machines with a monitor switch was the faster solution) but I would get quite far given a bit of patience. It is insane how slow these machines were compared to what we have now, but with some effort, people get to run stuff like Symbos[1] on them and for some jobs that works. Web browsing is just quite impossible: many html pages do not even fit in memory, let alone allowing rendering. Solutions are sticking a Pi in the cartridge port that sends lynx rendered pages for instance, but that is cheating. So then a modem to a linux machine would be the better option.

[1] http://www.symbos.de/


I think it's the difference between possible and viable. I mean I have plenty of devices that are possible to work on but not really very viable. But, like the author, it's surprising how well you can get by. I've done useful work on my 8.4" tablet with a keyboard and remoted into a server.


I have a very old Thinkpad X40 convertible which I use occasionally as pretty much a dumb terminal. It runs the latest i386 version of xubuntu. CPU is a single core Pentium M something, 1.5GB of RAM, 40GB hard drive.

https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Category:X40

It works totally fine for SSH sessions and a web browser interface to not-very-complicated intranet tools accessed via a VPN, such as ticketing system, network monitoring software, etc.

If I want to leave a monitoring display of something running, I fullscreen it in a browser, rotate the thing into its tablet mode and prop it up against something on my desk.


In fall of 2016 (the start of my senior year of university), I bought a Thinkpad X40 for $40. After putting a 32GB CompactFlash card in, installing Debian, and increasing the RAM to 1GB, I started using it as my primary computer. (I didn't have to do that, I had a perfectly-good Thinkpad T430, but I wanted to give the X40 a good try.)

(For the record, my X40 had an ultra-low voltage Pentium M Dothan running at 1.1 GHz.)

It worked great for me, and did everything I needed or wanted it to do. I actually didn't use my T430 at all that school year, because the X40 worked fine for everything I was doing.

Unsurprisingly, it was fine for doing assignments in Python and C. It wasn't perfect with DrRacket -- I had to close and reopen every half hour as memory usage increased -- but it worked, and then I realized I could just use `gracket` or `racket`. I did a bunch of PDF/image editing in GIMP to clean up the lousy scans one of my professors gave us every week to read from. I wrote papers and presentations in LibreOffice. I killed time on reddit. I taught myself how to do CAD in SolveSpace. Most impressively, I ran CompuCell (a voxel-based biochemsitry simulator) in a windows virtual machine, fully interactively and only slightly slower than my classmates' computers.

I loved that computer. The battery would easily through one 90-minute class, and I could stretch it through two if I knew I wouldn't have an outlet. The keyboard was perfectly sized for me, and very comfy to type on. The trackpoint worked and felt great. (People didn't ask to borrow the laptop, since it din't have a trackpad.) The display fitted a satisfactory amount of stuff on it. It had real USB ports on it, just as people started having laptops without any USB-A ports at all. Using a laptop that was just able to do everything I needed it to do, I felt a lot more like I was working with the laptop, rather than just on it. (Perhaps this is a similar feeling to what people get when driving Maxda Miatas or BMW M3s -- working with the machine to get the most out of it.) And, in my eyes, it looked great -- a platonic ideal of a laptop.

Unfortunately, the X40 has a fatal flaw -- the southbridge tends to die. When that happened, I spent another $30 on a new motherboard. That also died, right around the end of the school year, in late spring of 2017. I decided I didn't want to to through that again, and I gave away the husk of my favorite computer ever -- my own "oldest viable laptop".


I bought an x41t to use for school a long time ago. It was an ebay special, $100. The slow HDD was a pain in the ass since it didn't use standard 2.5" drives so I couldn't easily swap in a SSD. I had an issue with it where the Wacom touchscreen would have weird interference issues when in Linux but not in Windows. The solution ended up being taking about the display and taping a couple layers of tinfoil to the back of the panel. This oversized doorstop chugged along a few more semesters until I bought an x200t for $100 on ebay to replace it since some mandatory software I needed for school stopped supporting 32-bit CPUs.


I wonder how a $150 chromebook would compare.

$150 is in the territory of "Drive to store and buy in an emergency".


Probably a lot faster, in terms of cpu and ability to render resource intensive webpages inside firefox v65. But this was also $40 four years ago.

Having a normal xubuntu environment does give an advantage of being able to install a much wider variety of software compared to the chromebook OS, unless we're talking about replacing the chromebook OS with debian + xorg + your choice of desktop environment.


My Samsung Chromebook 3 is a pretty poor performer, but I love the matte screen and battery life. I use Termux all day long with Typescript background-compiling.

I wouldn't run Xcode on a non-SSD MBP, though.


X40s are great for journaling. :)


For reference, a 2007 era Apple laptop would be one of these:

- https://everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/specs/macbook...

- https://everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook/specs/macbook-cor...

And you'd be able to run up to 10.11 (El Capitan) on the Pro or 10.7 (Lion) on the MacBook.


You can hackintosh some old Macs to run Mojave using http://dosdude1.com/mojave/


This isn't really a Hackintosh, since you're running the OS on genuine Apple hardware.


> And you'd be able to run up to 10.11 (El Capitan) on the Pro or 10.7 (Lion) on the MacBook.

or switch to any current linux, if you can figure out the 32bit efi booting


> if you can figure out the 32bit efi booting

Multiboot Debian ISO FTW, there. (And rEFInd 32-bit as a bootloader for the installed system.) This trick also helps deal with crappy low-end hardware that is 64-bit capable but ships with 32-bit UEFI and Win 8/10 installs. (They do this, or at least used to, because Win 8/10 in UEFI mode is restricted to running the same architecture that the UEFI is. A 32-bit UEFI only runs 32-bit Windows, and 64-bit UEFI only runs 64-bit Windows. Of course, Linux is not so restricted - and it certainly can boot from 32-bit UEFI and then switch cleanly to 64-bit operation!)


I found the most interesting part at the bottom where he said he got his MacBook back and is still using his old 2007 ThinkPad more than the Mac now.


Not at all surprising. Mac keyboards have been coming down in quality, and Thinkpads through the x20 series have absolutely incredible keyboards.

If your primary use is typing (coding), you'll probably prefer the machine that's better to type on.


Not surprising, I use a 2018 mbp at work yet prefer my thinkpad x220 which came out in 2011.


Heh, there are quite a few people on /r/thinkpad who thinks "something about this machine that causes me to favor it" -- aye, there is, quite a lot in fact. And yes, even the X61 is usable today and the Sandy Bridge based X220/T420/T420s being the last factory machines with the classic keyboard have something of a cult following. As I mentioned many a times before here, from Sandy Bridge to Kaby Lake IPC have only grown 20% and while power efficiency has grown significantly it's been negated by switching to 15W CPUs instead of 35W so it's no wonder the performance is vaguely similar. https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Core-i5-2520M-vs... Edit: and as a comment below notes, since ThinkPads are typically bought in fleets, any ThinkPad older than three years is typically very cheap on eBay. Buying cheap old ThinkPads instead of similarly priced new laptops at retail outlets is one of those "lifehacks" I suppose. Their ease of maintenance and parts availability combined with the stalled CPU speed growth makes this a very viable strategy.

The best ThinkPad of course is the 25th Anniversary Edition having 2017 hardware with the classic keyboard. That's what I am typing on right now. The next best is a hackfest: take a T430s with an i7 iGPU, for some demented reason Lenovo put a Thunderbolt 1 controller in those (also the S430 and then the next ThinkPad with Thunderbolt is the P50 w/ TB3 four years later). Now comes the hacking: add the classic keyboard and also the high quality full HD screen from the T440s using a Chinese converter kit -- the 30 series used LVDS, the panel uses eDP so you need a converter. I have a T420s with that hack. Thunderbolt 1 is obviously slower than Thunderbolt 3 but still, any TB3 eGPU enclosure will work. As the T430s can have two 2.5" SSDs and an mSATA SSD, you can add quite an amount of solid storage to this -- much more than the TP25, the TP25 maxes out at 2.5TB currently, while the T430s can do 9TB. The NVMe disks are of course faster in the TP25 (even though one is x2 the other is x1) but the feeling in everyday tasks is not going to be vastly different -- the big jump is in HDD to SSD. You are also limited to 16GB RAM vs the 32GB RAM in the TP25. And the CPUs are even closer: https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Core-i7-3520M-vs... Your battery life won't be awesome, alas.


I've got an X220 and it's fast enough for everything but gaming (which is to say I can run UDK and Godot on it, but the HDD is too small to justify installing any AAA titles), and rugged/cheap enough that I don't feel too bad putting it through the wringer. Old fleet machine, picked it up refurbished.


Good point on power dissipation and efficiency-- a T480 might not be substantially faster than a T430, but it's half the size and the battery lasts longer.


They're much faster. 50-60% on the single core stuff and 300% faster on multi-core tests.

Not to mention they cruise along on things that use the newer extensions for things like video playback, plus the integrated graphics hardware is much much faster


> They're much faster. 50-60% on the single core stuff and 300% faster on multi-core tests.

[citation needed] 50-60% is absurdly large for single core, the reality is 20%, and 300% is crazy. The T480 uses a 15W quad core on the same 14nm process as the 15W chip in the T470 and because it's slightly more power efficient there's a little gain, about 25-30%. So the difference between the Sandy Bridge T420 to Kaby Lake Refresh T480 is perhaps 50% in multi core.

Here's my favorite Sandy Bridge to Kaby Lake IPC benchmark collection: https://www.hardocp.com/article/2017/01/13/kaby_lake_7700k_v...


I'm just going on Cinebench scores I've done on my own machines.

    T480S i5 141
    T460S i5 105
    X220  i5 100
Not much of a jump in the 4 generations from the X220 to the T460S but quite a jump going to the T480S.

Double the score of the X220 and quadruple the score of the T480 and you're going to end up about 575 to 205 for multicore, which is almost 3X as fast.

This doesn't even bring GPU or SSD performance into the picture. Just raw CPU.

I love my X220 but Windows 10 will regularly bring it to it's knees, even with an SSD and 8GB of RAM. And that's not even doing anything, I'm not sure if it's updating or what. Not to mention it's not exactly a thin machine, the 1366x768 screen is mediocre...The 1080/2K IPS screens coming to the Thinkpad line finally made them usable, IMO. Even the old IPS screens in the X220 tablets were still dim, low-resolution, etc.


Isn't Cinebench multicore? This is in line with what I would expect for multicore results...


You can run it either way. Those are single-core results


I remember Lenovos marketing for the new keyboards. They were branded as a significant improvement for typing over the old ones. Bizarre.


I'm assuming OP is running Ubuntu 16.04 since 18.04 lacks support for 32-bit. Sounds like OP is a very casual linux user so maybe would rather not invest any effort into it, but Fedora still supports 32-bit and makes an amazing desktop experience. Highly recommend trying it out. It might render the software complaints moot since a lot has changed in 3 years.


The standard CPU in the x61 is a T7300, which is a 64 bit CPU. I really don't understand the need for 16.04 at all.


Yup, I have an X61s running Xubuntu 18.04 quite nicely. 2Gb and a cheap 64Gb SSD.


oh haha, I stand corrected, thanks.


Not sure it's really true that a 1997 laptop would not have been OK for 2007. I nursed a PowerBook G3 "Pismo" along until at least 2007. It had Rage 128 graphics and 1024x768 display just like this ThinkPad. Yes it had an upgraded G4 CPU and replacement batteries, but the X60 on which I am typing this message has a $$$ SSD in it, too.


I used a 12" PowerBook G4 daily up until a couple of years ago.


As I mentioned in a previous thread [0], I upgraded an old X61 with a custom mainboard produced by a group of enthusiasts in China 1.5 years ago and never looked back.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18273305


I'm the author of this blog post. Soon after I wrote it, I got an X62 and did the daylight LED mod on it: https://geoff.greer.fm/2017/07/16/thinkpad-x62/


Damn the bezel around the keyboard is so sexy on that machine. That's exactly what I would want but no one sells something like that off the shelf with a warranty. I still rock my X230 but the display is garbage.


A related question that is also interesting:

What is the oldest laptop that can run an up-to-date, internet connected OS (i.e a museum device with the same OS from 1991 doesn't count). It doesn't have to have a fancy desktop, but it does have to support connectivity to the internet, and run all the latest security patches and updates.

This is different than the article because optimizing productivity isn't an objective, just how long the device can be updated before it becomes impossible to do so anymore, analogous to vintage car maintenance.


I've got a 486-class machine with 32MB of RAM running an up-to-date unix as my firewall. It really depends on what you want the machine to do for graphics and javascript and whatnot.


Which unix?


It evolved from a stripped down Debian originally to Core Linux today. It's just a firewall, so it hardly needs any software.


Whether Linux is "a unix" I suppose would be a big debate. :)


Debian is wonderful for their old hardware support - they even patch Firefox so it will run on old 32-bit CPU's. You do need a PAE-capable (if 32-bit) CPU, and at least 512MB RAM for a tolerable experience. (You can even surf the web on 512MB, but then the machine will start to swap and feel quite sluggish. For a good web-surfing experience, you'll need 1GB.) For machines that are even older and less capable, you could try getting them to work with TinyCore, but I've not actually tried doing that recently.

For really, really old hardware, I suppose FreeDOS is always an option-- they're currently working on version 1.3, so it would theoretically count as something that's "up to date" - although I wouldn't actually trust FreeDOS software to be secure on today's internet. It does have an auto-updater of sorts, though, FDIMPLES.


I run Debian on my OLPC XO-1, which has 256 MB of RAM. Firefox launches, but swaps on all but the simplest of pages. WebKit-based browsers are about the same. Seamonkey uses notably less memory and CPU, but still feels constrained. Netsurf, Dillo, xLinks, and text-based browsers all run fine.

In my experience with older Thinkpads, 512 MB is adequate for basic browsing with Firefox, 640 MB allows you to avoid swapping on most heavier pages, and 1GB is enough for even the most intense pages, and is adequate for browsing with numerous tabs open.

TinyCore isn't really any lighter or faster than Debian in most respects. It has a tiny install size, but that's because it either downloaded applications from the internet or loads them from .tgz files. It isn't substantially faster or less memory-hungry.


I think this could be defined into two categories, things with CLI only, and things that can run a reasonably modern GUI.

In the first category you'd have trouble finding a modern linux kernel for 32-bit, and distro, that is actually "i386". Since most things long ago dropped support for CPUs that don't have the i586 extensions and things like MMX/SSE. The 32-bit kernels you can get now, as far as I know, require at least a P166MMX or better to function properly.

In the second category, you need something with enough CPU and RAM resources to run a barebones xorg + openbox desktop environment, or xfce, or lxde, or similar. And then the ability to run a browser and terminal applications.


OpenBSD i386 supports "all CPUs compatible with the Intel 80486 or better, with Intel-compatible hardware floating point"

https://www.openbsd.org/i386.html

NetBSD i386 says "Any i486 or better CPU should work - genuine Intel or a compatible such as Cyrix, AMD, or NexGen."

https://wiki.netbsd.org/ports/i386/


If you are wondering "why drop support for the 386?," the diff for the removal of 386 support from the Linux kernel is a good read:

https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/lin...

tl;dr atomic instructions XADD and CMPXCHG, and serious bugs in many 386 CPUs. Also BSWAP was added in the 486 and speeds some things up a lot.


Looking back at old Thinkpad models, I wouldn't be all surprised to see Debian Stretch and Firefox on a T20 from 2000, if it had full memory upgrade (to apparently 512M). 600X from 1999 might be the limit (first PIII model). Much beyond that I feel things start to get much sketchier. You might start to run into ISA issues with older CPUs or memory limits. Additionally 90s laptops especially might have had more exotic peripherals which might not be fully supported anymore, if they ever were. Going below 1024x768 resolution would be problematic also.

For more practical use I'd draw the line to 2003; with T40/R40 you got USB 2.0 and Wifi, both things that make life much easier. From spec point of view you got Pentium M CPU (with SSE2 and all) and top end models shipped with 512M of RAM (upgradeable to at least 1GB!).

That also serves to demonstrate what dramatic progress happened in just 3-4 years.

The next 3-4 years also saw fairly significant improvements, T61 from 2007 has SATA (allowing SSD upgrade) and first 64 bit CPUs, supporting up to 8 GB of RAM. That gets you in the realm of mostly practical daily driver.


Contiki, an actively-developed IOT OS, supports 6502-based hardware, including the Apple ][e, Atari XLs, and the Commodore 64. Among other useful applications, it has an http server, email client, an irc client, a web browser, a desktop GUI, and a VNC.

The Apple //c is already pretty close to a laptop, and can be turned into a laptop with Apple's the flat panel display and third-party batteries.

If laptop-ifying a desktop is okay, there are people who have turned Atari XLs and Commodore 64s into laptops.

For all of these ancient computers, you can easily buy or build ethernet (or, more recently, esp8266-based wifi!) adapters.

The biggest catch that I know of is that you would need a newer computer to periodically build and flash updates. Contiki is not self-hosting.


I used ThinkPad X32 (2004) with 768MB RAM as primary laptop until around 2015 (I switched to X200s because I got one for essentially free, not because the X32 could not keep up) and it was certainly usable for both development work and web browsing including youtube and social media (today it is not).

On a similar note our Logistics Manager had used T42 with Windows 7 on daily basis as his only work computer well into second half of 2018. Coincidentally just today I had repurposed that particular T42 to serve as host for various industrial automation related configuration tools.


I'm no expert in the matter, but I'd imagine the Lubuntu team has a lot of insight into that[1].

[1] https://docs.lubuntu.net/lubuntu_installation_on_old_compute...


A majority of the bottle necks I've encountered have been ram. Maybe battery life secondarily. This is from a performance perspective. For software development work flow. Not trying to run the entire environment on my laptop. Barring of course something like constant video encoding or high cpu usage. Past that we're seeing improvements in weight, and display.

I've used thinkpads for a while. Starting off with a T430. With a quad core, and 16gb of ram and three SSDs. The two pain points were the display and weight.

I upgraded to a T440s, which fixed the screen and weight. But the ram became a deficit (12GB max). I worked around this by RDPing into a dedicated server I colocated. This offered a beefier desktop on demand (32GB ram + hexa core). But this also faltered because of poor internet connection outside of my home generally. The thin client works very well, as long as you have good internet. But good internet is very difficult to find.

I upgraded to an A485, most recent ryzen. It clocked in around 1200 after upgrades. All my older thinkpads were around 200 total. It's not worth it.

It's not just the core components. The dock was an extra 200. I picked up older thinkpad docks and carried the same model for several generations. I got them used I think for under 50. I had one at every junction of my house. Dock to the media center, desk, bedroom, etc.

From what I've seen the next thinkpad line is going to be even less upgradeble. Which is a real shame. That feature really extended the life of any business model.


I have my ~2008 T61 as my pfsense router now. I was using it until about 2-3 years ago, but I felt it was barely usable anymore. I think anything with a Core 2 duo is past its useful life. Anything just slightly newer with Nehalem? I think would still be usable today.


I have a Core 2 Duo machine running Elementary I break out once a month or so since it has some cool synth software on it. It's totally usable for me, and that's with a pretty bloated OS compared to alternatives.


Sure, for specific applications, almost any computer could still have a useful purpose (hence me reusing my T61 for a router) but we are talking about a daily driver here. In my case, browsing the web became noticeably slower, especially watching videos. I began to suspect my CPU/Intel GPU lacked native support for decoding some newer video formats, but I don't know for sure. This is where its age really began to show though.


> synth software I use a 2008 MBP 17" because I have legacy versions of music production software that costs a lot, that I can no longer upgrade. It runs great, but it has an occasional memory buffer overload when trying to record and playback too many tracks at once.


This is the machine journalists (going up against state sponsored entities with unlimited money and resources) use. It's because it's the last machine where the intel chip doesn't have that remote upgrade feature put into them since.


Just a few months ago I replaced nearly the same laptop (Thinkpad x61 in my case, with SSD and 4GB RAM upgrades).

It has served me well for 6 years (I bought it secondhand), but it started to definitely show its age.

It started to have difficulties playing youtube videos and the like, these consuming a lot of CPU, and consequently battery life started to drop to below 2 hours (plus the aging battery didn't helped), and fan noise started to get somewhat annoying. It also had some scars like marks on the screen or partially broken keys (I've not necessarily treated it well, compressing it in bags or having dropped it on more than one occasions).

It is still usable, and I will convert it for other uses (mpd server probably). But it was time to replace it with a newer laptop, the new one is a secondhand Thinkpad x250, and it's definitely an improvement, quiet, more powerful, 6 to 8 hours autonomy. I hope it will last about as long as the x61 that served me so well.


I see making computer work as long as possible an environmental cause. It took awhile, but I got my company to switch from a ridiculous 2 year cycle to a 6 year and in some cases longer cycle.. At first the higher ups were very skeptical about it. It took a lot of convincing, but we got approval to try it and everyone is still as productive as ever.

Mind you, when I purchase, I try to "future proof" them as best we can. The last batch we bought for our general office users, where i5's with 16GB ram and a 512GB SSD. For our devs, I generally set them up with a super-fast ultra-portable(think mac air or dell xps13) as most of their heavy lifting is off-loaded to our private cloud. And so far everyone report very high satisfaction with the setups provided.


2010 thinkpad x201 user here. Archlinux + XFCE4 setup. Everything works pretty smooth. Sometimes i am using software like Blender3D that requires decent hardware. Everyting works fine as a hobbyist.

As long as it does not fall and break apart, it is gonna work forever. But hey, it is thinkpad so...


Battery life is necessary to do my job, and is pretty much the only reason I get new hardware now.


Ah, well you need TWO old laptops. When I go babysitting and know that they aren't going to come back when they said they would then the second laptop in my bag comes in handy. Of course I could take the power adaptor instead but a second laptop weighs about the same.

Sometimes a bit of time spent with no mains supply makes you value electricity that bit more and how big your carbon footprint really is. You can also decide to dim the screen a bit and do some real work as playing some rubbish video will bring that power meter into the red way before the parents come back.

Also it is a good way of finding out how long the battery actually lasts. One imagines there will be four hours or more but then that isn't necessarily so, particularly if running Ubuntu with the bottom of the machine so nice and toasty.


New batteries are still being made for old Thinkpads. It's all the same cells anyway, just a different form factor (and a simple internal board).


It's wondrous to me how viable an old laptop can be. My daily driver is a "Ship of Theseus" Dell D630 from 2008 and it's perfectly usable for the sysadmin work I do. The lack of USB 3.0 is maddening, but that aside it's fine for my day-to-day document prep and admin, scripting, mail, and web browsing. Installing an SSD added years to the machine's life. I'm on my third keyboard and second lid (hinge failure) but both of those are, arguably, wear items. >smile<

(I've had a brand new Latitude sitting unused for over a year now. I just can't get excited about getting used to a new keyboard or rebuilding my entire software environment on a new machine.)


I SSH into VMs and write email all day. I could get by with a text web browser at a slight loss of productivity during the steep part of the learning curve.

I could do my job on a laptop from the 90s if I really wanted to. I'm sure I'm not the only one.


Welcome to my world.


Still rocking T60p, with the NMB keyboard. If you haven't touched an NMB Thinkpad keyboard, you haven't actually used a proper Thinkpad.

One thing I found absolutely necessary to make my machine usable in 2019 was upgrading all the specs to the max.


> If you haven't touched an NMB Thinkpad keyboard, you haven't actually used a proper Thinkpad.

All these years as a Thinkpad user, and I had no idea of NMB vs ALPS vs Chicony. I thought the variation in the keyboard feel in the machines I own and have used was due to wear alone. Thank you for opening up an entirely new horizon of Thinkpad snobbery.


I do most of my work in a shell. But I love YouTube also! :)


2007 doesn't seem that old. I've got a desktop I built in 1999 that I continue to actively use. The only upgrades its ever gotten was a cable tuner card, fuck knows how long ago, a second hard drive and some extra RAM around 2007 or so. It runs ubuntu server now, but for a long time i had a full desktop running on it. Xorg is still installed if I really need a desktop environment for some reason.

It would take a long time to do things, but there's no reason i can't do pretty much anything I do on my current laptop on there.


I'm using an i7, mid-2010 17" MacBook Pro at work, its been upgraded to 16Gb of RAM and an SSD installed but otherwise its stock and works great.

I am a software-programmer and use ColdFusion builder, SQL (Azure Data Studio), and various other tools like TextWrangler, RDP, Firefox, Chrome, etc. The only complaint I have is that it won't run Mojave so no "Dark-mode" but that's ok--having used this laptop for a year now, if I can squeeze another year out of it I'll probably qualify to get a more recent model.


I'm genuinely surprised it doesn't have a touchpad. I don't think I've ever seen a laptop without one, and I used laptops back in the early/mid 90's.


It has the TrackPoint, which is sort of a famous love/hate feature. (I love it.)

The ThinkPad is my favorite all-time laptop design. No surprise to me that the author is still using it after getting his MacBook back from the shop.


The TrackPoint is the Vim of pointing devices. Need a couple thousand hours to get proficient and then everything else is inferior.


I have a trackpoint on my HP EliteBook G7, but they didn't include a middle button. So there's no way to scroll without using the scrollbar. I have to wonder if there's a patent reason or something because it seems like such a huge oversight.


The Dells at my work have a terrible Trackpoint with middle-button scroll, but it sucks badly. You have to hit the middle button, then scroll, or perhaps the other way around. Ultra-frustrating, and probably bad firmware or driver design. I'm sure the Trackpoint is a third-class citizen for Dell.


I used to love it, back when Thinkpads still had real buttons to go with it. Then they replaced them with trackpad clicking, which makes using it a pain, because it'd usually register movements besides the click, completely defeating the best feature of the TrackPoint, it's pixel-perfect precision. It was never as quick to use as a mouse, of course, but I could always position the cursor exactly where I wanted before clicking.


There's no such thing as a Thinkpad without a Trackpoint and proper buttons.


The second or third gen X1Carbon used a clickpad. And an LCD bar for the F1-F12 keys. The two design decisions were reversed in the next iteration of the laptop.


And the designer was fired and got a new job at Apple.


Alas, the L series thinkpads have the trackpoint but rely on the trackpad for clicking. Nice fast machines that have good battery life (e.g L440) but...


There were a couple of those in my last job. But apparently they reverted to having proper buttons.


The T440? They had to revert it for the next generation (T450).


Great. Now they can go back to my buying list.


Ah yes, the "randomly click on the screen while typing G or H" device. I always pulled that off mine. Didn't love that tapping it produced a mouseclick.


You can turn off tap-to-click (and I strongly recommend doing just that). Other than that it's the best pointer input device, though.


My x200 doesn't have a trackpad but the next model came with one. The space available for a trackpad is not much so I'm guessing they ditched the trackpad so that they didn't have to sacrifice keyboard real estate.

The keyboard on an x200 is one of the nicest I've ever used for a laptop of that size (12.1" display). It covers as much horizontal space as possible so you get keys that not only have a proper amount of area to not hit two keys at once but have a proper aspect ratio.

The laptop comes with a trackpoint instead which after dailying that x200 for most of my school career, I've come to love and use it on any laptop I come across.


I've used (and owned, although I bought it when it was well past obsolete) laptops without any pointing devices. Early on, trackballs were common. I personally think the ergonomics of the keyboard at the edge of the computer with a trackball hanging off the side are way better than the huge reach we have to make over a modern trackpad (or even the sizable reach on the ThinkPads in this thread). But I don't have the patience to build a frankenlaptop with an older shell and something reasonably modern inside.


> I don't think I've ever seen a laptop without one, and I used laptops back in the early/mid 90's.

Were you using PowerBooks? Touchpads were unusual in laptops until about 2000, when things started going downhill. All of the 1990s laptops I used that I can remember (IBM, Toshiba, Compaq) had superior pointing devices: trackpoint or trackballs.


Are you counting trackballs as touchpads? E.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerBook_100

I always found the trackball more usable than the touchpad ...


Yea same. The thinkpad I had from 2004 had a trackpad. Maybe the trackpad was optional?


At the time X61s was notably smaller and more expensive than its competitors and other models in the Thinkpad lineup. The "normal-sized" model T61 has both touchpad and Trackpoint, so leaving touchpad out may have something to do with the case dimensions. Maybe there were no space left for it or it would have been awkwardly positioned when using keyboard or Trackpoint, and on a more "special" model leaving it out has been a valid option. After all, T61 was available for customers absolutely requiring the touchpad.


The lack of a trackpad has to deal with not compromising space for the keyboard.


Ah yea, I did have a T series. Thanks for the info.


Probably an over-summary but basically correct: the X series optimised portability and only had a trackpoint, while the T series optimised fully-featuredness and had both trackpoint and trackpad.

I still fire up my T61 from time to time -- it's the only computer in the house that still has a DVD drive.


With meaningful innovation slowing down, I expect older laptops will become increasingly viable.


As long as vendors don’t put crappy parts in them - keyboards being the obvious one currently.


T430 owner here. Even if it's a Ivy Bridge CPU, the machine works amazingly well. I love it.

In maintenance terms It's almost a desktop. I have replaced the dual core cpu for a quad core, double the RAM, switch the hdd for an SSD, get a better battery, remove the CD drive for a 2nd caddy, added a 5GHz wi-fi card, and still have the possibility to upgrade to a IPS Panel, backlight keyboard and other gimmicks. All with a phillips screwdriver, and official lenovo guide and my thumbs.

And don't make me start talking about linux support, it's basically MacOS plug and play (in Windows you have to install a Lenovo App for the drivers).

With all the upgrades I guess you can make the case, that will all that money, I could buy a better laptop. But I don't know, there is something charming about using the same machine for a long time, and have little improvements over time, with little to no downtime and re-learning workflows.

Makes me sad, that when the time comes to replace the machine, I will not be able to repair it or upgrade as much.


I just got a refurbished Thinkpad x230 and it work great with an ubuntu 18.04 install. It has 16GB of ram, a 512GB ssd and a Intel Core i5-3320M CPU @ 2.60GHz x 4 and cost $350 on newegg.

The difference between this machine and a $1500 latest model machine strikes me as marginal and it's silly to drop four times as much money for something that is marginally faster.


I had to look that up. Looks great, but screen is a little smaller than I hoped. https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=9SIA5WM5R10...


Stick with that x230! My x240 maxes out at 8gb of ram. :(


Last year during Christmas I visited my mother for a day and she still uses my MacBook Pro from early 2008. It doesn't hold much of a charge anymore (it's on it's 2nd replacement battery) but it works delightfully for web browsing, terminal use and I'm sure that I could do most of my daily SRE work on it.


Up until last year i was rocking a 2007 black MacBook. It did fine for occasional browsing and terminal work. It would’ve rocked even longer if the JS heavy web wouldn’t cripple the web browsers. Also Google stopped supporting Chrome for it. Now it lives as a terminal running Arch Linux.

Beautiful hardware. No issues other than chipped palm rest which Apple replaced out of warranty.


This laptop is an Asus dual core from 2009, initially released with Windows 7, currently running Windows 10, maxed out to 8GB and an 1 TB SSD.

Still quite fit to run VS, Eclipse, Android Studio.

Only issue that the fan has already seen better days.

No wonder that PC makers cannot sell enough machines nowadays to keep investors happy.


I have an Asus (Model UL50V) from 2009 with an Intel Centrino- 4 GB RAM. It's my everyday machine. It is getting slow at many things (but a recent hack to Thunderbird settings helped a little). I dual boot Linux Mint 17.2 (Ubuntu 14.04 IIRC), although I haven't actually booted windows in years. I have a Toshiba Satellite for travel, windows 10, and in virtualbox I have a Mint system that basically recreates my work environment (which is usually Fluxbox).

The one good thing about about using the old system is that using Virtualbox isn't annoyingly slow.

I am looking forward to upgrading my work box to a linux-native desktop (System 76 or such) and joining the modern age! I was hoping to outwait Spectrum/<forgot other name> but now that is looking hopeless?


I do my gaming on a Desktop from 2011. It's a Core i5 with 12 GB of Ram (one bay is dead) and a Nvidia GTX 960 card.

I'm running Linux and Proton/Steamplay, and play a few AAA games from 2016. I'm not really confident that my framerate would improve much if I bought a new PC.


Good ol' Thinkpads. I have a T410 running Linux that is honestly fine for most of the work that I do day to day. If the screen was better I honestly couldn't come up with many reasons to get anything else. The keyboard alone makes it worth it.

In light of apple becoming less and less of a viable option, I have been wondering if we are going to start seeing a wave of these older machines come back into play. There's already a pretty healthy mod market out there, maybe our needs are so niche that we need to build our setups out ourselves? These older Thinkpads are modular enough that it's certainly possible. The nerd in me is excited about the possibilities. The pragmatist is a wee bit terrified. :)


I have the x61s. Up until about 3 years ago I still used it quite a bit. It was always my travel companion too. Mostly I just don't use computers at home much, otherwise I'd probably have used it more.

It's a bit fragile now, dropping it a few times over 7 years can do that. The dual core core 2 duo and 4GB of RAM, and 9 Cell (160GB 7200RPM drive) battery meant that it was good enough for just most things for a very long time.

Of the computers I've had, it rivals the 2015 MBP Retina with being a favorite of all time. I'd possibly give it a slight edge over the MBP due to size and keyboard.

It was also nicer than the later X2xx series, IMO, which is why I went with macbooks later.


Still running a Thinkpad x230t here. Outside the screen resolution while not docked, it has been great! It even survived a hard tumble down a flight of stairs 3 yrs ago; the only damage was a small gap along the seam of the external battery.


My dad is a moderate laptop user, but gets easily frustrated with poor performance, sometimes he uses PCB applications for hobby projects.After his last laptop died, we evaluated new vs. used laptops and we found a nicely taken care of T440 with a 3rd gen i5. I've had some additional RAM laying around and a new SSD (totaling 8/128) and the thing flies, he is very satisfied. For the money I don't thing we could have bought a machine with comparable performance from the store. Even the battery holds about an 60-90 minutes which is ok for him. He needs it portable, but not autonomous.


> 60-90 minutes

That's really, really low for a *40. Unless you mean like 90 minutes of full CPU usage.


Quite true, but considering the age (I'm not sure whether the battery is original or not), it does the job. The laptop was used, it's not new.


Getting around 7h to 8h off my X220 with a 'no-name' battery (the larger kind that sticks out at the back). Fine for the last couple of years.


4th gen i5


My first development laptop was an 1984 IBM model. It's screen was black-n-white only, and it weighed like a bag of bricks. However, I wrote an amazing amount of Borland C++ on the road with that beast. (rest-in-peace)


My 8 year old Samsung Series 9 Ultraportable. I still far prefer it to my much newer ASUS. Best laptop I've ever owned. (essentially a macbook pro spec machine... and beautifully designed)

It'd be my regular travel lappy if I could bother getting a new battery for it. Still great to code on, and the screen is far far better than the ASUS. Lighter too. (although no discrete graphics)

But battery life is a killer. ASUS lasts up to ten hours, and the Samsung barely does 2 hours now. With a power point, that's not an issue, but it's nice to have something with a bit more go.


I have a laptop which is 6 years old (not a thinkpad) which I was on the verge of tossing because I needed a new keyboard for it. Except for the broken keyboard, it's still a great machine, but the unavailability of parts was a problem.

Luckily I was able to find one and had it shipped from China. 10 minutes later it's as good as new. I found others on ebay, but they weren't actually available any more.

I had a similar experience recently for a cellphone, but instead of hardware it was software. I can't get security updates for it anymore. Except for that, it's still a great phone.


I've been using a mid-2010 Mac book Pro as my main laptop. Since 2010, the changes I've made are to bump up the RAM from 4GB to 8GB (its max), and replace the power brick. The battery now only lasts for about half an hour, so that needs replacement as well. There are also some big bad black dead spots on the display.

In terms of speed and performance, I can't complain too much, at least for my use.

I think we've hit a point where peripherals and batteries wear out sooner than the performance slowdown hits us.


Maybe the failure of moore's law will finally make manufacturers diversify in form and features. It'd be nice to be able to buy a laptop with a 4:3 screen and a clitmouse.


And here I am using a HP elitebook 8440w from 2010-2011 as my main computer here .__. Though laggy sometimes, I use it daily with an avd + vscode without many issues.


Gotta love my 2.5kg W520. Once I get the spare dosh to replace the ram and maybe HD, it'll be good for another 4 years, and I got it secondhand in pristine condition. My old X60, which was second hand, got used 3-4 years, and got resold, yet again! These machines aren't beasts, they're leviathans before which apples cower to their core, shedding their to-some-shiny, -seductive red skin.


I'm simply not interested in where laptops are going. I'm a healthy adult male, so a few hundred grams of weight is not an issue. I also find thin laptops very uncomfortable to use in certain positions where you balance it against your body.

I really should buy a 'clunky', 'heavy' laptop before they all disappear and all that's left are wafer thin machines with soldered-on everything.


I use a 2012 Dell XPS 15 daily. I got it as a warranty replacement when my XPS 14 broke. I've given it an SSD and swapped a new battery once. Otherwise it does everything I ask of it except having more than 2 hours of battery life. I've wanted to buy something lighter (the XPS is 5+ pounds) for years but I can't justify it when the 7 year old laptop still works fine.


Huge fan of Geoff's post. His X62 post is what inspired to build my own. Though we should probably put a 2017 year stamp on the title.


I have my parents (in their early 70's) using a 2008 MBP 15". Mostly for importing and organizing photos, email, and a bit of web stuff. They upgraded it to El Capitan - the latest MacOS it would take - without any difficulties. They'll likely use it for another couple of years until I donate my 2015 13" MBP to them.


My 5 year old MBP is still awesome .... So much so that I feel bad I bought the latest MBP. It's not "much" better.

I often recommend people buy a ten year old full-frame dSLR. Quality photos are more dependant on the photographer and maybe the glass... Megapixels aren't that important with a full frame sensor made in the last 15 years...


A $300 Canon 5D with a fast lens like a 28/1.8 or 35/2, in good light, outperforms most of what you can get today in any similar price range.


The 5D uses an old battery format that is increasingly difficult to source. It also is becoming difficult to service. So that $300 bargain might have to be disposable.

I usually recommend the previous generation old for DSLR. At phase-out Canon manufactures enough spares for an anticpiated five to seven years of servicing.


That's only true for RAW files... the signal processors behaviour made huge steps forward in the recent 10 years in many conditions <- this is what you pay for in new DSLRs beside megapixels.

I would better recommend a good second/third generation Nikon APS-C (which is not that old) and save also money on good/cheaper APS-C lenses this way.


You also get better low light performance, more dynamic range, and video capabilities.


You can have more dynamic range with a Nikon APS-C than with a fullframe Canon. That's not dependent on the optics its a technical thing on the sensor.


I used an old SGI Fuel (700Mhz, 2GB Ram) as my daily driver @ work until 2013. I would rdesktop to use heavy websites, but other than that it rocked.

Stopped using it because I graduated and I didn’t want to pay the electricity bill or keep a jet engine running at night (light sleeper)

If anyone here had successfully converted an SGI to a fanless SSD unit, let me know!


You might check on https://forums.irix.cc/ .

I have an Origin 300 rackmount with upgraded Noctua fans, and it's quiet enough to not be a bother.


Thnx. Now that Nekochan is dead I’m really lost in the Irix world.

Btw, do you know if there’s a way to make the boot drive a network drive (not the install drive)? I thought I remembered the post-doc in the lab keeping a half dozen O2s alive w/out replacement drives. But I might be wrong


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