About a month ago my brother in-law came to me with his wife's "dead" Windows XP computer. The computer would not boot at all. After a successful POST, the system would just sit there, unable to find any bootable media. I was asked if I could recover their files for them. Outside of that, they didn't want to put any money into the computer. They were thinking about getting a Mac.
I told them that as long as there wasn't a serious hard drive failure, I could probably get all of their files. I figured I could boot the system to a Live CD and backup the files to my USB hard drive. Read more
The Dell Inspiron 2600 is a pretty old laptop, but can still be a useful computer if there's a decent OS installed. I had been running Ubuntu on this machine, but I started getting random freezes starting with Ubuntu Hardy. As a result, I was running Hardy with an older kernel from Gutsy. There were also difficulties with getting the video settings properly configured. I decided it was time to go in search of a new distro to run on this old laptop. Read more
The web is rife with articles and blog posts citing statistics of Windows vs. Linux on netbooks. Nearly all of these articles mention the stats of the pre-installed OS from online and brick and mortar stores. A quick search of NewEgg.com yielded one netbook with Linux pre-installed and 63 running Windows XP. There were also another 15 running various versions of Vista. So it seems that those that desire to purchase a netbook running Linux have little choice from retailers. Read more
Being the computer geek in the family means I am frequently called upon for computer emergencies. The most recent one involves a Dell computer that bit the dust. The machine wouldn't POST and gave only a memory error beep code. After several rounds of moving the memory chips to different slots and then trying new memory, I finally gave up and decided it's time to start fresh. I figured it was most likely an issue with the motherboard.
Now the folks at Dell are kind enough to use a bunch of non-standard hardware. This means that whenever you want to replace something, you pretty much have to go to Dell or to Ebay. Their power supply connector is a standard ATX connector, but they wire it differently. Therefore, you need a Dell specific power supply as a replacement. Read more
Update Nov. 9, 2008 - While trying to get Ubuntu 8.10 working on my 2600, I remembered one key detail to getting 8.04 to work. I've only gotten it to work with BIOS revision A08. Here's a link to the Inspiron 2600 BIOS A08 on the Dell website. Unfortunately, this is a Windows executable to make a bootable floppy, so obviously you'll need access to a Windows machine to make the BIOS boot disk. Read more