The Laptop Renovation Project: Decisions, Conclusions and Lessons Learned

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I posted about my efforts to revive aging laptop hardware. While there is still a bit of work to be done, the bulk of the project is complete, and the rest is simply detail work and optimization for our particular work environment.

Fortunately, from the end-user side the requirements are fairly straight-forward. The one proprietary application we require is java-based and while it’s a memory hog, I have not encountered any compatibility issues. Additionally, we require a web browser (ideally Firefox, another memory hog) and OpenOffice.org. The biggest challenge was finding an environment which required minimal training.

Distro Decisions

I received a lot of feedback regarding good, thin distros that would serve my purposes well. I gave several of them a try, and many of the others I researched on Distro Watch. There were numerous viable options there. From a performance perspective, I was very impressed with Damn Small Linux (a.k.a. “DSL”), but the wireless card driver situation was not good: they didn’t support the card natively, recommending NDISwrapper as the best solution. Ugh.

rest here