Bob's previous home machines

November 28, 2017 in #Sony #toshiba #nostalgia #windows #vista #xp #apple #mac #mac mini #macbook

Much like the article on my current machines, this page will help people better assess my own bias in articles from over the years.

I have had more PCs than those listed on this page. However the chances of me remembering the full specs of all the skip rescues and family desktops I used as a teenager are exactly nil! :)

Past laptops

As I was a student (and moved around a lot as a result) my laptop was my primary workhorse for everything. I don't own any of those listed anymore, but I guess it's a testament to how important these machines were to me that I still remember their obscure model numbers!

For the laptop I used 2014-2016 see the Macbook Air entry in "A brief history of Macs". I haven't included the Netbook fad that struck the industry around 2008-2011, but for those interested I went through an Asus Eee PC 900 and two Acer Aspire One ZG5s.

Description Original Operating System Usual dual-booted Operating Systems Hardware Specs Tenure
13" Apple Macbook Air (mid-2013) Mac OS X 10.9 "Mavericks" Ubuntu GNU/Linux (virtualized), Mac OS X 10.9 to 10.11 "El Capitan" 1.7GHz dual core Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 256GB flash storage 2014-2016
15.5" jet black custom-built Sony VAIO VPC-EB1C5E Windows 7 Home Premium Ubuntu GNU/Linux, Windows 7 Professional 2.53GHz dual core Intel Core i5-540M, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD, BD-RW drive 2010-2013
16.4" Sony VAIO VGN-FW21L Windows Vista Home Premium Ubuntu or Fedora GNU/Linux, Windows Vista Home Premium 2GHz dual core Intel Core 2 Duo T5800, 3GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Blu-ray drive 2008-2010
15.4" Toshiba Satellite L20 Windows Vista Home Basic Ubuntu GNU/Linux, Windows XP Professional 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M 730, 2GB RAM, 80GB HDD, DVD-RW drive 2007-2008
I decided to "kill two birds with one stone" with the Macbook Air when the laptop that had served me well through university was finally on its last legs and my Mac Mini had started to struggle with running modern Mac apps. I usually toggled between the native OS and booting Ubuntu GNU/Linux in a full-screen VM.

Overall I liked the machine, but it was even more restrictive than I anticipated. The positive things it impressed on me though was I could function at home without any Windows installs on my network and that being restricted like this is a very, very bad thing. It continues to inform my technology choices to this day.

You can see this article for some triple-boot action with Windows 7 beta on the 16.4" Sony VAIO in this table.

Finally, the eldest Toshiba originally started out with 512MB RAM, which rendered Vista practically unusable. I ranted about it in several different places and suspect it was a big motivator for me to finally start dual-booting GNU/Linux. The rest, of course, is history.

Previous desktops

Description Original Operating System Usual Operating System Hardware Specs Tenure
Dell Optiplex 945 Windows XP Trisquel GNU/Linux 7 2.13GHz dual core Intel Core 2 Duo E6400, 8GB RAM, 160GB HDD, DVD-RW drive, 3.5" floppy drive 2017-2018
Mac Mini (mid-2010) Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" Mac OS X 10.6 to 10.10 "Yosemite" 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD 2011-2015

I originally picked up the Dell Optiplex 945 from a third party recycler in the summer of 2017, with the initial intent of setting it up as a retro gaming machine. However, when I realised I could upgrade the RAM from 2GB to 8GB I set it up as a Trisquel workstation and used it to write blog posts and create the pilot episode for the BTS Podcast.

Unfortunately towards the end of January 2018 the PSU died in the machine. I also discovered when I tried to replace it that the recycler had made some very bad decisions when they reconditioned the machine, and this rendered it completely impractical to repair. Thankfully I was able to recover all my files and salvage the hard drive, processor, RAM and screws as spare parts for future projects. I'm consoled by the fact that despite this setback I still got 7 months use out of a £70 desktop, which is definitely not bad!

As for the Mac Mini, I bought this while I was at university with the intention of learning how to develop mobile applications, but within just a few months of buying it XCode wouldn't run on the box anymore because Apple force-depracated it. As a result it partially helped me learn how to use Macs, but actually spent most of its time being my "distraction-free writing" box and a network media server.

I still feel kind of sad about I got rid of it because it was a good little machine. However the Mini was starting to struggle with running modern versions of OSX, I couldn't get GNU/Linux to run well on it as a native OS and I hadn't yet developed the habit of repurposing old kit. I hope it found a good owner!

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