An oldie but a Goodie

By | 19/09/2021

Technology never lasts in this day and age, youngster want the latest whizzie phone because they can’t be seen with last year model. They have to have the fastest processor, newest graphic card, latest OS and when something newer comes out they want that the previous machine is rubbish.

Many of you have probably seen the computer shops in the towns selling 2nd user stock, normally this is the equipment businesses have traded in for new equipment or they were the returns at the end of a lease. If you know what you are looking at you can pickup a good deal but with new laptop available for around £250, for those that don’t know a new low spec laptop £250 will beat a moderately specced 2nd hand laptop for £150.

Back in 2006 I purchased an IBM R51 laptop for work, Pentium M 1600mhz, 1gb memory, onboard ATI Graphics, 60gb hard disk. It served me well for 4 years and went to a new home for another three years. At the end of its life it came back to me. It was one of three IBM I bought at the time (the other two being slightly lower spec R50’s which surprisingly expired by the time the R51 had returned to me around 2013. It did see the light of day when I used it as a test bed for Igel terminal software, the idea being you were able to turn obsolete equipment into dumb terminals. It worked but the pricing was about £20 cheaper than a new Igel terminal with a three year warranty.

IBM R51

About 6 months ago I came across the laptop and had to make a decision on what to do with it, I had lost the power supply, it only had 1GB of memory, I decided to order a new power supply cost was £22 from a company called AJP. The power supply duly arrived, I plugged it in turned the laptop on and it burst into life, I ran a couple of linux boot disks I had lying around which seem to show everything was working, so I decided to order a new battery, the old one was barely lasting 20 minutes, another £20 spent. I also had a look on ebay for a 1gb memory module which cost me including postage a whole £5. All the bits arrived and were fitted to the Laptop, all for less than £50.

The original OS was Windows XP, so I had to look at a replacement OS, Windows 10 was out the question, in fact any windows OS was out the question, simply the processor and memory would not permit any power and resource hungry operating system. In the end I choose Debian Bulleyes (Debian names all their release’s after the names of the toys in Toy Story). Debian in not a power or resource hungry operating system, it will happily run on a low spec hardware as well as it would with multicore processor, multi core gpu graphics cards and the amount of memory that would amount to boredom if you had to fill all the slots.

Yes its slow to boot up, yes it is slow to open some programs, it has working wireless and ethernet connections, it can access my network storage device, some flashy web pages can be slow to load, but I am told that if you drop down to the command line (think command prompt or Dos box on windows), but I am no command line wizzard, for a laptop that is around 15 years old it runs and runs well. It is an IBM (its replacement was one of the first to be badged Lenovo which were still IBM design just a different name badge, and that laptop is still running and is what I am writing this on). The R51 is not a classic IBM like the Thinkpad 701 with the keyboard that expand as you opened the lid, but it is a solid IBM built, slightly heavy laptop, the saying used to be “Nobody Gets Fired For Buying IBM” unfortunately the Lenovo’s did not live upto the IBM reputation.

Foot Note: 14 months ago I was given a brand new HP i7 laptop, it went back a couple of weeks ago, the keyboard failed, it was flimsy to say the least

If anything on this page has interested you or you would like to know more, email blog at windriders dot co dot uk (take the spaces out and replace the dot with a . )