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Upgrades in the works

HP-8300-usdtI recently acquired a slightly used HP Elite 8300 Ultra-Slim Desktop with an i5-3470S processor. I put a 750GB 7400RPM SATA drive into it and I’m waiting on 16GB of memory for it. My plan for it is to replace my Dell Optiplex 780 as my Windows PC. It will still be an outdated machine but for my purposes, it will do quite nicely. I haven’t yet decided the fate of the 780. I guess I’ll keep it for a while.

I’ve been on the lookout for a newer laptop to replace my Dell Latitude E6500 but I haven’t found anything at a price that appeals to me. I’ve wanted to upgrade it for a while but the DDR2 RAM for it is quite expensive. But very recently I found 8GB of PC2-6400 memory for about $120 Data Memory Systems which is the best price I’ve seen in years. Crucial wants $239 for 8GB. I’ve also ordered a new battery for it.

dell_e6500The plan for the E6500 is to increase the memory from 4GB to 8GB and replace the 160GB hard drive with a 320GB drive then install Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia. I’m currently running Linux Mint 17.3 Rosa on it and I feel it’s about time I brought the OS up to the same level as my other Linux machines. After the upgrades it should serve me well for at least a couple more years.


Penultimate Day – 2017

This past year was full of changes.

In January I dropped AT&T U-verse as my Internet provider and went back to cable. Because my wife wanted to keep our landline number, I had to go with my new provider’s gateway device and router. I wasn’t able to configure the house telephone wiring to accommodate the change so were using cordless phones which is working out alright. I had already gotten an Obihai device and set up a Google Voice number. I still have it connected but it doesn’t get much use.

In April, I reevaluated my need for a hosting provider. I’d been having some issues with my POP3 email accounts, particularly when using them with Thunderbird. I’d also had a few DNS issues when they retired some of their DNS servers which causes me some problems connecting with my blogs and web pages. Other than a few WordPress blogs on the site, the only really active Web pages were my genealogy pages.

I had been tossing the idea of dropping the host for a couple of months but when the bill for another year’s service showed up in my bank account at a time when I could not afford it, I decided to end it. I backed up everything down to my PC, updated email addresses, moved the blogs to my WordPress.com account, and ended my relationship with them. and let the domain names expire.

The other big change was upgrading my main PC. My HP 6005 had always been a little temperamental with Linux Mint but by November it began getting a lot more temperamental. I found a good deal at Micro-Center in Cincinnati on a refurbished Lenovo M91p. It was advertised with an i7 processor, 8 GB of memory, a 500 GB hard drive, and Windows 10.

After I got it home, I found that it had a 2 TB drive so I decided to keep the Windows 10 and dual boot it with Mint 18.1. (I still haven’t booted to the Windows partition and activated it. Since I’d previously set up an M91p for my wife with 24 GB of memory, I swapped some memory around to bring hers down to 16 GB and mine up to 16 GB. Once I was finished with the HP, I added its 16 GB to the M91. It’s been working well. I’m quite happy with it.

Throughout the year I’ve continued to improve my BASH scripting skills, developing a few new scripts and making some older scripts more robust. Most of my scripts are for routine tasks. I continued to tweak my conky script.

Recently I found HomeBank to manage and keep track of my financial accounts. It’s capable of downloading QIF files from financial institutions but I haven’t tried it yet. Quicken (on my Windows PC) has been prompting me to upgrade for a while now but once it’s no longer capable of downloading my transactions, I may not up upgrade and just use HomeBank exclusively, keeping my current version of Quicken to access past transactions. When that occurs, I’ll probably move my spreadsheets from the Windows PC to my Linux PC.

Tech goals for 2018? I plan to continue to reduce my dependence on Windows although, realistically, I’ll probably still need it for some tasks. I’ll probably look into running it on a VM but there are some things about VM I still need to figure out. I’ll continue to improve my scripting skills.

Time for an Upgrade

Linux Mint has always been a little temperamental on my HP 6005. It may been that some minor compatibility issues between the OS and the AMD architecture, I don’t know. But over the last few days, it had gotten flakier, locking up more often, and I’d see one or two of my CPU cores hitting 100 percent quite regularly. It was getting very frustrating to say the least and I’d already been flirting with the idea of upgrading my system.

Len-M91pI found a good deal at Micro Center for a refurbished Lenovo M91p with a 3.4GHz i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive with Windows 10 pre-installed. I reserved one the other day and today I drove down and picked it up.

I’d begun a back up of the HP this morning and it was still going when I returned so started getting the new PC set up. My wife’s PC is the same model and I’d already installed 24GB of RAM in it so I took her 8GB modules and put in the 4GB modules from the new computer taking her down to 16GB and raising mine to 16GB.

My original intention had been to wipe the drive clean and install Mint 18.1 Serena but while getting the system data I knew I’d need later, I discovered that I had a 2TB drive in it. With that knowledge, I figured that I had enough room for a dual boot system. I gave 1.5 terabytes to Linux and left the rest for Windows.

I installed Mint as well as some my must have applications and utilities. There are still a few that still need to be installed and the usual tweaking. I don’t know how much use I’ll get out of the Windows 10 partition since I’ve never really liked it much. But maybe I can learn to live with it and eventually eliminate having a separate Windows PC.

After my backup was completed, I decided to go ahead and take the 8GB modules out of the HP and put them into the Lenovo, bringing it to 32GB . Lenovo’s documentation says it will only support 16GB but I’d been running 24GB in my wife’s system for over a year without any problems.

A more powerful laptop would be nice but my Dell Latitude (with its Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and 160GB drive) still works well for what I do with it — a little web surfing, email, and some writing.


Upgrade gone wrong

I went to update my Dell Optiplex 780 USFF from Mint 17.3 to 18.1. It didn’t really need it but I figured it would be an easy upgrade. I should have known better. I know from years of experience that there are no easy upgrades.

When I tried to boot from my Mint 18.1 Serena Xfce flash drive, I got a kernel panic error on every USB port. Then I attempted to boot to a DVD with Serena with Cinnamon, I got a message saying the device was unavailable. I ran the internal diagnostics which gave me an error code: 2000-0152,”Optical Drive (d): – Incorrect status: (x) (s)”. I was unable to find any of my Dell diagnostic CDs. I pulled the drives out of the other USFF I had lying around, put it in and got the same results. Then the power supply died. I took that as a sign that this upgrade was not to be.

I already had a Dell Latitude E5500 on which I’d already installed Mint 18.1 Xfce so I used it to replace the USFF box. I put it on a docking station, connected it up, and got it running. I’d already installed conky so I just added my Dropbox to it. The primary purpose of the machine will be to have something connected directly to the gateway router for troubleshooting connectivity problems or when I need quick access to a computer at that end of the house. This older laptop will work just fine for that.

I’m still thinking about upgrading my E6500. Hopefully, that will go better. I’m planning to install a larger hard drive so I’ll still have the old drive just in case.

As for the 780s, I’ll donate them, along with a couple of laptops I don’t need any more.

Downgrade Update

The memory I ordered to upgrade the Dell SFF so I could replace the Dell USFF arrived yesterday. It turned out that the Dell doesn’t support 8GB modules. I was about to see about returning them in exchange for four 4GB modules when it occurred to me that they might work in the Lenovo M91p. I tried it and it worked great.

I tried the memory I took out of the Lenovo in the Dell and found that two of the 4GB modules wouldn’t work. Later research indicated that the Dell wouldn’t support the latency of those modules. To the two modules that did work, I added two of the original 2GB modules, bringing it up to 12GB. That will be adequate for my needs in Windows. I’ve been running Windows 10 on the Dell USFF with only 4GB for a while.

In my research, I found some information indicating that although Lenovo says that the M91p supports 16GB of RAM, it will actually support 32GB. This weekend I plan to put those 4GB modules back into the other bank and see if it works. If it does, then she’ll have 24GB to work with.

This weekend I’ll work on installing the remaining applications and transferring my data to get the Dell up and running.

This morning, I put two 2GB modules into an extra USFF 780. When I finish this downgrade project, I’ll have three Ultra-Small Form Factor Dell 780s to be used for whatever. I’m sure I can find a use for them as Linux-based appliances or something.

Laptop upgrades

My Latitude E5500 with Mint 15 is just a bit out of date and has been running a little sluggish lately. Rather than updated it to a newer version of Mint, I moved up to a Latitude E6500 and Mint 17. I’d done a back up of the E5500 to an ext4 external drive so I was able to keep my files and most of my software settings which made reinstalling applicaions a lot easier.

I’ll have to play around with the web cam. It doesn’t seem to work with Cheese but I was able to view it with VLC. I’ll have to look at how to stream video with VLC or find another alternative. That was really the only problem I encountered.

While I was at it, I upgraded the Gateway E-475 to Mint 17 as well. I’d forgotten that I’d put 15 on it back in May to use it to play videos, mp3’s, and podcasts in the Yoga Room. That was really on the back burner.

I looked at updating Tina’s HP Netbook for use in the Yoga Room but I decided it wasn’t robust enough. I’m not sure what I’ll do with that. I don’t think there is much I can do with it.

Almost a smooth upgrade

Yesterday, I upgraded my wife’s computer to a newer, faster PC. The OS installation went well as did the installation of her programs and the transfer of her files. It’s working great except for one thing — Internet Explorer. For some reason it is ridiculously slow and it hangs up. At first I thought it might be because it was the default IE6 that comes with XP but even after upgrading to IE8 (which took a couple of hours), nothing has improved.

Both Firefox and Chrome work extremely well. I imported her IE favorites into Firefox and configured it so she can easily get to her email and Facebook account. I guess I’ll try to get her weaned from IE.

Once Microsoft stops supporting XP, I’ll probably continue to use it for a while but when it becomes unsupportable, all Windows PCs will upgrade to Linux. The only way I’ll be using a newer Microsoft operating system at home is if it comes loaded on a new computer.

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