Light Linux Desktop: Lubuntu On A Tired Old Laptop

I have this old Dell Inspiron 1000. It ran Ubuntu once upon a time, then Xubuntu. Now it's going to Lubuntu, and to my mom. Here's the story…

December 9, 2011

My first “Real” laptop.

I got this rig back in 2005 when it was fairly new. I was getting ready to make the leap to Linux. Because it was so new, I wasn’t initially searching for a light Linux desktop. 

Light Linux desktop on a Dell Inspiron 1000

So, my friend was in a pinch, I bought this laptop from her because she couldn’t afford the Dell payments, and figured out how to dual bot WIndows XP and Knoppix soon after I got it. This went to school with me too, to Linux classes I attended at a placed called Bridge Education. It was a dual-boot setup initially, only because there was NO WAY to get my damned wireless card working.

Turns out I was just being dumb. My next install on this rig was Fedora 2 or 3 (can’t remember which) and I was able at that time to use madwifi and get the wireless running. It involved some gyrations in the command line every time I needed to get on or switch wireless networks (until I wrote a script to do it for me) and wouldn’t work with encrypted networks. 

Discovering Ubuntu, and using GNOME 2

I found Ubuntu when Dapper was out. Sick of having to re-install Fedora every time I wanted the next version, AND download four CDs too, I switched. This laptop made it up to Hardy with me, but not with regular Ubuntu. I had to switch at one point because Ubuntu was getting too heavy. I threw Xubuntu on. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice much of a speed increase. Perhaps things are different now, but Xubuntu used to come with quite a chunk of GNOME, and I believe the consensus at the time was that it wasn’t much faster as an OS than the regular Ubuntu was.

So, I got an Acer Aspire 5517, and have had it now for a little over a year and a half; my wife got me a delayed Christmas present with our 2009 tax returns. This Dell retired, or so I thought. My wife got a new job and needed a Windows box. Since I still could read the sticker on the bottom of the laptop, I scrounged a Dell XP Home cd and reinstalled. That’s the way the thing sits at the moment. Tonight, I expect I’ll have Lubuntu running on it…

Resurrection with a light Linux desktop

You see, my mom has a wicked old Dell desktop, and wants to be a bit more mobile. This laptop won’t last more than five or ten minutes without being plugged in, but she can at least move from outlet to outlet, and isn’t confined to the computer desk. I’m sick of fixing Windows for ANYONE, so I’ve decided she’s getting Lubuntu on this puppy. I figure after a few minutes of training, she’ll be good to go.

Oddly enough, the wireless STILL doesn’t work out of the box. I had to connect with the ethernet card and go get Broadcom drivers… Some things never change, but it was nice this time, in a nostalgic sort of way.

EDIT: Sadly, as of 2017, this laptop is retired. I removed and disassembled the hard drive, and am using the magnets to hold things on the fridge. The remains of the laptop are in a landfill. It was very sad, and it took months for me to finally send it off.


What’s Your Rig?

I’m curious, what did YOU learn on? What was the first device you were sitting at, with trembling hands, sliding a Linux live disc into the drive tray?

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