My (not so) new toys…

I’ve got a problem that I really like buying computers, and while I don’t always have an exact use for them when I buy them I normally find something for them to do.

A few weeks back (about 2) I went round to a company called Bridgeport Technical Services. These guys sell refurbished computers. The nice thing is the machines are rather cheap and they don’t come with any Operating System so they perfect for installing Linux on to.

So I bought two machines, although I really wanted to buy alot more.

Compaq Deskpro SFF (Small Form Factor)Compaq Deskpro SFF (Small Form Factor)
Intel Pentium II 400mhz
128mb RAM
24x Slimline CD-ROM
Onboard Graphics (ATI Mach64 based), 10/100 Network, Sound

Cost about R 400.00

So what am I going to use a rather old computer for? Well it’s small and I like small computers, and it’s rather quiet (except the cd-rom) so my plan is to turn it into a kind of router/network server. I’m going to put Ubuntu server on it and configure DNS, DHCP, OpenVPN and a bunch of other stuff on it. I also thinking of putting it between my little home network and my ADSL/wifi router so that it can keep an eye on everything thats going through the network and possible do a little bit of speeding up of my connection by caching a few things. I also want to setup a VPN into my home network (using OpenVPN) and don’t want my primary home machine to be the “main” machine everything connects to. The other reason is that by offloading everything to this little machine I’m then free to re-install/reboot and generally mess with the rest of my machines as much as I like.

The second machine is a

Dell Latitude L400 Notebook.Dell Latitude L400 Notebook.
Intel Pentium III 700mhz
256mb RAM
20gb HDD
12.1″ LCD Display (1024×768)
Onboard Graphics (ATI Mach64 based), 10/100 Network, Sound
Also came with a Docking station, external 24x CD-Rom and Stiffy Drive.

Cost about R 1800.00

This machine was so cheap because it was damaged, the guys from the place I bought it were quiet open about it’s problems and made sure I knew about them before I bought it.. which was nice. It’s two biggest problems are broken hinges (a common problem on notebooks) and battery that lasts about 5min (also common). I bought a new battery for it from Akita Business Solutions (can really recommend them, they were awesome to deal with) and now get about 4hours out of the new battery. I’ve also made my first partially succesfull attempt at fixing the hinges (more on that in another post.)

This machine I’ve already installed Xubuntu on and been playing around on it alot, the reason for buying it is that I want a laptop I could dedicate to running linux on and another machine I could fool around with some of the new distro’s out there. Performance hasn’t been to bad considering I’m used to machines with 512mb of ram and 2ghz (or higher) CPU’s. Only thing I wish this machine had is wireless and USB 2.0. I’m probably going to add wireless if I can find a PCMCIA or USB adapter thats supported by linux well and that isn’t to expensive (Bellow about R300.00)

Both these machines while being a little old are capable of running new modern Linux distributions very well and make very affordable machines for general email, web browsing and typing the odd letter.