A Vaio’s vices overcome

My good friend and Felton Linux User Group co-founder Bob Lewis called: Do you have a home for this old Sony Vaio laptop? If not, I’ll just take it over to Grey Bears (note: Grey Bears is a organization based in Santa Cruz, California, that helps the elderly and which, among other things, recycles computers and has a pretty good selection of old hardware in their store).

Nope, bring it over, I said.

In retrospect, I should have passed.

The Sony Vaio PCG-K15, circa 2004, is a behemoth of a laptop, a bulky piece of hardware weighing in at just under a ton — OK, give or take 1,992.5 pounds, you get the 7.5 pounds it’s supposed to weigh (though, to be honest, it feels heavier). The Pentium 4 2.80 GHz processor coupled with 1 GB of RAM should be enough to run just about anything.

Should be enough.

I don’t know how this machine fared in reviews a decade ago, but today this hardware is the digital equivalent of the Deathmobile in “Animal House.” The urge to paint it black and write “Eat Me” in big red letters was almost overwhelming.

Installed Fedora 20 Desktop (that’s GNOME, for those of you keeping score at home). Nope.

Installed Ubuntu 14.04 Unity. Nope.

Installed OpenSUSE 13.1. Nope.

Installed Debian Wheezy. Worked, sort of, with a lot of hand-holding and tweaking.

Out of all the distros I tried, these three were the ones that worked the best:

Korora 20 Xfce: While there was a lot of hand-holding here, too, once I got Korora where I wanted it on this hardware, it worked well.

CrunchBang 11 Waldorf: This Debian-with-Openbox distro worked well with little effort on this machine.

AntiX Mepis Luddite: This one, Debian Testing with Fluxbox, also worked well after getting used to some of the quirks like wicd as a network manager.

So this 10-year-old laptop now is again a fully functioning member of digital society thanks to Korora, CrunchBang and AntiX.

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Larry the Korora Guy and all other blogs by Larry Cafiero are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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