Back from the dead

Screenshot of Ubuntu 8.04.

Image via Wikipedia

Spent much of the weekend and a fair bit of Monday, a couple of weeks ago trying to persuade a laptop to work…

A practically venerable Evo laptop suddenly decided that it didn’t like Youtube and refused to play anything declaring each time that the flash player had crashed and I need to refresh the browser, a phrase in IT terms akin to “turn it off and turn it on again and see if that help?” I didn’t!

To be fair it’s a very old machine, AMD Athlon XP 2000+ 512 RAM shared with graphic and 40gb storage. Pretty ancient – the theme set should probably be velociraptors!

Youtube is not a site I spend a lot of time at; watching teenagers attempting to castrate themselves on a skateboard or dancing Meercats not really having much appeal, but at the time I had been clutching my notepad and rewinding frequently in an attempt to understand another aspect of this IT Kabala they call Joomla 1.6 so the timing was not good.

I started to investigate. After a bit of experimenting I found that non-Youtube sites were fine. All very puzzling! Reinstalling flash did nothing and trying various Firefox plugins and handlers just seemed to make the problem worse.

I decided to reinstall….nope. Ubuntu 10.4 would not even let me have a decent Gnome desktop! Probably a badly burnt disk, but I didn’t have the time to burn another one and suspected that it was actually more of a hardware issue with the latest version of even Ubuntu demanding more than an old machine could handle. This needed a rethink.

Tucked away in my collection of distros was my Ubuntu 8.04 LTS custom CD. A partial roll-your-own of Ubuntu 8.04 with lots of added goodies that I had put together using Remastersys. I had some doubts fearing RAM or power supplies issues which would have been way too expensive to deal with in a machine of this age. However I crossed my fingers (realised that this would make inserting the CD difficult) uncrossed them and tried. Synaptic had demanded 840 odd updates which came as no great surprise but in the end I had a working laptop which was more than 8 years old and had seen heavy use. Youtube worked fine, DVD played and MP3 did their thing from the admittedly tinny speakers.

I never did find out what the problem was? My guess is an update for Linux Mint the previous distro had conflicted with my hardware, some modern driver that definitely didn’t want to play nice with my ancient rig. But its comforting to know that Linux gives you options and if all else had failed I am sure one of the lightweight distros like Puppy, DSL or Feather would have loaded.

Aw well now back to what I was doing when this problem started on Saturday….ho hum!

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