[Tfug] Shameless Parts: a fairly cool, upgraded lappy ($300)

Jim March 1.jim.march at gmail.com
Thu Jun 12 22:22:43 MST 2008

Well, by surprise I scored a new lappy for very cheap (subsidized - long
story).  New rig is a subject for a new post, meanwhile I'm selling off my
die-hard Acer that I had otherwise planned to keep...which is why it has a
brand new 160gig hard disk bolted in last week, and a gig's worth of memory
upgrade shortly after purchase...

For sale:

Acer 3680, 14.1" 1280x800 screen, Intel Celeron single-core 1.6gHz but with
a fast memory bus (533mHz).  Intel 945 video, zero dead pixels.  Sound is
Intel-based, works in every distro I threw at it.

Optical drive is CD read/write, DVD read.

Has a Vista Home Basic license sticker underneath but that was nuked off the
disk LONG ago :).

She's a year old, carried and used heavy but in perfect shape, no case
cracks or stripped/missing screws, nothing broken physically or
electrically.  There's minor scratches here and there.  The keyboard works,
but...well, a lot of keys are shiny smooth from use :).  A replacement can
be had for $40 and is easy to swap in:


Ports: built in it has 3 USBs, VGA video, SVGA, PCMCIA with cardbus support,
working (in Ubuntu at least) SD memory card slot.  I'm also throwing in a
PCMCIA card with two more USB2.0 ports plus both desktop and laptop size
FireWire 400 ports.

Built-in "mouse" is synaptics touch-pad that I seldom used as I prefer a
trackball.  It works and supports the scroll "mini joystick" in the right
directions (some seem to get reversed).


* Started life with 512megs, now has 1.5gig.

* Brand new 160gig hard disk less than two weeks old, with Fry's reciept:
Samsung 1st gen hybrid 5400  SATA drive, has the usual 8meg cache plus a
256meg flash cache.  (Original drive was 80gig, 4200rpm.)

* Atheros internal mini-PCI WiFi card swapped for Intel 2200 series - the
latter has better true-open-source driver support and almost double the
range.  Card plugged right in to the built-in Acer lid antennas.

Full disclosure: yes, the Atheros card was hors-de-combat to a TFUG meet
coke spill by a person I won't embarass further :).  I turned it off, let it
dry, took it home, stripped and cleaned everything.  Only damage was to the
Atheros card.

Runs very cool even on your lap, no need for a "fan plate".

Software: right now I'm running Ubuntu Hardy with the latest Ubuntu updates
to kernel 2.6.24-18.  Runs flawlessly.  I will also load if you'd like
VirtualBox and my Windows XP image (at least quasi-legal given the Vista
license, remember?), and all possible multimedia updates.  You can see it
all work which is nice even if you load another distro, BSD, whatever.

Video supports Compiz Fusion with zero problems, although if you use "the
cube" it works better with two-panes (flat plate, desktop on each side)
versus 4+ desktops (true cube).  I'll show you how to set that up.

Upshot: my new rig is a low-end Intel dual-core with Intel965 graphics and
it's just not that much faster even with virtual machines and the VTx
hardware virtualization extensions in the dual-core turned on.

I'm in town and will be happy to help you check it out with my distro and
then assist tuning for yours.

Jim - 916-370-03470

(Legalities note: this was one of the first low-end Vista machines that
truthfully, should never have been sold with Vista as performance was a
dog.  A friend brought a similar machine around the same time, with 1gig
RAM.  With this rig now for sale set up with 1gig RAM, Ubuntu Feisty and
VirtualBox/XP, I was able to run Windows apps including MS-Access faster
than his box could run Vista native.  Upshot: given the litigation going on
that this should never have been declared "Vista compatible", there ain't no
way M$ could get pissy about XP being present even though it's clearly a
"Pirate Bay Special Edition" :).)
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