[MX372] is a pretty dedicated hardware hacker. Instead of chucking a 10 year old laptop with specs weaker than his latest cellphone — he decided to breath new life into it with a few hardware upgrades, and a switch to Linux of course.
Featuring a 1.1GHz Pentium M processor with a whopping 512mb DDR RAM, a dvd burner, a 40GB HDD, USB 2.0, BlueTooth, 802.11b/g wireless and even a FireWire port, his old Sony Vaio used to command a pretty hefty price tag. In fact, he’s pretty sure he paid $2,100 for it back in ’05. It was called an “ultrabook” before ultrabook actually meant a MacBook-Air sized laptop.
Still running Windows XP, it had gotten slower with age as all good computers do, and since XP is no longer supported, [MX372] thought it was time to switch it over to Linux. He started with Xubuntu 12, but quickly found Lubuntu instead. But, it still wasn’t that great.
This lead him to the idea of upgrading the hardware. It featured a 1.8″ 4200rpm HDD with 40GB of storage, and he could have bought an SSD to replace it… but he didn’t want to sink any money into this ancient laptop. So he looked around his parts bin and found a CF card and some USB drives — let the soldering begin.
He’s removed one of the USB ports to add an internal USB hub in order to connect the USB drive and memory card reader inside the laptop as his new data drives — all it took was a bit of nerve-wracking soldering. He then popped out the HDD in favor of a SATA to CF adapter with an 8GB CF card — which he spent a whopping $11 — the only part he had to buy.
Once everything was buttoned up, it worked exactly how he envisioned it. And quite a bit faster to boot. You can read more about it in part 2 and part 3 of his blog posts. What’s next? An external graphics card?? Oh, that’s been done already…