Gray Matter


All the Laptop Computers I’ve Ever Owned

RT Cunningham | August 1, 2020 (UTC) | Computers

laptop computersAt one time, I never would have considered using laptop computers for anything. My first experience with one wasn’t very good. It was a 17-inch HP Pavilion laptop that I had to stop using, in 2007, after merely a year. The monitor became useless, with dozens of horizontal red lines on it.

I was in the Philippines and there wasn’t anywhere I could go to get it repaired. Not in Olongapo City, at least. Things have changed a lot since 2007, of course.

The next computer I bought was a desktop at the SM City Pampanga mall in 2007. When netbooks became a thing, I bought an MSI Wind U100-XP in 2008 or 2009. I wanted to use it as a backup computer during many of Olongapo’s many brownouts. I continued to use my desktop computer most of the time until I left for more than a year in 2013.

Laptop Computers Again

I didn’t bring anything electronic with me when I left the Philippines in 2013 and went to stay with my wife, Josie, and my younger son, Jon, in Phoenix, Arizona. I bought an inexpensive HP laptop to work with and then repaired an older Dell laptop my older son, Joe, had given me before he left with his wife, Diann, to live at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Jon used it for studying.

I acquired another HP laptop before returning to the Philippines in December 2014. The power supply on the desktop computer failed on me as soon as I booted it up (and the computer is now sitting in a storage room). It’s a good thing I had four working laptop computers (counting the netbook) at the time. I gave the Dell laptop to one of my nieces, and she’s still using it today (with Lubuntu on it), but it’s missing a bunch of keyboard keys.

In 2015, I had to replace the hard drive in one of the laptop computers, installing Linux Mint on it instead of Windows. By 2017, another laptop could only be used with an external monitor or TV. The familiar horizontal lines had appeared on it. When Josie and I left the Philippines again in 2018, we gave that one to one of our relatives, but I don’t remember which one.

My daughter-in-law, Cathy, used the netbook from early 2016 to when she left in 2018, a couple of months before Josie and I. I gave it to a different niece just before Josie and I left, and she’s still using it today, with Linux Mint Mate on it. When we traveled to Joe and Diann’s house in Florida, I brought the only decent laptop I had left with me. A couple of weeks later, I bought another HP laptop computer.

When Josie sent two balikbayan boxes from there to Olongapo in 2018, I put the older laptop in with everything else in one of them. It’s sitting in my bedroom over there now. Josie spent three weeks in Olongapo in 2019, shortly after we traveled from Florida to Hawaii, to stay with Jon and Cathy. She opened the boxes she sent. Today, I’m using the laptop computer I bought in 2018, somewhat improved.

My Improved Laptop Computer

I started dual booting it with Windows 10 and Linux Mint in January 2019. In April, I reinstalled both Windows and Linux. I ordered a 120 gigabyte solid-state drive, a hard drive caddy (which also works for a solid-state drive) and 16 gigabytes of memory in May 2020. The SSD and hard drive caddy came from and the memory came from MemoryStock. I set up a dual-booting system for the third time as soon as I set everything up.

I replaced the single memory chip of 4 gigabytes with the two memory chips of 8 gigabytes each before doing anything else. It’s overkill for Linux anything, and probably for Windows 10, but I don’t care. It’s the maximum amount of memory this laptop can use. The sweet spot for the software I use is only 8 gigabytes.

I reinstalled Windows and partitioned the internal hard drive. The Windows partition is only around 99 gigabytes, the remainder is for storage. I removed the DVD drive, replaced it with the hard drive caddy containing the SSD, and installed Linux Mint Cinnamon on the SSD.

I’m using 1 gigabyte of zRam as swap instead of a swap file (I commented out the line in /etc/fstab), but I left the swap file in place. Even when I do a lot of intensive work, I rarely see that swap being used. The highest value I’ve seen so far is 10 megabytes.

Unless something gets whacked on this laptop, I’ll probably still be using it for a few more years. It’s more than enough for the things I use it for.

My Next Desktop Computer?

I’m seriously considering a Raspberry Pi as my next desktop computer, but I’ll probably wait a while if I decide to get one. The model B can now use up to 8 gigabytes of memory. I have an old desktop computer and at least two 19-inch or 21-inch monitors (I really don’t remember) in a storage room. I’m sure there are things I can cannibalize from the computer case. The monitors require adapters since they don’t have HDMI ports.

For me, this would be a hobbyist computer and a backup computer if I suddenly find myself without a working laptop computer. Ha! Like that’s ever going to happen. I have a computer toolkit and I know how to use it.

Photo Attribution: Free-Photos from Pixabay

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