Six of one…

…half a dozen of another.

This is a sorta halfway almost compgeeky post, so if that’s not to your taste, read on down the page… And yeh, yeh, I know: two days in a row for computer-related posts. What can I say except, “[I] don’t get around much any more… ” *heh*

Oh, it’s also the weekend linkfest post, so I hope you know how to handle that. If not, read the foot of the post.

So, Lovely Daughter dropped off a discarded computer a friend of hers was trying to dump. Not much of a comp, frankly. 450Mhz box that doesn’t even have a couple hundred megs of memory, a 20GB HD and an apparently 8-year-old AGP 1X vidcard. And someone had loaded WinXP Pro on it… IOW, it’s a tad of a slug, but in a nice way. ;-).

“Well,” thought I, “Why not try to see if it can be made usable?”

First off: scrubbing the former user’s personal data. It looks like they made a stab at deleting personal documents, but lots was left behind, and a quick check reveals the empty space was NOT erased with a good DoD or other compliant eraser software, so… overwrite the empty/slack space, etc., as well as erase other pieces of personal data left behind.

Blow out the dust bunnies. Some brought to mind the recent feast North Korea’s high pandjandrum made of a prize-winning rabbit LOANED to North Korea for stud purposes. The thing weighed in at around 23 pounds. Yep. These reminded me of that. BIG, scary dust bunnies.


Hmmm… Doesn’t look like the WinXP Pro install has ever been updated. Dozens and dozens (and DOZENS!) of security patches missing. Ahhh! Perhaps this is why! “Windows Geniune Advantage” (AKA “Microsoft Genuine ‘Screw You'” *heh*) says it’s not a legit copy of Windows. Let’s see… Yep. It’s an install of a “volume licensing” copy that’s had the license key invalidated by Microsoft (presumably because of improper usage). “Of course,” thought I, “there were plenty of legitimate uses of that license before it was invalidated, and surely Lovely Daughter’s friend was one of those!”

Still, I had to update everything using Bigfix (because Shavlik Netchk Protect was just too big and memory hungry to install and use on this machine) just to make it as “secure” as Microsoft Windows XP can be, installed a complete (ad hoc) suite of security products as well, of course. Then…

Aw heck, why not… Used a spare volume licensing key I have for WinXP Pro and changed the license/registration info in the Registry. Downloaded the full XP-SP2 and IE7 (because whoever gets this will probably wanna surf using IE, unless I can drum Opera into their heads. :-)). Sure enough, SP2 installed just fine. IE7 ran the validation tool and then installed (though it took forEVer!). Not bad.

But it sure does need more memory! *sheesh!*

Somehow, I kinda think I’d be doing the eventual user a favor to scrub the thing and install Linux or BSD. I dunno. Add memory and another hard drive and set it up to dual boot? I dunno… 512MB of memory for the thing might set me back $50, and the whole box is almost worth that, as it is. (Well, parting it out might yield more. The CDRW drive is not bad, but nice DVDRW drives are in the $30 range now, and the rest of it… I dunno. $50 more bucks for some decent memory might not be good sense.)

On this “old” computer (well, slightly older and more underpowered than my venerable 500Mhz Win2K comp with 512MB and five times the storage, LOTS better graphics, etc.–a computer that is still usable), the “essentials”–IMO–for a WinXP comp:

WinXP Pro SP-2 (XP Home is just Pro with half the cylinders plugged–*heh*)
Opera Browser (Using the latest “weekly build” of the 9.2 beta–super stable; I’ve not had any problems)
Sysnternals Suite
AVG 7.5 Antivirus
AVG Anti-Spyware (Free)
AVG Rootkit tool (free)
Comodo Firewall (free)
Advanced Windows Care2 Personal (free) A multi-functional set of tools. Good stuff.
Other Anti-spyware:
Spybot Search and Destroy (almost more useful for the included tools found under the “Advanced” mode)
Adaware Personal SE
Iobit Smart Defrag (free, much better than Windows’ built-in defrag, and at $0, just the thing to put on a machine like this instead of spending $50 for O&O Defrag)
X-Teq Setup 6.3
Nero Burning ROM 5 (Was on it and I have Nero 6 available should I want it, so I just left it)
OpenOffice 2.2 (Lotus Word Pro 97 was installed, but not worth keeping, IMO)

As things go along, I’ll probably add Real Player Alternative (because I hate Real Player’s bad manners ;-)), Irfanview to handle graphics (and QuickTime videos, because I despise QuickTime’s manners even more than I hate Real Player’s manners), but that ought to about handle most things this computer will be capable of.

Still, I’m tempted to just chuck it all and plop a decent install of Ubuntu on here.

Oh, *sigh* As I write this, the old computer’s just sitting there, starting to whine at me. Yep. CPU fan’s siezing up. I am NOT spending a couple of bucks for a new CPU fan for a computer this old. I either have something sitting around somewhere I can fit into the thing or I can pull the fan, open it up and lube it (I still have a tube of old IBM synthetic lube somewhere around here). But if I’m too much of a tightwad to spend $50 for adequate memory to run WinXP Pro correctly, I’m not gonna shell out $$ for a new fan… Well, unless some “Aunt Tilly” ends up with the thing.

Please don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad computer at all, but newer–though still used– ones (1Ghz or faster, adequate memory, larger hard drives, etc.) are $70-$80, bare, and will take to Unbuntu, Puppy Linux or PC-BSD like ducks to water.

[Update–already, *heh*–Yeh, I had an old fan sitting around, a pull from a parted-out comp but still better than the failing fan in This Old Computer. And Puppy Linux 2.15CE likes the computer, a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚ ]

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41 Replies to “Six of one…”

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  8. Thanks for the tip on CyberDefender 2. I did give Microsoft OneCare another shot, installing it on the old box in the post (after disabling the WGA lookup in the .msi file–the WGA lookup passed with the Internet Exploder 7 installation, but I hate the nosy thing so disabled it *heh*). Still don’t like it. I made sure some spyware was installed, then ran the M$ product. No joy. Ran Adaware SE and… caught it.

    I’ll give the CyberDefender 2 product a shot. Thanks again!

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