Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

A restoration of order

12th July 2009

This weekend, I finally put my home computing displacement behind me. My laptop had become my main PC with a combination of external hard drives and an Octigen external hard drive enclosure keeping me motoring in laptop limbo. Having had no joy in the realm of PC building, I decided to go down the partially built route and order a bare-bones system from Novatech. That gave me a Foxconn case and motherboard loaded up with an AMD 7850 dual-core CPU and 2 GB of RAM. With the motherboard offering onboard sound and video capability, all that was needed was to add drives. I added no floppy drive but instead installed a SATA DVD Writer (not sure that it was a successful purchase, though, but that can be resolved at my leisure) and the hard drives from the old behemoth that had been serving me until its demise. A session of work on the kitchen table and some toing and froing ensued as I inched my way towards a working system.

Once I had set all the expected hard disks into place, Ubuntu was capable of being summoned to life with the only impediment being an insistence of scanning the 1 TB Western Digital and getting stuck along the way. Not having the patience, I skipped this at start up and later unmounted the drive to let fsck do its thing while I got on with other tasks; the hold up had been the presence of VirtualBox disk images on the drive. Speaking of VirtualBox, I needed to scale back the capabilities of Compiz, so things would work as they should. Otherwise, it was a matter of updating various directories with files that had appeared on external drives without making it into their usual storage areas. Windows would never have been so tolerant and, as if to prove the point, I needed to repair an XP installation in one of my virtual machines.

In the instructions that came with the new box, Novatech stated that time was a vital ingredient for a build and they weren’t wrong. The delivery arrived at 09:30 and I later got a shock when I saw the time to be 15:15! However, it was time well spent and I noticed the speed increase when putting ImageMagick through its paces with a Perl script. In time, I might get brave and be tempted to add more memory to get up to 4 GB; the motherboard may only have two slots, but that’s not such a problem with my planning on sticking with 32-bit Linux for a while to come. My brief brush with its 64-bit counterpart revealed some roughness that warded me off for a little while longer. For now, I’ll leave well alone and allow things to settle down again. Lessons for the future remain and I may even mull over them in another post…

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