What to do with an old laptop? Ubuntu it.

Prior to Lenovo I used to carry around, as my personal PC, a little sub-notebook from Fujitsu called a Lifebook P2120 that was recommended to me by Ben Lipman for a single compelling reason — it was one of the few laptops out there with a trackpoint instead of the dreaded touchpad.

I liked the machine — it had more than 10 hours of battery life with the modular CD/DVD replaced with a big Li-Ion battery — it could play DVDs decently, had optical and S-Video ports, and was, for the time, pretty ahead of the curve in terms of features.

It’s fatal flaw was the Transmeta Crusoe processor which was woefully anemic and made some tasks nearly impossible. But — the machine served me well and yesterday, seeing it look lonely, I pulled it out and configured it with Ubuntu.

Well, it looks good,but I can’t a wireless connection to the house network and when I go looking for help, I find stuff like this:

“Here’s some more information in case anyone has the time to help me:

ckblackm@ckblackm-laptop:~$ ifconfig -a
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:E0:00:C1:2B:4D
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::2e0:ff:fec1:2b4d/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:3036 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1605 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:2227825 (2.1 MiB) TX bytes:258169 (252.1 KiB)
Interrupt:9 Base address:0x8800

lo Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr: Mask:
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
RX packets:6 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:6 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:300 (300.0 b) TX bytes:300 (300.0 b)

wlan0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:00:00:00:00:00
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:0 (0.0 b) TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)
Interrupt:9 Memory:dfa0a000-dfa0b000

If I don’t use the -a flag for ifconfig… wlan0 doesn’t show up.”

Okay. Sure. This is why desktop linux for consumers is a gleam in somebody’s eye. I’m sure I could call Canonical and seek some help, but want to bet if I was to take this into the Geek Squad I’d come away empty-handed?

I’d put this sort of stuff in the category of hobbyist Tinkering. But it sure is a lot of fun to make an old notebook sing again.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “What to do with an old laptop? Ubuntu it.”

  1. Mark: for a lot of machines – including most Thinkpads – Ubuntu will in fact just work when you turn it on. my X40, as an example, works flawlessly right out of the box: wifi, Bluetooth, VGA out, even a Cingular WWAN card.

    neither Ubuntu nor desktop Linux are perfect, to be sure, and neither are for everyone. i’m with Mossberg on that front.

    it really is startling, however, how quickly the experience is catching up. particularly as vendors like ATI and Intel and Sierra open up their drivers.

    if you want to get this machine’s wireless working, though, drop me a line. happy to try and work through it with you.

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