8 years of my Inspiron 1501: Still Alive…and Dell

13Jul15

I do wish a lot of times, my laptop had the resources AND more importantly the requisite drivers needed to run a 3d desktop like Cinnamon or (ugh) Unity. They have been around for like quite a few years, but my laptop has been around even longer. When I think about it, I really can’t put a finger on why exactly am I so attached to this first laptop of mine. Well, let’s see:

  1. Got it for free from my parents. Still works, so why not.
  2. Has always managed to bounce back up.
    1. Screen stopped coming back on.
    2. Won’t start because it got too hot.
    3. Wrong driver disabled WiFi and sent machine into kernel panic
    4. Tons more kernel panics.
  3. Can see the latest movies (VLC) and browse with the latest (and safest) browser (Firefox 39)
  4. Helps me with my WfH option without having to lug the equally heavy Dell laptop from office.
  5. Has allowed me to avoid any kind of official tech support for it, for like forever.
  6. Tests my patience…oh no no, not that one. I mean it teaches me patience. Hints me to explore real world.

But more importantly, when you have a personal device with the kind of rock solid stability that’s a combination of Dell Inspiron hardware and GNU/Linux and which ain’t rock hard to understand (Mint: because there are no prizes for doing everything the hard way.. :p), there’s no easy way to even consider switching it for anythng else. I don’t think I had discovered Mint, the very first time I got this laptop. I remember exploring a few different distributions (usually upset with the head breaking needed to get WiFI working), but the one other distro that had a significant stay on this box is Vector Linux. It was to Slackware, what Mint is to Ubuntu. It helped me learn a lot more about the system than being a useful OS that gets out of the way of your actual work. Mint sucks you into a comfort zone. Having used it for so many years, with no need to upgrade to every next release, it always makes it really really difficult every passing day to really consider trying out any other distro. Especially a non-Ubuntu based one. In fact, my system is partitioned, so I can keep changing the distro, but I only wonder if the new distro will retain the settings and data of the applications as set by the previous distro. I mean what is the level of standardization? Should there be any expectation of too much standardization? Can I get back to the old distro in minimal time and get up and running if things don’t work out?
TBH, I really really wanna try out Arch Linux as the main desktop distro. More than me, I wonder if my laptop is in more of a comfort zone with Mint on it for so many years….nah, I’m just shifting blame on it. Bwahaha! :p

I suppose I am just avoiding upgrading to something that will primarily excel in eye candy graphics and hopefully full HD or 4k movies. Currently they run like slide shows with my machine heating up to boiling point…of water!! And I’m not even like a scientist or engineer to run like a million calculations 24×7 or run 3d simulations of designs generated in real time (yea, think Hollywood style…not the real engineering class type!). And being the way, I am..I have waited for decent computing power as a kid to play games and later when I have grown up enough to know much more about computers, using them for eye candy or games just seem like something I’d do a few times at the games arcade but not pay up for the arcade to be at home all the time. Grapes are sour, I know…but the laptop does retain its value…even after 8 years of usage. I backup data but I haven’t dared test a way to backup application preferences that I can easily plug back in, in case something goes wrong. There are so many applications available on this machine or for that matter any general purpose linux distro but what matters now is just the browser, media player and at times a file decompressor (file-roller, engrampa, etc.) So many of the desktop application uses have been incorporated into the browser or are available as extensions or web based services used within the browser. Anything beyond that, there is more often an app for it…on the mobile than on the desktop. The mobile and tablet also help a lot in filling in of the gaps in purposes that a computer comes useful for, but this one just falls short of.
Talking of apps, do take a look at Firefox Marketplace or even Chrome apps (webstore). At least with firefox marketplace, you get to try out some html5 apps complete with desktop menu shortcuts as if they were installed from your distro’s repository. And they install across all forms of computing devices. All towards the desktop-mobile convergence phenomenon I guess.

Lastly, even if I did plan to go for a new machine, which I have thought about on and off (courtesy of my nice folks offering to get me a new one or find me a new one that I should buy), I keep wondering if laptops are still made as steady and reliable hardware wise as this one is. It’s really really scary to just drop off my personal laptop at any service center. Worst of all, having to interact with support ‘engineers’ who would not touch a Linux machine with a 10 foot pole. It also diminishes my confidence to see Dell not having any more n-series laptops, which were all about letting the customer choose what OS they want to put on the laptop. You can only find a few underpowered (compared to their Windows counterparts) Ubuntu laptops and that too on 3rd party online shopping sites. system76 sounds like a great brand, but I dunno if they’d give OS neutral laptops and probably not be as costly as they currently are. Plus they don’t officially ship to India or have any service center here (which, ironically, I try to avoid as much as possible). I am possessive about whatever my computer has stored over the years with an unimaginable level of paranoia. The thought of exchanging this to get a new laptop always stops at “Oh hell no! I’m not giving this to anyone!”

So wow! I dunno if this is something redundant that I have ranted and lamented about before. But this is as random as it gets. Although about a single theme. “Overly attached laptop user”

p.s. What a coincidence to have a post up and ready when things finishing x years is all the trend now!

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