Sorry -- haven't posted for a while.
About two weeks ago, the laptop that I bought used, about five(?) years ago, for AU$230, finally bit the dust.
For the last year or so the keyboard had not been working properly, so I had to use an external, USB keyboard: not too bad. But recently I think the "up-arrow" key was stuck in a "pressed" position, because the cursor would keep moving to the top of text windows (and lists of files, within folders). This made the computer awkward to use (although I figured out that tapping the "down-arrow" key would over-ride the "up-arrow" tendency).
But finally: it just wouldn't boot.
Luckily, I had backed everything up just two sessions before -- so I'd only lost some notes to myself, plus one or two webpages that I'd saved to HD.
Browsed the local online classifieds (gumtree.com.au), for a replacement. This time I'm going back to desktop units: they're modular, so if the screen, keyboard, etc. goes wonky -- you can swap it out with ease. I found a local guy who had a range of business-surplus Dell desktop PCs for sale. All of them came with a keyboard, mouse, and a flat-screen monitor.
I was deciding between a AU$50, AU$80, and AU$100 machine. The difference between the $50 and the $80 choices was that the $80 machine had twice the RAM (2GB vs. 1GB). The difference between the $80 and $100 machine was the processor speed: I think it was 2.4GHz versus 2.6GHz. So I went with the $80 machine: I'd pay $20 for the bump up in RAM, but not bother with the proportionately small increase in speed.
The other option was a Ubuntu-related distro, called Bohdi Linux -- but I figured I'd give the non-Ubuntu flavor a chance: Ubuntu already has enough market share. :)
So far I like Crunchbang well enough -- although I've actually had to dabble with the "terminal" (basically, like working in DOS instead of a Windows environment) to install some additional (free!!!) software (graphics, recording, and video editing software). And unlike Mint Linux -- which I had on my laptop -- which lets you browse by software category (e.g. "games") -- with Crunchbang you have to already know the name of the software.
But, some websearches, and some notes to myself, let me achieve what I needed to achieve. So, sure.
Also: Crunchbang seems to have a quirk where if you're trying to save a folder with the same name as an existing folder, instead of automatically saving a copy and calling it "copy of ____" -- it appears to just re-save the contents back into the original folder. Huh.
Other than that, though, it's working well: I've just finished a session of doing some audio editing of some audio files of two hours of interviewing that I did of my late grandfather.
Also -- for you newbie Linux users -- I've noticed with both my Mint Linux laptop, and my Crunchbang Linux desktop machine -- that you have to turn on the router after starting up the web browser. If the router is already on, and then you turn on the computer -- it says you're connected, but your web browser still can't figure it out. So you have to go turn off the router, then turn it back on again. Easy enough -- but a bit of a nuisance.
Also, Crunchbang doesn't seem to have a "check the integrity of your USB flashdrive" app -- whereas Windows and (I believe) other Linux distros do. Yeah, it has fsck -- which I believe stands for "file system check" -- but that's only through the terminal, and I haven't taught myself how to use it properly. I was hoping for something where I just right-click on the USB flashdrive icon and choose a "scan the disk for errors" option.
Ah well. It's free. And interesting to use.
Oh: and I tried to use the laptop again, just to see if I could salvage those extra two days' worth of work. And it started up! But now I don't trust it: I don't want an un-reliable computer. So: never mind.
But I did grab the additional files from it, and copied them to my "new" computer.