Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


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 (, 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.

Took it home, and -- for something different -- installed Crunchbang, which is a bare-bones version of Linux that's designed for older, lower-spec machines.  It intentionally omits a lot of guff:  the fancy bells-and-whistles, fancy desktop thingies, and the like.  I'd recently read a comparison of five low-impact Linux distros, and this one was in the top two (based on my criteria:  straightforward to install, straightforward installation of new software, and can play YouTube videos).

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.


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