Posted in Repurpose Equipment, Ubuntu - Linux

Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS on a Dell Latitude D630

I have an old Dell laptop that started experiencing memory issues several years ago.  I do not recall if it had Windows 7 on it, but I’m guessing that it did when I brought it back to the office from home.  At one time, I had my laptop and iPad at home and used them both quite a bit, both for work and personal, but then the institution changed their off campus policy for technology.  They expected me to sign a contract that stated that I would be responsible (monetarily) if the equipment I had at home were damaged, lost, or stolen.

I had no problem with being responsible if an item was damaged or lost by me… but, I definitely had a problem being expected to pay for the item, if someone broke in and stole it.  And, that is just what happened about four years ago.  I came home one hot afternoon, I think the Monday after the 4th of July that year and when I got to my apartment door, it was slightly open.  I then noticed that it had been kicked in.  I entered cautiously and there were papers and items strewn all over the living room.  Heck, it was pretty much like it always was, but I hadn’t done this damage.

I didn’t even notice that the office provided laptop was gone until after the police had left (and it took about an hour for them to arrive after I first called).  A $600 Government check had also been taken, a nice Westinghouse 30″ PnP HDTV, and a small Canon digital camera.  Apparently, some druggies that had been visiting someone in the apartment complex had decided I might have something worth stealing.  I could never prove this, although my downstairs neighbor had talked with a young woman (even given her something to drink) that morning and he knew that she was the granddaughter of a law enforcement officer from the area.  She was probably the “look out” while her friend or friends scoffed my loot.  They were probably long gone before 9am.  *I did get a replacement check for the $600 check, but the insurance only paid for half of the other item’s value (until you sent in proof that you had replaced the stolen items).

So, the Dell laptop has been gathering dust on my office window shelf for a couple of years now.  Since it was experiencing memory issues, I had sometime ago, put a version of the Chrome OS on it.  It worked, but was nothing to write home about.

I’ve been trying to convince myself that I should buy a Raspberry Pi, but each time I did, it just seemed like too much effort to get all the components together to actually do something with it.  The Pi costs about $35, but then you have to have a keyboard, a memory card, a USB hub, etc. and it looks like it would at least double in price.  *I don’t count the cost of the HDTV.  I’ve got at least one of those that I could hook it up to.

I think I’ve talked myself out of the Raspberry Pi, but then I thought… “maybe I could install Ubuntu (Linux) on the laptop” so that I could become more familiar with Linux.

Yesterday morning, I came into the office and pulled the laptop onto my desk and plugged it in.  *It also has recharge issues because the power cable I currently have isn’t for this laptop.  It will power the laptop, but not recharge it.  I got online and downloaded a copy of the Ubuntu install disk, first for the Mac, and when that didn’t work, I also downloaded a Windows copy.  I burned the .iso to DVD and then put it in the laptop’s player.  F12 and boot from the DVD drive.  Ubuntu started up.

Ubuntu 14.04 on Dell Latitude D630I am amazed, I followed the instructions and it wasn’t too long before I had a working version of Ubuntu 14.04 on the Dell.  I then went out and found instructions for installing WordPress.  I almost finished that up this morning, even getting the multisite setup to work… but, there are write permissions issues and I cannot download and save extra themes or plugins because I don’t have write permissions for the folders and the direct WP install process won’t let me install from the drive.  It prompts me for FTP authentication info. *Addendum:  I was reading another set of install instructions, and for some reason (more intuition than understanding), I ran a single line of code that reset permissions on the web folder.  I think it was giving write permissions to the database account (webdata?).  After this, WP worked perfectly.  I have installed several plugins and different themes without a problem.

Well, not being familiar with Linux (Ubuntu), the language or syntax, I have gotten surprisingly far along in a short time.  And, after all, learning Linux was why I installed Ubuntu.

ANNOTATION:  (9/29/15) I may have written this elsewhere, but I found a couple of old Dell Laptops that were on their way out, and asked if I could scavenge their memory or batteries.  I found extra memory on one chip, and found one good battery.  The laptop has been sitting on my desktop for a while now, running Ubuntu, and when the power went out a while ago, it continued to run from the battery.


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