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Search - "custom ssds"
I have this little hobby project going on for a while now, and I thought it's worth sharing. Now at first blush this might seem like just another screenshot with neofetch.. but this thing has quite the story to tell. This laptop is no less than 17 years old.
So, a Compaq nx7010, a business laptop from 2004. It has had plenty of software and hardware mods alike. Let's start with the software.
It's running run-off-the-mill Debian 9, with a custom kernel. The reason why it's running that version of Debian is because of bugs in the network driver (ipw2200) in Debian 10, causing it to disconnect after a day or so. Less of an issue in Debian 9, and seemingly fixed by upgrading the kernel to a custom one. And the kernel is actually one of the things where you can save heaps of space when you do it yourself. The kernel package itself is 8.4MB for this one. The headers are 7.4MB. The stock kernels on the other hand (4.19 at downstream revisions 9, 10 and 13) took up a whole GB of space combined. That is how much I've been able to remove, even from headless systems. The stock kernels are incredibly bloated for what they are.
Other than that, most of the data storage is done through NFS over WiFi, which is actually faster than what is inside this laptop (a CF card which I will get to later).
Now let's talk hardware. And at age 17, you can imagine that it has seen quite a bit of maintenance there. The easiest mod is probably the flash mod. These old laptops use IDE for storage rather than SATA. Now the nice thing about IDE is that it actually lives on to this very day, in CF cards. The pinout is exactly the same. So you can use passive IDE-CF adapters and plug in a CF card. Easy!
The next thing I want to talk about is the battery. And um.. why that one is a bad idea to mod. Finding replacements for such old hardware.. good luck with that. So your other option is something called recelling, where you disassemble the battery and, well, replace the cells. The problem is that those battery packs are built like tanks and the disassembly will likely result in a broken battery housing (which you'll still need). Also the controllers inside those battery packs are either too smart or too stupid to play nicely with new cells. On that laptop at least, the new cells still had a perceived capacity of the old ones, while obviously the voltage on the cells themselves didn't change at all. The laptop thought the batteries were done for, despite still being chock full of juice. Then I tried to recalibrate them in the BIOS and fried the battery controller. Do not try to recell the battery, unless you have a spare already. The controllers and battery housings are complete and utter dogshit.
Next up is the display backlight. Originally this laptop used to use a CCFL backlight, which is a tiny tube that is driven at around 2000 volts. To its controller go either 7, 6, 4 or 3 wires, which are all related and I will get to. Signs of it dying are redshift, and eventually it going out until you close the lid and open it up again. The reason for it is that the voltage required to keep that CCFL "excited" rises over time, beyond what the controller can do.
So, 7-pin configuration is 2x VCC (12V), 2x enable (on or off), 1x adjust (analog brightness), and 2x ground. 6-pin gets rid of 1 enable line. Those are the configurations you'll find in CCFL. Then came LED lighting which required much less power to run. So the 4-pin configuration gets rid of a VCC and a ground line. And finally you have the 3-pin configuration which gets rid of the adjust line, and you can just short it to the enable line.
There are some other mods but I'm running out of characters. Why am I telling you all this? The reason is that this laptop doesn't feel any different to use than the ThinkPad x220 and IdeaPad Y700 I have on my desk (with 6c12t, 32G of RAM, ~1TB of SSDs and 2TB HDDs). A hefty setup compared to a very dated one, yet they feel the same. It can do web browsing, I can chat on Telegram with it, and I can do programming on it. So, if you're looking for a hobby project, maybe some kind of restrictions on your hardware to spark that creativity that makes code better, I can highly recommend it. I think I'm almost done with this project, and it was heaps of fun :D13
The retail price of 2.5 SSDs are getting really cheap these days.
However, it does NOT reflect on custom laptop options...
You greedy Microsoft and Dell!4
TLDR; macOS wouldn’t update to the version I needed because I have a 3rd party SSD. All I needed was a firmware update only found deep within a google search and a secondary SO answer.
I have a video edit project this weekend. No big deal.
Except that the Final Cut Pro project was saved in the latest version of FCPX, for which I need latest MacOS version
As a music producer on the side, I had heard the new file system of MacOS High Sierra would possibly break audio plugins. I didn’t bother updating until now. Looked further into plugin problem, it would be simply a broken hard link which I can easily fix. No big deal.
Except that I have upgraded my MBP SSD from 256gb to this 3rd party 480gb SSD. macOS does not recognize this SSD as compatible with update. No big deal. Simple google search for a terminal command would do the trick.
Except that I found and tried several solutions, including wasting an entire hour updating the original ssd and booting from that to try to update it.
Nothing worked, but deep down in the google search, found in a secondary answer on SO, there was a link for a beta release of a firmware update for the SSD that took two minutes to install, and I was finally able to update.
That firmware update needs to be more prominent everywhere. Wasted well over 3-4 hours updating crap, swapping out SSDs, and googling when all I needed was a fucking firmware update.9
My experience with Mac 💻
So recently I received a macbook from office to work. I have always worked with windows since the day i first touched a computer and recently tried ubuntu during the college for a 1-2 years on and off. When they asked which laptop to provide, i didn't gave any preference but only demanded one which could run our tools faster (mainly android studio , chrome and emulators)
And boy what an experience this world of apple is. for last 4 days, i have been using this, and i would describe my definition for a macbook to be " ITS NOT A GUI based OS. Its a glorified, more aesthetically pleasing, more shittier and irritatingly simple alternative to ubuntu OS that is running on a BLAZING FAST, premium hardware and awful keyboard"
Allow me to explain.
- THE UI: its beautiful and classic. I like all kinds of icons, but macOS' life like icons for notepads, admin access, camera, gallery etc bring back the memory of decades old UI when icons were more relatable.
- The blurs in every screen nd widget looks nicer than windows version of blur, which is also not that bad( again, as a tech user, all the uis are fine for me unless they are truely crap like recent gmail and other google icons)
- ITS HARDWARE . its true, there os is so optimised that i have never seen an android studio emulator run this fast. Like, this little guy is what i5 something with 8gb ram and 256 gb ssd? I have a windows hp laptop with exact similar specs( i5 7th gen, 8gb ram , 256gb ssd+ 1 tb hdd) and i can never even imagine of running emulator +studio , and getting my builds in less than 20 mins. Here, the builds weren't even taking a minute.
- and what else? umm can't remember.
Lets get to the cons
- THE UI . not talking about the asthetics, but the OS itself, the graphical user interface (NOT) . Its super crap and I feel limited in this ui.
- From my experience of windows and linux, i will say windows is a true gui based system as for everything you wanna do, there is a software that will be exposing particular api/database/register entry/setting etc . Linux is a partial gui as it has limited apps and most work can be easily done with terminal.
- Apple is , at its best an incomplete gui. It has a very simple software base, like its file explorer, which can't open system files without managing permissions via cmd. windows peeps, you see the calendar in bottom right? yeah, be grateful for that, here apple's gonna take $3 for this as a third party app
- And what i noticed was that they have intentionally tried to make it a simple/restrained OS. You won't find library setting unless you press a particular combination of keys.
- The windows switching. omg, how i miss those. just hovering over an icon in bottombar in windows would show how many windows of an app are open. here its a nope from apple. just a dot , no matter how many windows you have opened for an app
- THE HARDWARE : Wait, i just said its the best, right? not too much. You would expect a company taking $1500 for a latptop and give some ports, but nah, fuck off with your hard disk, memory card and usb.
- and what's this keyboard? why can't they add a numeric keyboard :'/ i use to rarely move my hand while typing and now its jumping all over the place just to write a 10 digit phn number. Also am so much adjusted to basic keys like control, alt,fn, insert that its to difficult to map my hands to the new command , control-arrow and option. I am testing and trying out my old shortcuts on various apps and hoping i eventually adjust to this keyboard
- and ugh, the mouse. yeah , thank you for showing me those gestures we can perform with this, but no thanks. windows can also have almost all of those gestures with synaptics and i rarely ever used those
- the new touch bar is rarely ever useful as i have better speeds typing the word "useful" than just pressing it there. Maybe its useful for the software u use, but its upto the devs of those s/w to make this shitbar useful
- Thus to me, mac OS is an OS that is a mix of goods and bads . but its like , trying its best to hypnotise me and adjust to its quirks and in future become its follower and embracer, but i don't think i would be. windows has shown me what a gui world is, its file explorer has been my favourite place of stay. the ubuntu has shown me what a terminal based gui world is , and its file explorer (& terminal) is again my favorite place to stay.
so in future if i had to buy a new system, i would rather get my old hp laptop repaired until i have a big bag of cash . then i would buy a high spec custom laptop/computer with 64 or 128 gb ram/ i10 or whatever the powerful cpu is and shit tonnes of ssds and dual boot it with windows + ubuntu. Nope, not gonna be a apple fanboy17