So Long HP; Seeking Computes…

So I’m posting this from my Samsung Galaxy Note.  I bought a bluetooth keyboard for it.  Still needs a mouse.  I can ‘sort of type’ on the keyboard.  It is a bit slow and bouncy, and the key spacing is a bit off, so more ‘fixes’ needed.   But a world better than the faux keyboard on the screen with hunt and peck.

Still sucky at ‘mark text cut and paste’.  Hoping a mouse fixes that.   For now it is what it is.

And it is what I have.

The HP Laptop is dying.  

First the battery said it would not charge.  That was about 2 years ago.  So it has lived on life support to the wall.

Then the keyboard lost it’s key markings.   No big.  I touch type.  That was about a year ago.

Now it is saying, at boot, that it has detected a fan not working and it will shutdown in 15 seconds.  (Or I can choose to continue and it might end horribly….)   So that’s where I’m at.  

Need to suck off about 1/2 TB of data (mostly on backups already… in California…) and move onto a new laptop.   Until then, this poor excuse for a typing station is what I’ve got.  Barely workable for straight text posting.

OK, I took a look at Chromebooks.  Found one that woud let me instal Linux and with a 350 GB hard disk.  No longer made… Sigh.  The others are all SSD Solid State Disk now.  OK.  Except FLASH has limited read/write cycles (about 10,000 to 100,000 ) and forgets things in a few years ( so those archived SD cards of photos ‘forget’ in 5 to 10 years…)   Put Linux swap on one of those, you have a brick in months… or weeks…   

All the “Windows Afflicted” are Win8, with EUFI, so buggered and not secure no màtter what you do.  Can”t even slide TrueCrypt under the OS.

Dell has a Linux Laptop sold by Amazon so I can wait a long time and   hope the bios is not EUFI buggered.  Sigh.


So postings will be thin until I work this out.  It woud be easier if I was happy with Mico$oft crap and lack of security, but I’m not.  I’ll likely get an old Win-7 laptop used and just scrub it.


I did try using my Raspberry Pi.  Got it to work with the HDMI TV and external keyboard.  The TV has flicker and with X windows running it is way slow in FireFox.   Midori (sp?) was fast, but both didn’t have any video player.  Sigh.  Again.   So I’m thinking if I want a ‘mix your own’ workstation I need a different card / computer for it.   


So I’m “seeking computes” and largely limited to small comment sized blocks of typing until I sort this out.  Oh, and I second Anthony’s distaste at the “beep beep boop’ editor at WordPress.  Stupid and sucky and slow.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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26 Responses to So Long HP; Seeking Computes…

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Have you thought building a normal computer for the main work?
    Or are you time critical?
    Or Portability essential?

  2. Simon Derricutt says:

    EM – I’ve had an MSI Wind U90 netbook for about 4-5 years now. It came with Suse Linux, and I changed it to Ubuntu for ease of use – these days I just want things to work and not to spend hours tweaking the OS. The battery life was around 2 hours when it was new, and now it’s around an hour 30. If you find one of these secondhand, it’s probably worth getting it especially if it has the double-life battery pack (the later U100 had a 10″ screen – easier on old eyes). I don’t do a lot of typing on it, so although some keys have dips in by now it still has the key designators OK. It’s actually a pretty usable keyboard – not quite full size but works well.

    It’s difficult to get a machine without Windoze on it. At the time it was a choice of that or the Asus EEE which really isn’t good enough.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @A C Osbourn:

    Portability really helps as I’m a bit itinerant with very limited space while posting from places like Starbucks is most convenient much of the time (or from the couch or bedroom where it’s hard to snuggle up with a tower…) I might go with a ‘rat on a rope’ approach. Lump of compute server with a small display and bluetooth KB / mouse.

    @Simon: I’ll look at them.

    Strange thing is that I have an old Compaq from about a decade+ back that still runs… It’s about 64?mb of memory and in California, heavy as a brick and running a very old Linux / browser. But still runs… The HP variation is just not as sturdy or durable.

    We’ll see where I end up. “Roll your own” or just get another temporary “crap top” with Win8 or Chrome on it. Both work, just have IMHO”security issues’ in the way they have built in holes or backdoors and share information with their parent…

    Or maybe I’ll just repackage the HPguts into a nice wooden wrapper ;-)

  4. Clay Marley says:

    I was at NewEgg looking for small laptops to replace an old XP machine. Still plenty available with Windows 7 and real rotating hard drives. Some descriptions say “…with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (available through downgrade rights from Windows 8 Pro) “. Not quite sure what that means beyond MS recognition what a dud Win 8 was. Windows 9 is coming out next month. But I have learned never to be an early adopter with an OS.

  5. Paul Hanlon says:

    A friend of mine’s computer died and I helped him choose a new one. In the end he went for a Chromebook. The selling points for him were price €220, ease of use (he only wanted it for browsing, email and storing his pctures), just right size 12″ screen with a keyboard big enough for working hands, 7hr battery life, 10-15 second boot time.

    I have to admit, I’m seriously thinking of getting one purely for social stuff, although it does mean buying into Google’s ethos, i.e. everything “in the cloud on their servers” with all that that entails.

    I also got a Banana Pi (I feel a bit of a traitor), and I’m very impressed with it. It is well built, noticeably faster and being able to attach a SATA hard drive directly makes a huge difference. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll soon have it as my web, mail, file, backup server, wireless access point. Costs about 5c a day to run, no privacy worries and with HTML5, everything can be done in the browser, like dragging files directly into the page and they uploading all by themselves.

    More than fast enough for a low traffic website, it can be accessed through TightVNC with no noticeable lag. A free subscription with, and it’s available anywhere in the world. So that’s why I don’t mind getting a ChromeBook, because I’ll still be able to keep my private stuff private.

    There’s also the Cubieboard 2, which is based on the exact same chip, is slightly cheaper, slightly more mature, a better layout on the board, and shouldn’t have the wait times. I have one on order from Amazon, which I should be getting Monday or so, whereas I waited over two months for the Banana pi (it is brand new after all). So in a space 4″ wide by 4″ high by 6″ long, I have my own personal cloud for less than a year’s subscription to Dropbox or Spotify. It’s streaming music to my main PC as I write.

  6. R. Shearer says:

    Fan transplant is cheap and easy and might help keep the patient alive a little longer.

  7. philjourdan says:

    From the mostly irrelevant information category:

    replacing a fan is not a big deal on an HP laptop (Qualifier: I am no Laptop Tech, but have replaced some of the easier parts like hard drives, memory, screens, and now one fan). But since that is just the latest, this looks like the junker that is going to nickle and dime you to death. So yea, a second hand laptop is probably the best way to go (given your requirements).

    SSDs are better now. The 100k is the bottom of the barrel, but you still have a limit that a regular drive normally does not have. I would offer you one, but unfortunately the only laptops I have available, the MB is DOA (as I said, I can do the easy replacements). And if you are going to replace the MB, you might as well get a new one. Or at least a second hand one.

    Good luck on finding one. The data is easily retrievable with a $20 external USB case from Amazon.

    p.s. Saw R. Shearer’s post just before clicking post, and so I guess that is 2 for fan replacement – except of course it is just the latest, so the question is “what’s next?”.

  8. philjourdan says:

    @Clay Markey

    Some descriptions say “…with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (available through downgrade rights from Windows 8 Pro) “. Not quite sure what that means beyond MS recognition what a dud Win 8 was.

    What it is SUPPOSED to mean is that you get a Win 7 key along with the Win 8 Key and then can download the OS and install it overtop of the Win 8. A hassle, but a much better option than using Win 8!

  9. Greg Hall says:

    I have been using a Toshiba Netbook, NB505 for 3 yrs now. 8 hrs battery. After you remove all the Toshiba “Bloatware” and strip down W7 starter of its “Bloatware”, add “Classic Shell”, it runs better than its specs say it should. I do a lot of typing and the keyboard is quite good.

  10. j ferguson says:

    I did this but it may not make sense for you. 18 months ago the then 4 year old HP GP-42 developed an intermittent connection in the screen feed such that with some tweaking of screen position it was possible to get an image. tweaking got trickier and then became impossible. Historically I rebuild these things, starting with Osborne, Ampro little board, the Suns, TI’s, a Sinclair, the armada m-300s, and the ibm butterfly, but not this time.

    I called hp for an out-of-warranty fix and was asked by the nice guy in bangalore (he was sharp, too) what the machine was worth to me. I asked why and was told that it was old and many people balked at the repair cost and just bought a new machine. I told him I thought that the cost of the repair ought to be $125-$150 since a new cable was $35 and it was likely the problem and of course labor to get the case open and closed and the shipping. He agreed and we arrived at a cost of $135 including shipping. this was contingent on no-other problems being discovered. I changed the drive to one with nothing on it, and sent it off in the very nice shipping box they fedexed to me. it went to memphis and was back in 4 days. The screen issue was gone, it had a new case and keyboard, my drive and my ram.

    I had also told them not to fuss with the OS since this was a dummy drive.

    I got the impression that the price was a negotiation and that for a moderate “event” cost, they would take care of the obvious and easy things. Likely not a new battery.

    My GP-42 is giving me the battery warning, but since I like it and its terrabyte drive, will probably buy iit another one.

    good luck with this.

    btw, it came with windows 7. HP employees run a website which had all of the drivers I needed to load-up XP on it. it is unofficial but thorough. trick was to get a sata driver on a streamed system disk. Despite this machine never (afaik) shipping with xp, all the necessary drivers were available.

    Now I run Ubuntu 12.04 on it with XP in a VirtualBOX which runs very well btw. Except for damned Quicken, which requires a Windows affliction, I’ve gone completely to Linux. 10.04 for the cnc machine, 12.04 for the rest of them, and SunOS 4.1.4 on the Ten.

    good luck with all this.


  11. Eric Barnes says:

    I’ve been very happy with the hp2145dx that we got for my wife a few (well quite a few) years back.

    Does well as a desktop replacement and will allow you to take it to the coffee shop for a couple of hours (the battery life isn’t great, but I’m not going to be spending an afternoon on battery).

    The graphics card is good enough for me and it has an HDMI port. Runs my 47″ tv well. Works with mythtv in ubuntu 12.04 and does fairly well at OTA 1080i. Lower resolutions it does well.

    The fglrx software for the graphics card is necessary if running 12.04. The support in ubuntu 14 is still beta. Hopefully that is released soon? I’d hate to be stuck at ubuntu 12. The AMD proprietary driver doesn’t compile currently. Getting it to build/run would be a bit of trouble.

    Pretty good little machine if you can pick one up cheap off of ebay or craigslist.

  12. Speed says:

    If I was trying to sell you a device, I would start by figuring out exactly what you needed. Your description is neither detailed nor specific. And I wouldn’t be looking for technical specs (processor, RAM, Disc etc) but functional …
    o What software do you use?
    o What do you use the software for?
    o What level of security do you require?
    o How much data do you want/need to have with you at all times?
    o Do you need to back up your data hourly, daily, weekly monthly?
    o How do you feel about cloud backup vs. disk backup?
    o Do you need connectivity in places that have no wifi?
    o What type(s) of pointing devices do you prefer?
    o How’s your eyesight?
    o What’s your budget?

    I think that your concerns about reliability of solid state disk drives is a little outdated. More and more devices with no mechanical drives are shipped and used daily (phones, tablets, laptops) without any discernable outcry about reliability — possibly because there is no problem or because SSDs still fail but at much lower rates than mechanical drives. Your willingness to store your backups in, for all practical purposes, an unreachable (or at least inconvenient) location indicates that drive failure (all drives fail) is a red herring. By the way, how do you update your backups when you edit files?

    In any case, Microsoft’s current backup philosophy is to automatically backup data-only either to an external drive or OneDrive (or both) since most (all?) applications can be downloaded from the vendor in the case of loss or failure. This seems to be working well.

    My view is that I spend too much time working with a computer (on my desk or on the road) to not a first class reliable tool. One unrecoverable or inconvenient failure would be costly in both time and money. Having a reliable machine and a workable recovery plan lets me sleep at night.

  13. John Robertson says:

    As far as hardware goes, what about checking out your local pawn shop, reuse or salvation Army?
    These older laptops often wind up there, often in amazing shape.

  14. gallopingcamel says:

    Wow! All that stuff resonated with me.

    I used to have a Toshiba laptop that served me well for several years until a chip desoldered owing to overheating. I went to “Best Buy” and asked for their cheapest laptop. It turned out to be another Toshiba Satellite laptop. The salesman warned me that 50% of these laptops were returned owing to overheating problems but that did not bother me as I am into “Cheap”.

    My shiny new Toshiba laptop “Bricked” within two hours so the next day I showed up at Best Buy to replace it with the second cheapest laptop in the store. That turned out to be a HP 2000.

    What a magical experience! With an Intel “Core i3″ CPU running Mint Linux nothing I did caused any of the four processors to function above 25% loading. One of my sons was so impressed that he sold his $2,000 Apple and replaced it with a $500 HP 2000. He loves it, so eat your heart out Apple!

    My beefs with the HP 2000 relate to the fact that it has a DVD drive that I don’t want and a huge (500 GB) hard drive. I bought a 128 GB “Solid State Drive” from Samsung to extend the battery life (600 mW dissipation). Linux Mint now boots up in an eye blink. It makes one wonder why anybody is selling laptops with drives that include electric motors……..or Windoze.

  15. agimarc says:

    Acer & Asus make pretty good laptops. We’ve been running a store for 4 years on Acer Win7 pro laptops. Worth a look. Cheers -

  16. Wyguy says:

    OT. At least your not out in the mud flats of Nevada trying to set a drenched burning man afire.

  17. Ursa Felidae says:

    galloping camel: I’m interested in the HP2000. Did it come with mint linux or was it the standard windows 7/8? I was also curious about the gains in battery life going from disk to solid state?

  18. Sera says:

    My replacement fan cost $2.71- had to wait 2½ weeks for delivery (China). Free shipping from Ebay. Too many people throw stuff away nowadays that is easily fixed. When my washing machine stopped agitating, I went online for the sevice guide and quickly figured out that it was the agitator coupler ($5.95) and not the transmission ($200.00). I haven’t seen a shoe repair shop in 30 years. I’m starting to feel old (but not worn out).

  19. Sera says:

    And while you’ve got it open, replace the batteries.

  20. j ferguson says:


    the observation about the hazard of running a swap partition on an SS drive seems reasonable. I looked to see how the MAC air swmbo wanted did swap. It runs on what looks to me like an evolved Berkley Unix but uses files instead of a partition for SWAP. It has a 128 gig SS drive. My suspicion is that this swap method would not be prone to the risk you suggest. But a Linux system with a dedicated partition?

    Maybe this is another area that Speed is sharp on.

  21. R. de Haan says:

    Still working with a Macbook Pro which is now limited to the use of OSX 6.6.8 because I bought it new in 2007.
    When the fans started to make noise I took a toothpick, dipped it in Molycote to lubricate the bastards and haven’t had a problem since. Only replaced the battery and the charger, that’s it.
    For me this is a daily user running almost 24/7.

  22. R. de Haan says:

    OSX 10.6.8 that is of course.

  23. adolfogiurfa says:

    So, my dear E.M. It seems that we are at a twilight zone right now in computing, though I suspect that´s because the old guys retired and there are is not a new generation to replace them, or perhaps the case is that any new hardware/software is classified. My hunch is that we should revisit old and more reliable hardware with simpler software.

  24. R. de Haan says:

    There should be done much more.
    We’re loosing our history faster than aging back up media and disappearing playing systems store it.

    At the same time entire libraries with priceless book collections are closed and the books send to the shredder for destruction.

    This is happening with numerous libraries and book collections.

    We have only recovered a fraction of the Greek civilization, a fraction of the Roman- and Egyption Civilizations and we have huge gaps in our more recent past but today we’re even loosing the data from the moon exploration.

    You know what will happen if we no longer record and register our recent history.

    History will be falsified and abused by government and destroy our heritage.

    Maybe that’s why I still love books and collect them whenever I have an opportunity.

  25. adolfogiurfa says: Haan: Symbols are imperishable. The problem is that WE reject knowledge. It is out there and it has been there all the time, from eons ago….We should be able to read the MUTUS LIBER, the “silent book” (literally: the Dumb Book). We function thanks to the basic laws of the Universe, those two laws we, lost in the Babylonian “confusion of tongues”, have forgot to comprehend: The Law of three (or the Pythagorean Triangle) and The Law of Seven (Or the Law of the Octave), one generating the other by the attraction of love in between the positive and negative, between Yang and Ying, producing the helical movement of ascension towards our source.

  26. Ursa Felidae, 26 August 2014 at 11:45 pm said:
    “galloping camel: I’m interested in the HP2000. Did it come with mint linux or was it the standard windows 7/8? I was also curious about the gains in battery life going from disk to solid state?

    I was intrigued by the Felidae. Fidelis (faithful) or felix (cat)? My guess is that you are the “Cat Bear” or possibly “Bear Cat”.

    Perhaps Latin would add a touch of class to my moniker:
    “Camelus Quadrupedus”?……………………….Nah!

    My HP2000 came with Windoze 8 which was so horrible that I immediately reformatted the hard drive and replaced it with Windoze XP that I keep for a couple of programs that won’t run in WINE.

    Then I installed Mint 13 and found that the wireless card would not work. Called HP but they declined to support Linux. So I tried Mint 14 and magically the wireless card worked perfectly. The only other problem I have with Mint is that the screen goes black just before the log in appears. Apparently there is a minor problem with “grub” (Grand Universal Boot Loader). Just hit the F3 button to see the login.

    What I like about Mint is its elegant simplicity……..just like Ubuntu before the “Unity” GUI was implemented. Not to mention the blinding speed when compared to Windoze.

    The solid state drive consumes 600 mW, quite an improvement over the 4,500 mW hard drive.
    My HP2000 used to consume 14 Watts so with its 47.5 Wh battery it ran for about 3 hours and 20 minutes. With the SSD, the drain is down to 10.1 Watts so I can now run 4 hours and 40 minutes cordless. However, the main benefit is the faster response of the SSD given that I don’t need a huge hard drive.

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