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raymac46

The 10 Year Rule

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raymac46

Being an old guy means I've been around long enough to accumulate some elderly technology. Having said that, I still believe that when it comes to laptops and desktops, the 10 year rule applies. While you can often repurpose a PC with Linux, after a machine gets to be 10 years old it probably isn't worth it.

When I first joined this forum I was trying to use Linux to revitalize a 2000 era desktop and a couple of 1997 laptops. Such machines would be useless today. They had early Pentium processors, a maximum of 512 MB of RAM, primitive USB, IDE drives, AGP video. The laptops had stone age power management and didn't even have an Ethernet connection, let alone wifi. One of them had only a floppy drive. Try installing Linux on that baby!

Fast forward to today. I recently junked an eight year old laptop that was working sorta OK on Linux. However it had been dropped a couple times, a hinge was broken, the screen was failing. That was more a hardware failure.

I have a ten year old netbook that wasn't that great to begin with, has only 2 GB of RAM and an Atom processor. I keep it as a proof of concept of how good Arch Linux is. Arch still runs well and stably on it  as long as you don't want to do anything serious, like surf with Chromium or Chrome.

The one exception to the rule is a twelve year old desktop that I use occasionally to play Spotify in the workroom. That one has a classic AMD Athlon X2 and the original SATA1 325 GB HDD. I have upgraded the memory (DDR2) and put in a junk video card, but I'd never use it for any serious computing anymore.

I'm typing this post on a seven year old Linux desktop that's running an AMD Piledriver APU from 2012 or so. It also has an aging discrete video card onboard, but lots of RAM and a cheap SSD/HDD combination makes it fast and snappy. It has SATA3 - no M.2 or NVME though. If I get up to the ten year mark with this one I'll be happy.

The 10 year rule isn't Moore's Law or anything like it, but it is a good rule of thumb for desktops at least. Those can have upgrades. A ten year old laptop is mostly a curiosity item.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, I don't know about 10 Year Rule in regards to lappies because I don't have any of my old lappies these days. However, they were all pretty old back a few years ago when I had them all happily whirring away on Slackware. They all went to the laptop graveyard once their hardware started failing, though.

 

Now, as to desktops...

 

I've got an old AMD K-7 Thunderbird system out in the shop (from 2000), that is just screaming for me to put Slackware on it. Oh, and Win98SE, also, as I need that OS to run an encryption/decryption app from back then that I used on some documents from that era. I still have the floppies with the documents, but can't decrypt them without Win98 and the app that was used on it back then. I have everything I need to install the Win98 and the encryption app. I just need to go out to the shop one of these days and do it.

 

FUN! I guess, as most of us, I'll have lots of time to do this while "self-isolating".  :)

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securitybreach

Does Slackware still support the 486 processor?

 

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securitybreach

Ah, it was an x86  processor.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Yeah, that K-7 was before its time, actually; a helluva cpu from AMD.

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

I have a few files dating back to 1997 but I don't need Windows 98 to read them. Old WPS (Microsoft Works) files can be read by Libre Office and even older WK4  (Lotus 1-2-3) files can be read by Gnumeric. Linux comes to the rescue again.

I had some WPD files (Word Perfect) but I converted them years ago to DOC so I could read them with Microsoft Office.

Edited by raymac46

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

My oldest running machine now is the K8 Athlon64 X2. Most versions of Linux I'm using now need a 64 bit processor to run.

I was pretty happy with that Athlon 64 back in 2008 - didn't realize at the time that it might be a bit dicey running Linux on it - especially with ATI video (AMD had just bought ATI.) Of course Bruno was rocking a Core 2 Quad back then that put everyone to shame around here.

 

Edited by raymac46

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V.T. Eric Layton
1 hour ago, raymac46 said:

I have a few files dating back to 1997 but I don't need Windows 98 to read them.

 

Oh, it's not a matter of file types; it's the fact that they're encrypted by an app that I used to run on Win98 and is no longer in existence. I have the app, but I need to install it in Win98; maybe XP, but I'm not sure it would work on that OS.

 

The files aren't really anything critical. They're just some pics and other baloney that I never bothered to decrypt since back then (2000 or so). I can't even remember what some of the are. It'll be like opening a time capsule. ;)

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ebrke

I don't know, I have a Lenovo laptop, G530, Intel Core2 Duo T6400 @ 2 GHz, but it's perfectly fine with OpenSUSE and xfce to browse, get email etc. It dates from 2009.

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raymac46

Looking at the specs it came with 3GB of RAM which is a bit skimpy these days. Did you increase the RAM? The processor is still OK I should think.

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saturnian

Three of my notebooks are old Compaq Presario models that are all getting close to 10 years old, but I still use them regularly. They all kinda look the same. But, only 2 GB RAM. I don't even bother trying to run KDE Plasma or GNOME on these:

 

CQ56-219WM - https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c02636087/
CQ57-339WM - https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c03210811
CQ57-489WM - https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c03316666

 

All running Linux only. The last one (CQ57-489WM), I don't know if it's the processor or what but that one's the slowest of the three. I was mainly using it to test distros that are supposed to be lightweight. Now I have Debian Buster w/ LXQt and Openbox living on it.

 

Anyway, I think the 10-year rule is about right, and I don't know how much longer I'll be able to use these three notebooks. The CQ56 actually seems to be the fastest, and it's still a pleasure to use.

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securitybreach

Are you able to even browse websites on those? I know that the last time I tried to do so on a laptop with 2gb of ram, it would frequently lock when trying to browse today's net.

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

The 10 year rule is only a rough guideline I use to decide if it's worth upgrading or otherwise refurbishing a PC. It used to be that if you went back 10 years you were getting into truly obsolete stuff like 32 bit processors or IDE.

Going back 10 years now you can find decent Core 2 Duo stuff and it works pretty well with a lightweight distro. I doubt I'd spend much to upgrade though. For what you'd spend you could buy a decent Thinkpad with Ivy Bridge or better.

A 10 year old netbook is really an ugly proposition but they were never that speedy to begin with - even Windows 7 Starter would bog them down.

Edited by raymac46
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V.T. Eric Layton
19 hours ago, ebrke said:

I have a Lenovo laptop, G530, Intel Core2 Duo

 

I was never much of an Intel fan, but that Core2 Duo was a darn good cpu. I have a brand new one out in a box in my shop if anyone needs one. :)

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Hedon James
Posted (edited)
On 3/22/2020 at 3:01 PM, raymac46 said:

I have a few files dating back to 1997 but I don't need Windows 98 to read them. Old WPS (Microsoft Works) files can be read by Libre Office and even older WK4  (Lotus 1-2-3) files can be read by Gnumeric. Linux comes to the rescue again.

I had some WPD files (Word Perfect) but I converted them years ago to DOC so I could read them with Microsoft Office.

 

I had forgotten about Microsoft Works!  I actually liked Microsoft Works (circa Win98 or Windows Millenium Edition, a/k/a ME, era) and preferred it over Office.  Then Office blew up, took over, and Works disappeared.  Probably because Works was meant to be a "starter pack" to upgrade to Office, but ended up being good enough that no one was interested in paying for the "upgrade" to Office.

 

Fast forward to the last 10-15 years, and LibreOffice can do 90% (or possibly even more!) of what Office can do, and it's cross-platform for nearly every OS except Chrome/Android, and it's ISO compliant with Open Format Standards protocols, AND...(this is no small deal for most users), it's FREE (as in beer).  For the life of me, I just cannot figure out why LO isn't preferred as the de facto standard by most users.  Only the most esoteric special-use cases MAY require features in Office that LO cannot (yet) provide....and I'm being kind with that estimate.

Edited by Hedon James
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ebrke
21 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Looking at the specs it came with 3GB of RAM which is a bit skimpy these days. Did you increase the RAM? The processor is still OK I should think.

Nope, only thing modified is that the HDD had to be replaced in 2013.

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saturnian
On 3/22/2020 at 7:14 PM, securitybreach said:

Are you able to even browse websites on those? I know that the last time I tried to do so on a laptop with 2gb of ram, it would frequently lock when trying to browse today's net.

 

Yes, but with the CQ57-489WM I try not to have too many tabs open at one time. Like maybe 5 or less. With that machine, I've had some problems in the past with the browser (Firefox) locking up on me, but off the top of my head I can't recall which distros and DEs I was running on it at the time. The other two machines, they do fine with web browsing, surprisingly.

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saturnian

Anyway, I'm far from an expert when it comes to hardware, but for me those three notebooks definitely drive home the point that other factors besides RAM affect speed. I don't expect to be using them much longer, I'm gonna try to squeeze what I can out of 'em! But, yeah, I'll be surprised if they survive here much beyond the 10-year mark.

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

I have about 15 years of IT experience with the seniors in my neighborhood. When I started out, most of them had fairly well specd desktops running XP. In the early 10s these machines were given away and the seniors switched to Windows 7. But by and large they switched to netbooks or low end laptops with slow mechanical drives. These they tend to hold on to, despite a miserable experience. So many complaints about their computer slowing down and needing a tuneup - when it was slow to begin with.

They have discovered wifi and a fair number now have smartphones and tablets as well. Those remaining Windows users have bypassed Windows 8 and 8.1 and some have upgraded to Windows 10 or bought another laptop. Hopefully they are getting one with an SSD.

I used to get a lot of folks wanting to give me an old desktop. Nowadays nobody wants to donate an old laptop. Either they continue to use them or the unit went straight to the recycler.

Add to that the fact that many have the lowest cost and slowest Internet connection and sometimes it is painful trying to troubleshoot problems.

Many of these folks don't need a laptop as their only PC. A desktop would have been fine for them. Ironically the value priced laptop today is quite a different beast - even running Windows. A Ryzen processor and an SSD will be a powerful combination.

Edited by raymac46
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ebrke
Quote

Many of these folks don't need a laptop as their only PC. A desktop would have been fine for them.

Laptops have an advantage in size and weight, important if you're older.

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raymac46
3 hours ago, ebrke said:

Laptops have an advantage in size and weight, important if you're older.

Once you get a desktop installed I don't see how size and weight would be an issue. I have both and I use them interchangeably. The people I know who replaced their desktops often keep them tethered to the router by wire and on the same desk they had their previous hardware on. They got very cheap laptops and these in many cases were not as good as the desktop they replaced.

You can get a powerful desktop for what you often pay for a cheap laptop, assuming you can reuse your monitor, keyboard mouse and speakers.

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saturnian

I have 5 laptops (notebooks). Got great deals on each of them -- used machines, display models, or clearance models. I rotate, having any one or two booted up at a given time, but I use them only at my desk at home, with an ethernet connection. So I really use them as desktop computers. I'll be looking into getting a desktop pc next, though.

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raymac46

My late nemesis Lillian replaced a capable desktop with an all in one, and then a laptop. She got increasingly poor performance and disliked the laptop's keyboard so much she continued to use the original desktop keyboard and mouse - plugged into the laptop's USB ports.

I repurposed the desktop with Linux and gave it to a 90 year old lady who as far as I know still has it.

Where the desktop really shines is in graphics performance. Even a nice laptop like my ASUS Vivobook has APU based graphics that don't come close to a discrete graphics card in a desktop.

I have both laptops and desktops and enjoy both of them. Obviously you cannot take a desktop on holiday with you. If you recognize the limitations of a laptop when used as a desktop and it still works for you, great. Unfortunately many of my senior friends assumed that a laptop would work the same as a desktop for them, and they did not.

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Bookmem

I just got an HP Envy 360 which has Intel HD 620 graphics.  I've never been a "gamer" so graphics have never been a big concern to me but this seems to be pretty good.  I've had lasik surgery on both eyes so my vision is pretty good for an 80 yr old, but I just plain can't see much difference between 720 and 1080.  And I complain vigorously about people who want 4k.  To me people who stream in 4k are hogging bandwidth for no good reason whatever.  With all of the people, like me, who are being forced to stay home, some cities internet speeds have dropped by 40% with 4k streaming being the biggest culprit.

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securitybreach
28 minutes ago, Bookmem said:

I just got an HP Envy 360 which has Intel HD 620 graphics.  I've never been a "gamer" so graphics have never been a big concern to me but this seems to be pretty good.  I've had lasik surgery on both eyes so my vision is pretty good for an 80 yr old, but I just plain can't see much difference between 720 and 1080.  And I complain vigorously about people who want 4k.  To me people who stream in 4k are hogging bandwidth for no good reason whatever.  With all of the people, like me, who are being forced to stay home, some cities internet speeds have dropped by 40% with 4k streaming being the biggest culprit.

 

Well with higher resolution monitors, 720p can look blocky and cannot fill the monitors without stretching the picture.

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securitybreach

This may better explain the differences and show why low resolution is garbage on higher resolution monitors:

 

TV-screen-resolutions-480-720-1080-4K-8K

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Bookmem
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, securitybreach said:

This may better explain the differences and show why low resolution is garbage on higher resolution monitors:

 

TV-screen-resolutions-480-720-1080-4K-8K

The only thing that shows me is that 4k takes several times the bandwidth of 720 and yet the BEST res you get from broadcast TV is 720.  And 720 looks much better than what broadcast produced from the time I was 10 yrs old till I was in my 50s.  At this time, when so many of us are forced to stay at home that streaming is putting such a strain on the internet, I find it down right selfish to stream at res better than 720.  No amount of "explaining" can change that fact. I choose to believe my eyes rather than "explainations".

 

BTW, I have three 40" monitors about 6' from my recliner.  Two of them are 720 and the other 1080.  I have to stop and think about which is which.  There is no glaring differnce that makes it obvious.  And there is no way in you know what that you'll get me to waste money on a 4k monitor.

 

Edited by Bookmem

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Bookmem
4 hours ago, securitybreach said:

 

Well with higher resolution monitors, 720p can look blocky and cannot fill the monitors without stretching the picture.

Stretching the picture would only occur if you are viewing at a different aspect ratio.

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raymac46

1080p or 1080i works for me whether on a 15 inch screen or a 37 inch TV. I really don't have the deskspace for more than a 24 inch monitor. I have had cataract surgery so my vision is pretty good. The only gaming I do is with my Train Sims and they are fine at 1080p.

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securitybreach
10 hours ago, Bookmem said:

Stretching the picture would only occur if you are viewing at a different aspect ratio.

 

Yeah, that is why I said "cannot fill the monitors without stretching the picture" ;)

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