Tumbleweeeeeee!

By   2015-11-12

It’s been a while, but for good reason. After my openSUSE had bitten the dust I had to reanimate it. Cause? Rather embarrassing one: I managed to fill the whole main volume, namely: / (read: root). The system collapsed in effect and had to be installed from zero. I was rather visibly bummed out by this, but within limits: a big upgrade was just around the corner.

Remember my ramblings about that time not being the right one? Well, the time came and according to the promise I gave to myself…

I’ve bought a new (I mean: “refurbished”) laptop!

Didn’t see that coming, did you?

It’s a DELL E6410, so I’m still a couple of generations behind, but I’m deliberately skipping the Exx20. I had an opportunity to use those and I hated the keyboards and touch-pads. Don’t ask me why, just did. Personal taste. Also, after reading the specs… going to Core i5 from a Centrino Duo is a jump good enough; It’s got headroom for years to come.

And now, all the things I’ve noticed so far:

  1. The animations are finally crisp and smooth on an HD screen;
  2. When un-docking, the music no longer stutters;
  3. The weight feels more or less the same;
  4. The new one is noticeably quieter, even when the fan has to spin faster. The PSU is louder than the computer! 🙂
  5. Memory:
    1. It has 4GiB of RAM since day 0, unlike the D630 that needed an upgrade to get there.
    2. The memory itself is now DDR3 instead of DDR, so, yeah. One step for man…

The new and the old

This was a perfect opportunity to learn new things in practice! As many of us know, BIOS is the granddad of booting up your PC and it’s age really shows. It’s successor UEFI is the new industry standard and I’ve read all the promises and nice tidbits, but had only basic hands on experience. I worked with UEFI based PCs and laptops at the clients offices but that was always in a hurry (and with Windows so it didn’t count as much in my book).

Now was the time to get my hands dirty and play a bit with it. But wait, it gets better! A closely related standard is GPT, the new way of organizing things on the drive (be it HDD or SSD). It goes away with lots of ugly hacks and legacy ideas, mainly the MBR (master boot record) that loves to get corrupted and has no backup. Good luck repairing that pimple late into the night without the proper tools like a Linux Live CD. And even if you happen to have such a rescue disk, you still need to know how to use it. The problem affects any operating system that hosts its bootloader in MBR, so a failing drive may refuse to boot Windows as well.

Another cool thing is that all partitions are now treated as equal. When I first begun my adventure with Linux I had to learn what primary and extended partitions were. With Windows I managed to have 3, 4 partitions tops and get away with it. But with Linux I had to create a dual-boot setup with meant slicing the cake even more. And that in turn forced me use the not elegant solution of Extended partitions, that can host logical volumes. It works as a container to put more parts in. It was confusing for me as a newbie why the partitioning program made me do that whole volume dance on the hard drive. GTP has none of this nonsense: all partitions are just partitions and you can have a whole bunch of them.

I actually remember having to setup a FAT partition so Mandriva and Windows XP could exchange data. Oh, that was eons ago, now Linux has really good NTFS support and as far as my use-cases go, it works pretty transparently.

The next big change is the architecture: I used 64-bit hardware for years, the first being an Athlon 64. But this is the first time I’ve deployed a pure 64-bit operating system (with the exception of Windows 7 64-bit I installed because I confused the DVDs). Even if I didn’t want the change (which I wanted) options are running out: Novell pulled the plug on 32-bit openSUSE as it should. AFAIK this does not affect Tumbleweed. One thing or the other: 4GiB+ RAM, be prepared for me; I’m gonna fill you with good stuff!

Feeling lighter?

This whole move was possible, because in recent weeks I managed to remove insane amounts of legacy data. This included decommissioning dozens of old CDs/DVDs that I had previously used for backups and “driver disks”. Hey, don’t laugh! In the early 00″ that was the preferred way of keeping your drivers and utilities safe from disasters and reformatting. We didn’t have broadband and flash media was yet to come. I still had a small box with the leftovers of the leftovers. Now I have only bootable ISO’s + the “lost causes” to deal with and this will mark the end of optical media at my place (with the exception of games that will stay in their shrine).

More awesomeness to come (I hope)!

/tangodelta