Upgrading RAM memory on the Toshiba Tecra 8000

Thursday, 31 August 2006

I have though about upgrading the memory on my Tecra 8000 laptop for some time. Right now I have two 64MB SODIMMs installed in the two available memory banks, but this is just barely enough for a “modern” system. Right now I have the old Windows 2000 installed, and it’s not enough. Even when I had Arch Linux installed, 128MB RAM was not quite enough to run GNOME, which is why I used Fluxbox instead. So today I placed the order.

Yet one might wonder whether more memory is really worth the investment? Well, the 128MB pc66 SODIMMs required cost €74, which is quite acceptable compared to the value of the laptop. I could probably use pc100 modules as well, and save a little money there, as they are cheaper. But since I’m ordering online, I really *must* have complete assurance that the modules will work, or else it may end up costing me more time and money than it’s worth.

But I also bought a new hard drive for €70 just a few days ago, which adds to the cost. Is the upgrade worth the total sum of €144? No, I don’t think so. But this is not the way I look at it. The hard drive can just as easily be removed again and with a special casing be used as an external storage device. So whenever the laptop becomes unusable, for reasons other than hard disk failure, I can easily salvage the drive and use it just fine without the laptop.

I have never removed/installed SODIMMs before, so should be interesting to see if I can do it without breaking anything. One thing old hardware is good for: learning!

[UPDATE]
Read more about how the memory upgrade is going over HERE

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Toshiba Tecra 8000 with Toshiba MK4032GAX works!

Monday, 28 August 2006

Well, I bought the new 2.5″ 40GB drive today, and am very pleased to say that it works great! I did have a little trouble getting it going at first, but I’m not sure why that was. Maybe the connector was not properly connected, whatever. Anyway, it all works just fine now. Not only does the laptop feel a little bit faster thanks to the replacement, but this hard drive also produces much less noise. For completeness, here are the relevant specs of my laptop in case anyone else wants to try this: Pentium II 400 Mhz, Intel 440BX. However, first a warning: you are responsible for your own hardware. So if it does not work for you, then I am afraid that is your problem and not mine.


Buying a notebook in the Netherlands without Windows XP pre-installed

Monday, 28 August 2006

As the title suggests, this post is for all my fellow countrymen looking for a laptop that does not come preinstalled with any software. It is extremely difficult to find PC hardware stores in this country, but also in many other countries, that will sell you a computer without Windows XP. But I finally found a webshop here in the Netherlands that sells “barebone” Asus, Compal, Gigabyte and MSI notebooks. And much to my surprise, they allow their customers to decide for themselves whether they want Windows XP installed!

The store is called laptops4u* (*see update below), and while I am not currently planning to buy a laptop, if I ever do decide to buy one, there is a good chance it will be from this store (unless I choose a Macbook of course). My only problem is that you *must* buy the pixel guarantee, which will cost 49 euros extra.

I say “must”, because if you _don’t_ buy this guarantee, you will invariably receive the next defective laptop to be returned by the other person who _did_ buy the extra guarantee. And I think the amount of money you are paying for the laptop ought to be more than enough, to get a pixel-perfect screen! But maybe that’s just me.

[UPDATE]
The link to the laptops4u store is no longer working, as they have gone bankrupt. Thus, I have removed it.


Only Sony

Saturday, 26 August 2006

Less than three years ago I bought a Sony television, for well over €500,-
The model in question is called KV25FX30, which apparantly is Sony’s way of saying “25 inch screen”.

Then something truly amazing happened. It broke. For no apparant reason, so I sent it over to be repaired. Allthough it is no longer covered by the warranty, I did not expect the repair to cost too much as it is still an almost brand new TV. Well it certainly looks brand new anyway. Then, after three weeks, we get a call from a technician, telling us what this thing is going to cost us: €270,-

Excuse me? Two hundred and seventy euros? I don’t even want to know how much that is in US dollars. But if you want to know, it’s THIS MUCH! A quick search revealed that this is MORE than what the TV is worth. A complete write-off, in less than three years! That’s amazing.

But this is not our first Sony TV. We had another one before this one, which was outlasted by every other TV we have owned: a Philips and two Panasonics.

And then I remembered the news. Dell recently recalled 4mln batteries, and shortly thereafter Apple recalls 1.8mln batteries. Guess what they all have in common? They’re all made by Sony! And which company installed a rootkit on computers, when you played one of their CDs? Again, Sony!

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m starting to see a nasty pattern here. Or maybe it’s because I’m just very angry right now, I don’t know.


The new hard drive

Saturday, 26 August 2006

After some searching on the web, I have discovered that buying a new original 10GB replacement for the broken hard disk drive would cost me more than the laptop itself is now worth, as I suspected. This is not an option.

But having taken a closer look at the “caddy” containing the drive, a newer drive should fit. It will be thinner than this one, but as long as the corner holes for the screws are in the same place, it should be fine.

I have also searched for info on hard drive capacity limitations. I am now almost 100% sure that the laptop can utilize hard drives with a capacity up to 137GB. Since the 40GB drive I have selected falls well within this limit, it looks like all possible obstacles preventing me from buying this thing are gone.

The day after tomorrow, I shall purchase the new drive and see how it goes.


Toshiba Tecra 8000 hard disk drive failure

Friday, 25 August 2006

I own a Tecra 8000 laptop, a dusty old thing. But with it’s 400 Mhz Pentium processor, 128MB RAM and 10GB hard disk drive, it is actually quite acceptable for e-mailing, surfing and blogging. And even more so when you run the i686 optimized Arch Linux distribution, as I did. But today this changed. The hard disk drive failed completely, I could not access it anymore in any way. Fiddlesticks! Well ok, it happens, it’s an old laptop after all. And I have backups of all important files, thankfully. So, I decided to yank it out.

It’s a 10GB 2.5″ toshiba drive. Removing it was very easy to do, so installing something else should be easy too. I am thinking about buying a 40GB replacement, also from toshiba. A 5400 RPM drive with 8MB cache, which should cost me around €70. If that works, I expect it will perform slightly better. There will probably be plenty more bottlenecks though, to prevent any spectacular improvements. But if, on the other hand, I must use the original 10GB drive, then I will have a much bigger problem. Because they are hard to find and extremely expensive (relatively speaking).

We shall see.

[UPDATE]
The toshiba hard drive works! See also this post for the exact model.


Arch Linux: Pango-CRITICAL error and no fonts in GNOME

Sunday, 20 August 2006

I recently upgraded the whole Arch Linux installation on my laptop. Everything went well, untill I rebooted and found that all fonts in GDM had suddenly turned into rectangles. The whole of gnome appeared to be afflicted, since starting gnome-font-properties from the CLI immediately revealed the same problem. And also a lot of “Pango-CRITICAL: bladiebladiebla” errors. Fortunately, I was using Fluxbox at the time, so all the non-gnome stuff was working just fine, which made the repair much easier.

After some searching on the Arch forums, I found a solution. As root execute the following command:

# pango-querymodules > /etc/pango/pango.modules

And that fixed it.