Skip to main content

Windows XP on Dell L400

It's been a while since I posted anything - I'll plead the pressures of work and social life as my excuse. In the meantime I have picked up a little old Dell L400. This machine is about 1.6KG in weight and has a Pentium III processor running at 700MHz. I've had to put in a 20GB hard disk (that I had lying around) and it came with 256MB of RAM and two batteries. Not bad at all.

Initially I installed Win2k on it and was unimpressed by it's performance. I had also tried to get varies different versions of Linux running on it (more on this to follow). I eventually got SuSE 10.2 running happily on it and all was good. Somehow though... I got it into my head to install Windows XP on this machine. I checked the minimum specifications for XP and found them to be well under the spec of this laptop - something like a 300MHz processor and 128MB of RAM or something similar.

The initial install went very smoothly. It was also pleasingly fast. I was very happy. I continued to be very happy as the install stayed smooth and the system ran well. After a fair bit of time (after all it is only a 700MHz processor) the install completed. The only thing that wasn't working was the sound card. It had correctly detected it but the driver wasn't working. I had already downloaded the drivers from Dell on another machine, copied them across and away I went.

Patching this little machine took a long time. Probably longer than I'd hoped. There were 100 or so patches to be installed so I wasn't too unhappy with the time it took.

My biggest concern with this machine was RAM availability. With only 256MB I was worried I'd be swapping all the time and this would make the machine unusable. By killing all the themes, disabling many services and pruning where possible, the machine runs with a RAM footprint of 89MB! And it runs really well. I've installed the Portable Applications package from www.portableapps.com in both the lite and full forms. This gives me a stack of great software to use and I recommend you check it out. Great for a USB install or just for those lower end PCs you might have floating around. The L400 runs the portable version of OpenOffice Writer well and its very usable. I've also installed NetGear software for my WG111v2 USB wireless device. It works well and means this cheap little notebook is very versatile.

The screen is bright and clear and I find I can use it without problem for some time. The keyboard likewise, has a lovely tactile feel to it. If you're looking for a cheap, lightweight notebook for running around with the L400 is a good choice. The batteries only last about 2 hours, which is what Dell indicate it will last for. For about $200 this laptop was a great buy. I actually carry it in the same bag as my D620 and don't notice the extra weight!

I'm currently installing Ubuntu Linux on it - I'll write more about this adventure tomorrow.

Comments

  1. I have a similar config L400 and got rid of the Win2K and tried to get it to work with Fluxbuntu.

    My Hard Disk started acting up (clicking noises like a metronome) and I now am looking at a USB Boot or a Solid State Drive Hack for this little jewel of a machine.

    USB Boot is not an option on this because the BIOS did not support it.

    Any help is appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sudheendra,

    I replaced the HDD in my L400 pretty much straight away with a 40GB Western Digital drive. If you don't have the external CDROM/DVD then here's what I recommend: get a notebook disk drive, an adapter for it to IDE and stick the disk in a desktop machine or something similar. Install Fluxbuntu on it and then transplant the drive into your L400. GNU/Linux will easily accommodate the hardware difference, supply the correct drivers and away you go.

    Failing that, I'd suggest eBay to try and find an external CDROM that suits the L400. There are still a few around I believe. I've got a upgrade my for L400 just ready to go in shortly - I just need to make sure it'll support an 80 GB HDD. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete

Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Windows 10 Enterprise Eval - gotchas

After an annoying turn of events where my Windows 10 Enterprise USB drive failed, attempts to install Win10 onto a computer failed miserably. I turned to the net and managed to get my hands on Microsoft's Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation. I have an enterprise key so I thought - cool! Here's the opportunity to get it going and to then upgrade the license later. Full install, patched etc and all is swell. Except when I try to upgrade. I straight up tried changing the licence key only to get a variety of errors, most of which are pertaining to the activation system being unavailable. The I try this: https://winaero.com/blog/upgrade-windows-10-evaluation-to-full-version-easily/ but it doesn't work either. Next I'll try this: h ttp://www.edugeek.net/forums/windows-10/174594-upgrading-windows-10-enterprise-90-evaluation-full.html And if all else fails, in goes the bootable USB I've now created. If only I'd had this in the first instance I would not be writing t

Fixing a black screen after doing a Kali Linux update

Kali Linux is a rolling Linux distribution designed for security and penetration work. You can find details on it here: www.kali.org . We run this excellent product for a range of different security work and it's been great. I built the image in VMplayer, then shared it to the team and we've all been at it since. A recent update broke it though - black screen, no network and completely unresponsive. There are lots of posts about similar things - mostly to do with graphics adaptors, however, we found that executing the following at a root prompt fixed it. But how to get to the root prompt from a blank screen? Linux has a number of terminals available to the user - most of us use the graphical one to do our day to day, but you can access a command line prompt without much trouble. Simply hold CTRL-ALT and then F2 or F3 down at the same time and it drops you to a command line login. BOOM. Time to fix it up. For me, and for the other fellas in the team, all it too was to

Plone - the open source Content Management System - a review

One of my clients, a non-profit, has a lot of files on it's clients. They need a way to digitally store these files, securely and with availability for certain people. They also need these files to expire and be deleted after a given length of time - usually about 7 years. These were the parameters I was given to search for a Document Management System (DMS) or more commonly a Content Management System (CMS). There are quite a lot of them, but most are designed for front facing information delivery - that is, to write something, put it up for review, have it reviewed and then published. We do not want this data published ever - and some CMS's make that a bit tricky to manage. So at the end of the day, I looked into several CMS systems that looked like they could be useful. The first one to be reviewed was OpenKM ( www.openkm.com ). It looked OK, was open source which is preferable and seemed to have solid security and publishing options. Backing up the database and upgradin