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Repurpose an Old Laptop for Linux

repurpose an old laptop

Recently, I decided to repurpose an old laptop to run Linux, mainly to experiment with SDRconnect. Here is how that went.

So, I am a Windows guy who has dabbled in Linux over the years, mostly running Ubuntu in a Virtual Machine. So, I installed SDRconnect in an Ubuntu VM, but for some reason performance was terrible. Lots of noise was added to the signal. I suspect the VM was not processing the USB data cleanly.

Then, I tried a different approach.

Most of us probably have an old computer lying around unused. I discovered, in my wine room of all places, an old Toshiba laptop with Windows 10. This wonderful Toshiba Satellite M300 was sold to me (cheaply) by my oldest son in 2013. My M300 came out in 2008 featuring an Intel Core2 Duo T5800 running at 2 GHz. That should be good enough, I thought.

So, I did a dual-boot Linux Mint installation with my legacy BIOS providing support. Linux Mint is basically Ubuntu with a decent GUI on top. Dual-boot installation is relatively painless as long as you have less than four partitions in use on a legacy BIOS.

If you can repurpose an old laptop for Linux, I suggest you give it a try, but with a word of caution.

Repurpose an Old Laptop for Linux – But Check Your CPU

My M300 Linux Mint installation works great for normal “office” type software. But, to my chagrin, I found that the old Intel T5800 CPU did not have enough horsepower to run SDRconnect smoothly.

On my regular PC’s using i5 or i7 of various vintages, SDRconnect consumes 8% to 10% CPU performance, which is fine for very smooth operation. But on the old Toshiba laptop, CPU consumption jumped to 77% to 82%! SDRconnect ran, but hiccupped often. This was true in both Linux Mint and Windows 10.

I think the days of repurposing machines with less than i5 or equivalent has passed for heavy duty processing.

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