Reusing old PIII hardware

About a year ago my sister gave me an old laptop she didn’t want. For ages I have done nothing with it until now. Here is my story on how I am reusing old hardware to become something useful.

The laptop in question was a Dell Insperon 8100 laptop with the Intel Pentuim II-M 1Ghz CPU with a GForce 2 Go Mobile GPU with 32Mb of graphics RAM, 20Gb Hard Drive and 384Mb of main RAM, IEEE 1394 port, S Video port and a PS2 port. It also has a headphone jack, stereo speakers and a microphone jack.

A review from ZDNET dated August 2001 can be found here of the 1.1Ghz version of the CPU, the extra 100 Mhz was a big deal in those times, as this laptop CPU was the first mobile CPU to break the 1Ghz barrier. I remember when my old works (A software company) got a 1Ghz CPU laptop in and we was all amazed with it, I also remember that was a long week as I was upgrading our SBS Server from 4.5 to 2000.

I also got off her a 15″ Dell Monitor at the same time. The operating system on the laptop was Windows XP (The original OS was Windows 98SE, but the original CD’s have been lost)

I did have a spare USB keyboard and mouse, and the Laptop has 2 x USB 1 ports on the back along with the old Parallel port, a Serial port, a IR port, 10/100 Ethernet, 56k Modem, CDRW/DVD Rom, and 2 x PCMCIA ports. In the 2 expansion ports in the front is a battery (that’s no use, cant keep charge anymore) and a 3 1/2″ floppy drive.

Here is a pic of it all working :-

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The Screen on the laptop does work, but as the monitor is plugged in the back that’s what it is using. the USB Hub is one of my old ones and the tablet in the shot has nothing to do with the laptop.

Once I had cleaned it up (it was very dusty inside and the fans was making a funny noise) the laptop worked with no problems. The only thing I had to do was wipe the laptop as it had a load of virus’s and junk software installed then install a fresh copy Windows XP and upgrade that to SP3. Dell still has all the drivers for this laptop on it’s website so getting the hardware to work was very easy. Kudos to Dell.

This laptop obviously is never going to be going online.

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For about a year all this laptop was doing was running some security software for a security camera I have, but I have since retired that camera so thought what could I do with this old, but perfectly working laptop.

Well the first thing I did was install Libre Office on it, and use it as an offline backup of all my office needs.

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I use Libre Office as my offline office suite as I also use Synology Office that’s a web browser based office suite that runs on my Synology NAS and Libre Office is free and can run on Windows and Linux.

As my office needs are not that needy, IE only light word processing and spreadsheet work, this laptop is good enough to use as a backup device. It would be good for someone who just needs to do simple office work very easily.

The second thing I installed was Britannica Encyclopedia 2002 CD Rom Edition that I found on one of my old backup CD’s. I have lost the original one ages ago. This works as advertised (as it should since this laptop is from that period ! !). I know the info is out of date in the program but hey, it is still useful and brings back memories for me.

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The last thing I installed is Command and Conquer – The Last Decade. This includes all the C&C games from the first one all the way to C&C Generals – Zero Hour. All the games run fine (Obviously the C&C Generals and C&C Generals – Zero Hour only run at the minimum graphic details). If I try to run these games on any other PC I have, they simple run to fast as the next slowest PC I have is my old 2008 iMac.

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I have also installed my printer/scanner on the laptop, which is an Epson Stylus Office BX305FW. This was very easy to install as you can download the drivers from the Epson website. The rest of my PC’s connect to this printer via my wireless network.

Overall, I am happy with this laptop, its a good fail safe for my office docs, plays one of my favorite games of all time at a speed I can play it at and has an entire encyclopedia on it. Not bad for a laptop that’s only 1 year younger than my oldest niece ! !

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