Mar 19, 2012

Checking an old computer health

One day you need to buy a second hand laptop or try upgrade an old desktop machine. Here's what you can try to check the health of the computer.

Get a Linux live CD or USB (pen drive). Doesn't matter the distro whether it is a sophisticated one or the most simple one with GUI like Puppy, Slitaz or Damn Small Linux. Even a smaller ones with only terminal is also ok, but this require a longer strategy since we need to burden the computer a bit with installation.

Insert the CD/USB pen drive, fire up the computer or hard-boot it. Many computer will boot from either ones. If not, you can tell the CMOS to boot from one of them. Some CMOS tell us we need to press F8 or F12 for selections of drive, others us to change the default value. We can get into CMOS by pressing Del or F2 or Ctr+Alt+Esc or whatever shown on the screen. The CMOS will tell you that.

When you get the Linux live CD/USB on, open a terminal (press alt+F2 type xterm or click on the menu). Do one or all of these:

$ lspci
$ dmesg

Either one should produce lists of hardware and its addresses. There may be one or two errors, but this is NORMAL. Your kernel might not cover all chipsets available in every computer that has been produced.

If you want to be convinced, try to install the live CD/USB. This will burden the (IDE) bus and all the hardware but not to overload it. First, try install on the hard drive. If everything goes fine without error, then the computer is fine. If it fails or produce plenty I/O errors, the hard drive or the IO bus (main board) may have a problem. Wanna be sure? Install the system into a(nother) USB pen drive. If installation goes fine, the hardware is fine, but you need to get a new hard drive.

If installing on a(nother) USB disk also fails or produce many errors, then the main board is old enough to be disposed. However, you still can use this kind of machine for daily use, actually. Try install a mini distro such those three I mentioned. They are small sized and provide good GUI that you can safely browse internet or write an article. Small distro doesn't exhaust your mainboard, but passing quiet executions to produce what you want for daily works.

That's today's share.

No comments:

Post a Comment