Hardware Check

Before I dive deep into the quest for the right Linux distribution (a matter obviously solved, but undescribed as of yet), I would like to accustom the dear reader with some technical specifications & requirements, i.e. my old laptop. This is just so that the dear reader can approximate whether any solutions provided here may work for her/himself as well.

“There is no such thing as a free breakfast”? Yes, there is! I got a laptop for free. I guess it was state-of-the-art when it was produced and issued, and I must say it still isn’t so bad, compared with what, for example, my then girlfriend was using about two years ago. Lo! and behold: The Dell LatitudeTM C610.

Dell.com provides a spec sheet for those that are generally interested in such things. However, since this is an attempt to get close to a sensible use of Linux, I will do a very simple thing in order to let you know my system specs: post the output of the respective cat commands:

  • cat /proc/cpuinfo (Info about the CPU)
  • fdisk -l | grep Disk (Hard disk info)
  • cat /proc/meminfo (Info about RAM)
  • lspci (Info about PCI slots, etc.)

All these commands can simply be types into a Linux terminal (such as xterm) and will output all the relevant information.

So, here is the output (in abridged form, omitting empty rows and “not so interesting” information; this is targeted at newbies, remember):

cpuinfo

vendor_id: GenuineIntel
cpu family: 6
model: 11
model name: Intel(R) Pentium(R) III Mobile CPU      1000MHz
stepping: 1
cpu MHz: 1000.000
cache size: 512 KB

So, we’re basically dealing with a P3, 1.000 MHz CPU.

fdisk -l | grep Disk

Disk /dev/hda: 10.0 GB, 10056130560 bytes

This gives us the overall size of the hard disk, a rather smallish 10GB disk.

cat /proc/meminfo

MemTotal:       250656 kB

cat /proc/meminfo gives you all the information about your memory you could possibly need, but as this post is exclusively concerned with the basic system information, I simply posted the first output line: a meager 256MB.

lspci

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 82830 830 Chipset Host Bridge (rev 02)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82830 830 Chipset AGP Bridge (rev 02)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801CA/CAM USB Controller #1 (rev 01)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev 41)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801CAM ISA Bridge (LPC) (rev 01)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801CAM IDE U100 Controller (rev 01)
00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corporation 82801CA/CAM AC’97 Audio Controller (rev 01)
00:1f.6 Modem: Intel Corporation 82801CA/CAM AC’97 Modem Controller (rev 01)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon Mobility M6 LY
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: 3Com Corporation 3c905C-TX/TX-M [Tornado] (rev 78)
02:01.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1420 PC card Cardbus Controller
02:01.1 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1420 PC card Cardbus Controller

Yep, this is a lot of information, but it may become really handy really quickly, once you start to look for drivers. Of course this is a few lines too many for our purposes, but it gives you interesting information: there is only 1 USB controller (yikes, it still works for me, I’m using a PS/2 mouse), the sound chip is a genuine Intel chip, but at least we get an ATI graphics chip.

So, I’ve learned a few new commands for the terminal, and something about the hardware I’m using. That’s having dug deep enough in Linux for now, I’ll present the rest of the info from the spec sheet:

  • 14.1″ XGA TFT LCD display (1024×768 px, 16.7 million colours)
  • 56k internal modem (hm…)
  • Synaptics touchpad (2 buttons only)
  • an infrared port (ah, yesterday’s technology in today’s news)
  • a DVD ROM (woohoo!)

Additionally, I’m connected to the WWW via a cheapo WiFi USB stick (the Linux command lsusb (“list all USB devices”) calls it Belkin Components F5D7050 v4000 Wireless Adapter).

So, as you can see, transforming this hardware into a smoothly running, fun-to-work-with toy won’t be (or rather wasn’t) easy. Find out how I’ve done it in the next post (coming to your screen soon).

Until then,
ALL HAIL THE VECTOR!
Over and out.

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