512 MB of RAM in a Brown Paper Envelope

November 2nd, 2006

The final hardware piece of the Dell Latitude c600 puzzle arrived in the mail today. I had started to get the basic parts set up with only 64 MB of RAM, but it just wasn’t enough to do much. Firefox took up so much memory that after 15 minutes of browsing the system was stuck paging memory continuously in and out of the swap partition. This made the whole system utterly unusable and usually resulted in one or more processes crashing with out of memory errors. Today that all changed.

I opened up the mailbox to find a bunch of junk mail and one conspicuously poorly-packed package from the New England area. The homemade envelope was made out of what felt like brown grocery bag paper taped together at the ends. There was a tear in the paper and the green circuit board and some black chips were visible and exposed. I had read a negative comment from one individual who had bought RAM from the same seller I had on eBay. I guess his RAM worked, but he was upset at the packing materials used. There was a no DOA guarantee, so that was good enough for me. I popped open the back of the laptop and installed the new RAM sticks. It booted (which is a good sign) and everything seems to work perfectly!

I left the seller some glowing feedback and am now on my way to learning more about Arch Linux (the more I learn the more I like) and to tweaking this laptop. Browsing the web on this 700 MHz Pentium 3 feels just as fast as it did on the 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 Celeron (Dell Inspiron 1000) that Krissy is now using. This c600 has better support for hibernating, suspending, and sleeping which makes it more portable. It runs cooler, too. It tops out at 55 degrees C under normal circumstances, and I’ve seen it hit 58 degrees C when recompiling Xorg (but only briefly, and when one of the vents was obstructed by my knee). The Pentium 4 Celeron would run at between 52 and 55 degrees C under no load and would sometimes get up around 80 degrees C under heavy load. That makes for quite a toasty lap, let me tell you!

That’s two great deals now that I’ve gotten on eBay in the past two weeks!

7 Responses to “512 MB of RAM in a Brown Paper Envelope”

  1. Randy says:

    How is you hard drive search?

  2. Shawn Dowler says:

    Are you asking about the seek time for the hard drive I already have? I am not searching for a hard drive at the present.

    The only real info I have as far as performance details are concerned is the output from hdparm:

    Timing cached reads: 432 MB in 2.01 seconds = 214.63 MB/sec
    Timing buffered disk reads: 56 MB in 3.01 seconds = 18.58 MB/sec

  3. Randy says:

    I thought that your hard drive that you got wouldn’t work with that laptop.

  4. Shawn Dowler says:

    The problem was related to a different laptop and a different hard drive. I have a laptop with a defective keyboard. I wanted to move the HD of the defective laptop to one that worked. After I got Linux all set up on the HD (the working laptop has no floppy, cd, or network card), then I went to put it into the working one and it was too tall. But that was more for fun anyway. This is a work machine I built.

  5. Tommy says:

    So what’s the project grand total?

  6. Tommy says:

    Hey weird. My previous post I have another sentece that didn’t show up because it was interpreted as HTML. I had a less than symbol on the next sentence that read less than $50 or less than $100. Interesting to note: don’t use less than signs unless you plan on closing them. Or you can use the < entitiy if you prefer.

  7. Shawn Dowler says:

    Let’s add it up:
    Laptop: Free
    Hard Drive: $20
    512 MB RAM: $38
    Wireless mini PCI card: $25
    Stupid 4″ cable: $10

    Total: $93

    Not too bad considering that it is just as useful to me as the first laptop we got, and that one cost over $700!

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