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From The Chief Editor's Desk

Every now and again, we are all forced to update our equipment. The laptop I'm using to write this is a Lenovo G530. It was purchased new in 2008-ish, and has a 160GB HD, 3GB RAM, running on a dual core Intel processor. It originally came with Windows 7, which was quickly replaced with PCLinuxOS KDE 4. It now runs PCLinuxOS Xfce fairly well. But, after 10 years, it's really starting to show its age.

Yes, I do tend to "push" things a bit. Currently running on this laptop is Firefox Quantum with 16 open tabs, Scribus for the magazine layout, HexChat, Thunar with three different tabs, xfce4-terminal, and Dropbox ... and that's just the things you can see. There's a whole host of other programs running in the background, or things you might not think to include, like the wireless interface, pulseaudio, data and time panel plugin, battery monitor, clipboard, a CPU load monitor, and all the files necessary for the Xfce desktop. All said and done, that isn't too bad for a 10 year old laptop with only 3GB of RAM. Every once in a while I'll push the laptop too hard, and things will start to crawl when too much data is written to the swap partition and has to be swapped into and out of physical memory.

One of the things I've missed on this laptop for all those years was a memory card reader slot. Whenever I need to use a card reader, I have to pull out my USB memory card reader, and hook it up via a USB hub (the USB ports are placed too close together to be able to use the USB memory card reader with my wireless USB mouse receiver). It's not a perfect laptop, but it has served me well for nearly a decade. Plus, at the time that I bought it, it was at the upper limit of what I could afford at the time. The sale that had on it helped, too.

Well, by next month's issue, that will all change. I've managed to buy a "newer" laptop. It's pretty much the same laptop that Meemaw purchased last October, and you can read her new laptop story here. Just like Meemaw's, it's a Lenovo IdeaPad 320 with a quad core AMD A12 processor, 8GB RAM, a 15.6" screen, and a 1TB HD. Plus, it has a memory card reader slot! It also has Bluetooth 4.0, and a number keypad (I've never had THAT on a laptop before!).

I purchased it on Ebay from a college student who claimed that it "wasn't fast enough to run some of the programs he needed to run." My translation of that statement was that he played games and the IdeaPad isn't designed to be a gaming laptop. I also knew if my 10 year old laptop could do all that I've asked it to do over the years, the IdeaPad would be more than sufficient for my needs. Plus, Meemaw has had no problems or complaints with her laptop.

I lucked out and won the bid on the IdeaPad, getting it for a $295 winning bid (only $5 less than my "max" bid). On that particular day, Ebay put out a 15% off coupon, good for any one item purchased that day. So, in the end, I ended up paying only $255 for the laptop, after applying the coupon. It also helped that shipping was free. It wasn't supposed to arrive until September 5, but ended up arriving on September 1. Great job, U.S. Postal Service!

It came with Windows 10 on it, which the college student and previous owner spent most of a day restoring before shipping it to me. I did boot into it, but after more than a decade running Linux, Win10 just wasn't for me. Some things were just laughable in the way they were implemented, other things "felt" like the same ol' Windows, and yet other aspects of it felt very alien and foreign.

So, I've installed the community remaster of PCLinuxOS Xfce, produced by Ika. Windows 10 is a distant memory on the IdeaPad. Admittedly, I used Meemaw's article as a guide, since I had never dealt with UEFI and Secure Boot. I also remembered she had some "tricks" to get the wifi going. Just as with Meemaw's laptop, my touchpad does not work. But, since I hate touchpads (and avoid their use as much as possible), I'm OK with it not working. I much prefer a wireless USB mouse, anyways.

But, since my old laptop is still working, I had to transfer all my "important" files to the new laptop, 16GB at a time. All I had available was a 16GB SD memory card, so I'd fill it up, then transfer those files to the second data partition on the new laptop (I set up a 30GB root partition, a 16GB swap partition, a 275GB /home partition, and two additional 275GB partitions, named data1 and data2) by moving the SD memory card between the two machines. Then, repeat that process until all of the files are transferred. Rinse, lather, repeat. Rinse, lather, repeat.

The slow part of that process is writing the files to the SD card on the old laptop, using the USB memory card reader and USB hub. Transfer speeds were rather slow. The fast part of the process was moving the files from the SD card to the new computer. The card reader built into the new computer is much, much faster than the combination of the old USB memory card reader and USB hub on the old computer, by a factor of at least three times faster.

So far, I've only done minimal customizations to Xfce on the new laptop. It's going to take me some time to get everything like I like it. That includes setting up scripts and Thunar custom actions, getting my layout environment setup like I like, and all the other tweaks I like to perform with Xfce to create things just the way I like.

Pleased with the new laptop would be putting it mildly. The new laptop is more than noticeably faster than the older laptop it is replacing. Plus, with 8GB of RAM, I should find myself trapped in the swap partition bottleneck a LOT less. With the 1TB hard drive, I shouldn't ever (or at least for a long, long time) be worried about running out of storage space.

By the way, this month's cover (designed by Meemaw) commemorates the 115th birthday of the ice cream cone, invented in 1903. Although the history of the ice cream cone is debated as to its origins, all of us can agree that it's hard to pass up this tasty treat during the heat of summer. Here's Wikipedia's entry for the ice cream cone, if you want to read up a bit more about it.

Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity and prosperity.

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