Second Life for a Dead Windows Computer


It was during last years journey from Florida to Iowa via a rented Tour Bus that my mother’s laptop finally died. It was a Compaq Presario V2000 sporting an AMD Turion64 bit processor. It came out in 2006 and had all the bells and whistles at that time -flash card slots, WIFI, DVD burner, and a very nice widescreen LCD. Unfortunately, it ran Windows XP, and my parents who are seniors, just couldn’t deal with all the requests for upgrades and found the virus protection difficult to manage. After a year in their house, the computer which ran well at purchase, was gummed up with spyware and took over 5 minutes to boot up.

When I looked at it, I realized the hard drive had failed -possibly from spinning continuously when the computer was on. As I had a replacement 40g hard drive that I had salvaged from a Sony Vaio that just died within a month past warranty, I swapped it out and reloaded Windows and all the drivers from the rescue disks I purchased from the HP support site. This was quite painful, but after I got everything reloaded, the computer ran, albeit sluggishly. I was about to give it back to my mother when suddenly it began to give me the blue screen of death (BSOD).

I looked into the problem and soon found that this particular computer, having a 64 bit processor, required drivers that were compatible only with Windows Service Pack 2 -when updated to Service Pack 3, it crashed. I scrubbed the hard drive and did a complete new install and switched off the update function. Strangely, Windows kept nagging me to update to Service Pack 3, and I couldn’t keep the requests from popping up. Finally, Windows upgraded itself without asking (I think I had stepped away and not turned down a request for an upgrade). This rendered the computer unusable again.

I decided to take Windows off and convert the laptop to Linux. I researched it a bit, and found that Ubuntu plays nice with a wide variety of laptops and I downloaded the OS Install to a DVD on my trusty Macbook Pro. Loading the OS was pretty straightforward. Getting the WIFI to work was a little tricky until I figured out how to download a system applet that lets Ubuntu use Windows drivers for the Wifi Card.

I also upgraded the memory to 2gigabytes. The computer now runs like a dream. It’s so stable, I use it as the “rumpus” laptop for carrying around the house or work. It does everything my Macbook does with regard to basic functions -Office software, photography, Facebook, Twitter, and email. I downloaded the 64bit beta version of the Flashplayer, and now I can watch Hulu without a problem.

The incredible thing is that this computer is about 3-4 years old and it runs without crashing. I have had no need for virus protection software. I purchased an extended battery and it runs 5 hours without stopping. There is no way I will ever purchase a Windows based product again willingly.