Updated: September 27, 2021
If for some reason, the title of this article looks familiar, and you think you've seen this before, you are not mistaken. You have. Just a few shorts weeks back, I wrote an article slash review of my attempt to boot the latest edition of KDE neon on my 2010 HP Pavilion, a laptop that had, for a brief period, lost ability to start new Linux distros, most likely due to some incompatibility in the kernel vis-a-vis its old Nvidia card. Now that this issue has been rectified and I'm rather pleased with the results of the test, I want to try another experiment.
Today on the menu, I will do exactly the same thing I did last time, except, I'll do it on an even older machine. This shall be my LG RD510 machine, currently running MX Linux quite successfully, I must add. It also has an Nvidia card, tied to the legacy branch of drivers, Core 2 Duo processor, and a slower 5,400rpm disk. Will it be able to cope with a modern operating system and all that? Let's commence to check.
Setting up shop
Neon 5.22 booted fine, no problems (using Nouveau by default). I connected to Wireless - the old machine has a dual-band card, so it can work in the 5GHz range too. I like using old hardware with nifty tricks, like my ancient Nokia E6 phone, which also has a dual-band Wireless. Anyway. Installation, partitioning, full disk encryption.
The whole process didn't take much, only about 15 minutes, plus another 2-3 for the whole reboot cycle. Not that much slower from the i5 first-gen & 7,200rpm disk combo on the Pavilion. And yup, it works, all the bits and pieces, including the pre-boot encryption challenge and whatnot. Just compare this to some other other operating systems, cough cough.
Twelve years of solitude
The overall experience isn't majestic - but it's far from being horrible. Things work just fine, including the plethora of various online challenges, like media streaming playback. No great worries, except the CPU revving up quite a bit. I downloaded the Kubuntu Driver Manager, and manually updated its index, and then I was able to grab and configure the 340.xx drivers. The only difference to my previous experiment is that here, the boot sequence resorted to the low-res + Nvidia splash thing, which I didn't see on the Pavilion. But like the previous endeavor, things went fine. The laptop works quite all right. The performance is average of course, slightly worse than MX-18, but still very decent.
And that's another ancient laptop put to the test, successfully. I am rather pleased with both these experiments. First, being able to use the Pavilion, and then, second, being able to use the LG machine with decent performance, despite its age. Nvidia drivers, 5.8 kernel, all the modern applications, and you can even stream videos and play HD content. The disk is also fully encrypted. Not bad, not bad.
I guess this article shows that buying decent hardware works well in the long run - you get more bang for your buck when you normalize it per years of usage. Also, while Linux has many problems and issues, it does have one fair advantage, and that's how it handles old hardware. That ain't a great business model, but it is a practical model, especially for people who value their properties, and/or may not want to waste money on buying new and shiny stuff, when the old one still works and delivers. Yes, 12 years of usage is pushing it by all standards, but it's still something. Anyway, good results today, and a phenomenal testimony to the flexibility of the Plasma desktop.