[sf-lug] SF-LUG meeting notes for Sunday December 3, 2017

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli at cal.berkeley.edu
Wed Dec 6 19:23:15 PST 2017

My comments in-line:

> From: "Bobbie Sellers" <bliss-sf4ever at dslextreme.com>
> Subject: [sf-lug] SF-LUG meeting notes for Sunday December 3, 2017
> Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2017 12:29:42 -0800

>     Wow a really big meeting today.
Yes, Sunday (email header indicates Monday local time) - I believe
I counted a total of 9 of us.

>     By 11:00 AM John S. and Michael Paoli had arrived.
I think I was a couple minutes late ... but not quite as many
minutes late as Muni was.
> Michael P. has a lovely big 17" Dell Precision Notebook.
Which I've been quite pleased with (acquired 2017-06-28
a lovely free find - curbside giveaway - and checked the S/N:
not something that's been reported stolen)
and I've been concisely referencing in my logs as:
Dell P10E001 <service tag / serial number>
Dell's documentation refers to it as: Dell Precision Workstation M6600
Migrated to it relatively recently from my ailing
Zareason Strata 6880 (Intel OEM PBL20/21),
haven't been all that thrilled with the
Zareason Strata 6880 - Intel may make good/excellent CPUs,
but for laptops ... :-/ ... received new 2011-12-15,
I take pretty good care of my equipment (though it often
spends many hours running!) ... in that time,
GPU on 1st mainboard failed moderately beyond 1 year warranty - that
was a relatively expensive replacement - requiring replacement of
entire mainboard.  Keyboard failed - was the first time I'd ever had a
keyboard fail on me - if I don't include issue of falling plaster and
dust thereof from ceiling causing issues on a Keytronics 101 OEM
keyboard (which I repaired by well cleaning and very slightly lubricating),
oh, and I did have one key on a Cromemco 3102 terminal which I'd received
which didn't work (magnetic reed relay switch ... and ... how'd I repair it?
switch physically closed contacts, but not electrically - sealed in a glass
envelope - apply a rather high voltage (about 600+ VAC) very limited current
(about a 10+M Ohm resister in series) ... burnt off whatever (oxide?) was
preventing electrical contact, without welding the contacts together - has
worked fine ever since) ... and after that on the Zareason,
2nd keyboard failed ... then a 3rd key on 2nd keyboard failed ... Zareason
couldn't get replacement keyboard anymore - I went to external USB keyboard,
and the GPU had been flaking out very seriously again - often when power
cycling the video was all messed up - even for BIOS/CMOS screen on
build-in display - so getting the thing booted and up and running was very
challenging (trying to enter key(s), passphrase(s), login(s), and/or
password(s) successfully without being able to reasonably see what was
being displayed was at best highly challenging) ... and even after it booted
often the video mode continued to be a scrambled mess ... maybe about
1 in 10 times would a reboot bring up a usable display.  Anyway, it was
quickly becoming time to migrate to some much more reasonable computer ...
so I started seriously looking at the Dell I'd acquired - and pleasantly
to my surprise, the hardware specs looked pretty comparable to (and possibly
even slightly better than) my Zareason, and I started testing out the
hardware - seemed good - and basically did a body transplant of ye olde
Zareason - keeping its SSD, and replacing everything else with the
Dell (less the Dell's internal hard drive).  Later also added a larger
capacity SSD - as that Dell also has two internal drive bays!  :-) ...
and mirrored the more critical/important stuff (the two SSDs aren't
matched in capacity - with mdadm/mdraid - can mix 'n match what is/isn't
RAID-1 protected - so nice flexibility on storage/capacity & size, without
the cost of *two* new large capacity SSD drives).
Anyway, thus far I've been quite to highly pleased with the Dell,
hardware seems quite excellent all 'round - at least for this
model and its relative age, condition, and apparent usage
history (physically etc. seems to have already gotten a pretty
good service life before it made it into my hands).
Also, before I had the Zareason, I had (actually still have)
IBM ThinkPad T40p TYPE 2373-G1U - good solid hardware, I
got nearly 10 years good service life out'a that one ...
not so with the Zareason :-/
Ah well, I may yet turn the Zareason into some type of (mostly)
"headless wonder" ... should be able to get it to power up fine
with wakeonlan, and if I can manage to keep the BIOS/CMOS settings
to some reasonable boot sequence, may still be able to do something
useful with that laptop ... at least until it otherwise totally dies (e.g.
it could be a much quieter and less power hungry host for the BALUG VM
that also hosts most everything SF-LUG except its lists) - for when
my primary (now Dell) laptop leaves home with me.  In the meantime,
the (loud, power hungry) "vicki" 1U rack mountable "server" system
covers that role.

>     I had brought along a considerable variety of distributions
> Debian 9.1, Ubuntu 17.10, Lubuntu 17.10 as well as the
Oooh, I had all my ISOs there with me:
(thanks in no small part to the larger SSD I recently installed - no
need to continue to lug around external drive and power supply to have
those handy)
I should've given you copies of my Debian 9.2 ISO images ...
Also Debian 9.3 (and 8.10) should be out this Saturday:
I'll likely have them for the 2017-12-09
Berkeley Linux Users Group https://berkeleylug.com/
meeting ... if I have sufficient time to download & assemble them:

>     11:35 Michael, our Slackware user came in just for
Multiple Michaels, just to confuse things ;-) ...
> but I know it is a busy time of year.  My shopping was done
> when I picked up a fresh pack of DVDs+RW and CDs RW
> at the Best Buy.  I got them there because that is only shop
> that I can reach that still is carrying these useful items.
Yes, I think Optical (at least <= dlbd) has passed points of
lowest prices (in general) with still generally good availability/stock,
... as floppies did some many years ago (I think at one point I got
rather large quantities of floppies at about $0.02 USD each).
I know I got some DVD+-R a couple years or so ago (a "Black Friday")
special for something around $0.15 USD ea. (@ qty. 100),
and some years before that I got a bunch of CD-RW at about $0.20 USD ea.
I've never really spotted DVD+-RW at prices quite low enough for me
to stock up in substantial quantity, but as folks do more and more
boot/install from USB flash, I'm finding less and less need/request for
optical media ... so my DVD+-R blanks will likely last me quite a
while - plus I do also have fairly reasonable quantity of DVD+-RW.

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