Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

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m00tykins
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Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby m00tykins » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:19 pm UTC

Hey all,

It is my impression that when a technology first comes out manufacturers concentrate a lot more on making sure a device will work than on planned obsolescence, with a good example being early vs modern incandescent lightbulbs. And now it is not unheard of for otherwise high quality computing technology to self-destruct, regardless of price or care, on preprogrammed dates with the same precision one could expect of a clock costing the same amount.

With that said, I just bought an omnibook 800ct 166. I believe these were some of the last computers where each component was made with quality first. It is an 11" fanless laptop with a great keyboard, *EASILY* replaceable batteries, RAM and hdd, and an adorable pop-out mouse-on-a-stick. Hopefully I can keep it working for 10+ more years with proper care.

The problem now is what to put on it... its a 166mhz pentium mmx with 80mb ram max. I'm a little tired of the traditional Unix monolithic kernel. Should I use kolibrios? Minix 3? L4? What would be the perfect os for a computer you plan to use unchanged for a decade?

Derek
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby Derek » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:31 pm UTC

What do you actually plan to do with such a computer? Is it just for the novelty?

m00tykins
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby m00tykins » Fri Jul 22, 2016 1:33 am UTC

I plan on using it for light coding, links2/netsurf-style Web browsing, and as a remote console.

I think kolibrios might be a good choice, apparently it can boot in around 10 seconds off such a computer and has a built in asm ide.

commodorejohn
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:12 am UTC

That's also the right vintage for BeOS.
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Neil_Boekend
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Jul 26, 2016 2:51 pm UTC

m00tykins wrote:Hey all,

It is my impression that when a technology first comes out manufacturers concentrate a lot more on making sure a device will work than on planned obsolescence, with a good example being early vs modern incandescent lightbulbs.

That's actually a very bad example. "Modern" incandescent bulbs die sooner, yes, but that's due to a higher filament temperature. The higher filament temperature also means they use far less power for the same amount of light, see black body radiation. For a deeper explanation ask in Science.
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wumpus
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby wumpus » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:27 pm UTC

90s laptop? For a decade? How many spare backlights to you have and how good are you at replacing them? Note that this should be considered a "wear item" and replacing such is pretty much standard practice. The inductors and power transistors for inverter that drives the backlight should remain strong (on "planned obsolescence" machines they are nearly as likely to fail as the backlight bulb. I've had a laptop die that way).

If you plan on leaving the software "as is" (and plan on installing software that may or may not be maintained, you might as well consider DOS/Windows because you shouldn't be plugging it into the internet anyway (you *will* have security holes using older software. Maybe not the instapwn <TM> of Microsoft software (especially of that era) but pretty bad.

BeOS would make a great first stab. Although I have a couple of IBM thinkpads from that era (and I *think* installed it on them, possibly a desktop partition) but couldn't get interested. Supposedly rather "snappy" for the hardware and era. It might even have the full infrastructure you might want for non-internet connected computing. I wouldn't count on even more obscure platforms to have the software you would want.

Don't forget to buy spare hard drives and be on the lookout for DRAM replacements. The hard drive will especially be a problem because I doubt it will connect to SATA and you are unlikely to find non-SATA drives easily. Stiction (from older drives sitting for decades) will also be a problem. If you have serious hardware and software skills, you might want to rig up a IDE "RAID of SDHC cards" to replace your hard drive, although what you will do with the excess storage would be beyond me. Perhaps some sort of driver and "fake internet" full of stored media.

shieldforyoureyes
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby shieldforyoureyes » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:51 am UTC

My main computer is a Sun server from 1999, so I certainly understand the impulse.

The two things that have made me keep "the device on my desktop which I'm currently using as an x terminal" reasonably up to date are: decent display (24 bit color was a bit rare in the 90s, and resolutions were a bit cramped), and enough compute power to play video smoothly. (I think the laptop I currently use is mid 00's?)

Thinkpads have always had nice hardware.

The BSDs run nicely with limited resources. Remember: the machine that made a Unix / X desktop environment hugely popular in academia was the Sun-3/50, which had 4 meg of ram. None of the modern BSD's are as slim as circa 80's 4.3BSD, but still. A lot lighter than Linux.

commodorejohn
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:44 am UTC

The problems I have with the BSDs are somewhat poorer laptop support and somewhat poorer selection in the repository. That said, yes, they are light as shit by modern standards, and blessedly free of Lennartism.
"'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling."
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shieldforyoureyes
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby shieldforyoureyes » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:30 pm UTC

Yeah, I *can't* hang peripherals off my BSD "x terminal" laptop.

wumpus
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby wumpus » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:35 am UTC

shieldforyoureyes wrote:The BSDs run nicely with limited resources. Remember: the machine that made a Unix / X desktop environment hugely popular in academia was the Sun-3/50, which had 4 meg of ram. None of the modern BSD's are as slim as circa 80's 4.3BSD, but still. A lot lighter than Linux.


I remember using a Sun-3/50 in college (I worked in a computer lab, so used a 3/50 while anyone there early grabbed up a 3/60). While 80's BSD might have been slim, by 1991 or so SunOS really didn't fit on the old 3/50, and they were eventually all turned into X-terminals (along with a heap of uVaxen that "were bought for a song"). I think all the 3/50s (and uVaxen) were run off three Sparcs (the pool slowly grew, likely as SunOS grew. *Eventually* they gave up on SunOS/BSD, but probably well after Sun canceled all support (and probably switched to Dell/Red Hat right then).

BSD (or at least the Sun port) was gaining weight fast. It didn't help that the FSF still had a reputation for piggy software (imagine that) at the time.

commodorejohn
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Re: Planned obsolescence and the best computer ever

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:57 am UTC

Yeah, I certainly wouldn't try it on a 4MB machine anymore, but even the heaviest of the BSDs only lists a minimum RAM requirement of like 32MB, and I ran a recent-ish version of OpenBSD with X quite comfortably on an UltraSPARC-II workstation with 128MB. (Now, running a web browser on it was a different story, but that's more on modern web design than anything.)
"'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling."
- Bjarne Stroustrup
www.commodorejohn.com - in case you were wondering, which you probably weren't.


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