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Umlaut is dead.
When I got home from Procrastinator's Beltaine pn Monday night, one of the first things I did was to power up my computer (Umlaut) and check my email/livejournal/RSS feeds, etc. I admit I'm somewhat of an addict, so this isn't an unreasonable thing for me to do.

Or at least, that was the plan. Instead, Umlaut failed to recognize my hard drive. Holding the drive while powering up the system didn't reveal the slight torquing I would expect from a hard drive spinning up, either. Switching IDE busses, power plugs, etc didn't improve the situation. It did recognize an old 17GB drive I had, but there wasn't a bootable OS installed on it. I ended up using Kaaren's Mac to check my email/livejournal/RSS feeds, etc. But it's not an optimal arrangement.

Tuesday I brought home from work a 120GB drive I had floating around, as well as an Ubuntu 7.10 install CD. Booting from the CD and installing 7.10 onto the drive seemed to work fine, but when trying to run off of the install it would very quickly (as in less than 5 minutes of operation or so) spontaneously reset and be unable to find the drive anymore. Powercycling it would give me another couple of minutes, and I was once able to almost complete an upgrade to Hardy Heron before rebooting. Usually, however, I would barely be able to get logged in before it rebooted.

I don't seem to have the same problems with spontaneous system resets when running from the Ubuntu Live CD, but I was also unable to get Ubuntu fully installed on the 17GB drive without a reboot.

(To clarify: when I say "spontaneous reboot", I don't mean an orderly shutdown, I mean suddenly the screen goes black and the system starts with POST, bios detection of hardware, etc.)

The CPU heat doesn't seem very high (about 50°C), the power supply fans are running well, so I don't see any immediate reasoning why this would happen.

The system is old; it's running an Athlon XP 1800, which means I probably got the CPU in early 2002 (6 years ago). The motherboard and memory are of similar vintage. The case is (I believe) a little bit older, and I think the power supply is a little bit newer (I remember burning out an underpowered power supply and replacing it, but I'm not sure if this was this case or an earlier one). The hard drives are newer, and the software is newer. Within the last year I got a new video card and a new WiFi card. I've been wanting a newer box, but there's not been a pressing reason to justify the cost.

Now there is.

It looks like I can get a decent barebones system mail order for under $300 that'll meet my needs, but that's $300 more than I really can afford to spend right now.

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I forget (and I shouldn't): Umlaut is a laptop?

Nope, Umlaut is a full-tower Athlon XP 1800+ box.

Ah. OK, you have a couple of choices then.

• Spend ~€200 that you don't have on a computer, or
• Salvage what you can of the current computer (Wifi Card, video card) and get your butt up here Thursday or Friday and build a new machine. I can't offer you any sort of GHz processor at all, but I can offer you free.


Option 2 is a good short-term option, but I do need a newer machine. The main issue I have with machines from your barn is I' not sure they'll handle my videocard. I can check.

Well, I'm not sure what development you're doing on your machine. If you're doing development then, no, nothing in the Barn will come up to snuff. If you want something that will do internet access, I have it.

But you knew that.

€200 for something that you can do development on? Hmmmm. No. The last thing I need to carry to Boston is another CPU. :-)

the desktop computer i'm using to post this was bought in 1997, and came with Windows 95 on it. it's got a 300 mHz Pentium II CPU, and it came with an 8 GB hard drive. over the years, i've upgraded to Windows 2000 Pro, and added a second hard drive (20 GB), some extra RAM, and a NIC card. my biggest problems are that both hard drives are now nearly full, and that the video is too underpowered for any media player except WinAmp. i want a newer computer too.

It sounds like it is a controller problem rather than a drive problem. Can you disable the drive controller and put in another I/F card for your drives? Thats cheaper than a new MB.

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