The everyday ramblings of an everyday geek.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


OK, the hard drive problem was my fault. Don't mess with proprietary hardware and expect to win, or better, when somebody tells you to record the master password for a hard disk take them seriously. That's two days I'll never get back, and the only nugget of wisdom I acquired in the process is, no, you can't unlocked a HDD for free, which I read in the first few minutes of my investigation. Time to focus my energies on something easier, a RAM upgrade.

All I wanted to do was upgrade from 64MB to 312MB. I checked the pins, 168 of them, I checked the bus speed 133MHz, I even checked to see what the BIOS maximum memory size was, 512MB. So with all this information at my fingertips I went to PC World to make my frivolous purchase. The damn stuff didn't work.

Apparently there is PC133 SDRAM and then there is PC133 SDRAM. They look the same, the have the same number of pins, but they initialize slightly differently which means that only newer BIOSs work with it. I'm really loosing interest in this whole project.

In an effort to improve performance I've started using XFCE as my window manager, its gorgeous and very responsive, but the fact of the matter is that 64MB RAM just isn't even remotely enough. Firefox is enough to consume pretty much all of the user space memory and as soon as you get a complicated page it starts paging virtual memory like its going out of
fashion. Running Firefox and Evolution is an exercise of extreme patience, and JBoss takes hours to tell you that it doesn't have enough memory. Now I could increase the virtual memory, but that's not very wise, sure things will load but with a crappy 5400RPM 10GB hard disk getting anything done will be painful.

So what are the alternatives?

I could buy memory that I know will work from Crucial, for a premium: £51.69 + pp for a single 256MB DIMM, or £21.14 + pp for a single 128MB DIMM. To be honest I just don't think its worth it. 256MB will take the system from being ridiculously slow to quite slow. It will run JBoss, and I might be able to run Firefox and Evolution at the same time, but £50 is a lot of
money to invest in a system that isn't really mine. For ~£150 I can own a AMD Semperon system that makes The Beast look like the POS that it is, or I could just bite the bullet and do the development on G5. The original plan was to do the development on the Linux box because it would be easier, but that just hasn't been my experience. Java and Linux do work pretty well together, but on far more powerful machines, or maybe I'm just spoilt by the extreme power I have at my disposal in the G5. The Beast is going back to Kay's.


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