Skip to content


It’s been just over a year since I bought my first laptop. I bought the cheapest one I could find, because all I really wanted was to be able to dedicate a machine to the Army. It needed to be able to check my email, run the Army’s flight planning software, and little else.

It’s been a convenience, but like most things chosen for price alone, robustness was not one of its qualities. Last week its power jack died beyond my ability to wiggle the plug into a workable position, and last weekend the final dregs of battery gave out. Given that I had a Best Buy gift card from christmas, I took it in to see if they could do anything with it. They pointed out that shipping alone would cost a quarter of the price of a new computer, and that replacing the motherboard would eat the rest. Replacment was the more practical option.

I’m typing this on a new computer, whose numerical statistics are (with astonishing precision) precisely double those of the computer this is replacing. However, like any other brand new machine, it was practically uselses out of the box: it had a crappy OS (Vista Basic) and a hard drive full of adware and demos. The ideal scenario would be for me to just throw the old machine’s hard drive into an external enclosure and boot from that, but Microsoft in its infinite wisdom has installed logic to prevent that from happening. After all, if the boot disc for an XP license was portable, a user could just carry that disc around to whatever machine happened to be handy at the time, losing MS the OS sales for each of those machines.

Luckily for me, in software there is no such thing as having the last word. If there is incentive to do a thing, no force in the world will prevent someone on the internet from figuring out how to do it. Wait long enough, and the knowledge will even be refined into tutorial form.

The process isn’t perfect. I’ll have to back up everything of importance, then customize, format, and reinstall windows onto the portable drive. Then I get to reinstall all the applications. It’ll probably eat at least one weekend to get things running properly.

Still, the result is what matters: I’ll have a Windows installation in a wallet-sized drive that I can plug in whenever I need it, and whenever I don’t, there’ll be nothing preventing me from using this nice new ubuntu box as my general-purpose portable. It is hard not to see this result as being an upgrade in all respects.

RSS feed


No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.