Pictures coming soon!
I came across a “dying” Dell Latitude C680. It was old, but after looking at the specs I decided to keep it.
60GB HDD (mine was dead)
Two battery/expansion bays (one battery, one floppy)
One CD-Rom drive (thought it was dead, turned out to be the bay itself was bad)
GeForce 440 64mb video
The cdrom drive failed on me, but I was able to replace the floppy drive with another CD-rom drive.
I modified the hard drive bay caddy (mostly with electrical tape and the plastic case of a CF card) to house a 4GB CompactFlash card connected to a CF to IDE laptop convertor. With a little bit of fuss, I was able to get it to slide into the bay without catching on anything.
Using a Debian Etch CD, I did a full disk encryption LVM base install. It wasn’t too slow, however there were parts where the CF card was obviously choking a bit.
After booting into the system, I tested the CF card with hdparm -tT /dev/hda and was pleasantly surprised.
Timing cached reads: 716 MB in 2.00 seconds = 357.50 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 114 MB in 3.02 seconds = 37.71 MB/sec
So cached reads are about 1/2 as slow as I’d expect from a regular IDE drive, but the buffered disk reads are about as high.
I’m running Fluxbox, with Iceweasel and a few other operations and am noticing no problems with performance. Sometimes when dealing with multiple files at the same time things get slow.
Like any solid-state drive, this will make your laptop much more rugged (no moving parts except for fans and cd-rom drive).
While it has limited space, I could have easily purchased a 8/16/32GB CF card with similar speeds… if I had the money.
The CF card was around $25, and the adapter was $5.
For the next stage, I plan on using the now dead CD rom bay on the side to house USB devices with a powered USB hub.
This laptop will mainly be used for school (if it gets stolen, not a big deal) and war driving.