Mac Linux project, Corebooting X230 etc!

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Hello once again! I’ve recently started working as a contractor at Salesforce in IT while I finish up my final online college classes. Nowadays I’m doing side projects at work and at home to keep my interest for hacking/modifying hardware up.

I learned the other day that, although prior owners can still download the OSX El Capitan install .app off the Mac App Store from “Purchases”, if you make an installable USB from the installer and plug it into the 2009 Macbook Pro 15”, it will come up with the above picture. This is quite odd- even though I had both unofficial AND official copies of the .app installer and made a flash drive with either after checking their sha’s, the 2009 would still refuse to have the OS installed, claiming it was faulty. Perhaps I’ll try something older on that one with DiskMaker or something since the terminal-based method wasn’t working.

The original goal behind getting a semi-recent build of OSX on that old macbook was merely to install rEFInd so I could then boot to a Linux flash drive and install some Debian-derivative distro on it. It was going to be the work laptop dedicated to troubleshooting drive issues, image cloning etc. Oh well, guess that’s on a backburner for a bit until I can figure out the new EFI through different methods.

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In other news, my Thinkpad X230 that I left back in Ohio when moving across the country has been shipped back to me!

Once I’m less stressed about finding longer-term housing situations, I’ll definitely be corebooting this and throwing Debian on it to function as a stand-in portable Plex server etc.

Thinkpad Life and the Yearly Distrohop

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At this point in my Linux journey, after fully switching to it as a daily driver in Q4 2018, I’d say I’m quite satisfied with using it as a daily OS. Currently I’m using Manjaro Gnome on all of my devices. Above is the picture of the AMD-Ryzen-based Thinkpad A485 I’m running it on when on campus.

The Aero15X, with its finnickyness regarding Linux installs, will stay at home until I have more time to configure a proper Arch install with good Optimus support on it… This Thinkpad gets a solid 5-6 hours of battery life on the stock model battery. I have Lenovo’s proper “61++” battery coming in for it in upcoming weeks so that will be nice.

In terms of personal projects, I’m currently working on modifying Luke Smith’s LARBS script for a Linode-based Arch install in the cloud. Looking to see if I can properly configure AwesomeWM to forward the display of the VPS to my laptop, thereby allowing me to remote into my little project without taking any compute power away from the laptop I’m doing my Senior Design project on. I’ll have more to report in the future! I might fork LARBS and throw it onto my GitHub when I get further along.

Note: I link many things in my blog posts- click the grey-er words to be taken to related or corresponding sites while reading.

Updates + Thinkpad acquired

Just some quick updates. Outside of insane amounts of classwork, not much has happened project-wise in the last two weeks or so.
Although I won’t be back near my home until tomorrow morning, a used Thinkpad A485 arrived there. I’ll be looking into future possibilities of getting coreboot flashed on it, but for now I’ll likely just run Manjaro on it with the stock bootloader. Manjaro has been my go-to on most of my devices, save the picky Aero, since 2019 started. This Thinkpad will be the fifth Thinkpad I’ve ever owned in my life- in the past I’ve had an X61 Tablet, T420, E430 and T440s in that order, starting in 2008. Thinkpads are a lot more flexible regarding what operating systems they can run, versus most competitors’ laptops these days.

I have been reading more and more into libre computing recently and prefer user-modifiable everything on a system to closed-down systems. If Purism ever moves to AMD or RISC-V in the future, I will gladly give their laptop/future tablet listings more of a look. For now, I'm most interested in the $150 PinePhone offering from Pine64 and especially the hubbub around the Librem 5 from Purism. I will likely migrate to the Librem 5 from my Pixel 2 XL in the future as I am sick and bored of the same old same old from Google and Apple…as well as the information they gather from me without my consent.

Reviving The Old Dell Mini 10 + Update!

Back in early 2009, there was a tiny little “cheap” netbook, designed by Dell, to be utilized for simple web browsing and office applications. The hardware was incredibly cheap, however it could easily withstand being knocked around in an elementary or high school student’s bookbag. This was the Dell Mini 10.

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Seeing that I haven’t really done much with the restoration of this old hardware, I feel that it isn’t worth its own project page. Instead, I will document it here in a blog post.

The above picture was what you would originally find this netbook listed as on Dell’s website back in the day.

After upgrading the RAM to the maximum it could utilize, 2GB, installing a little SSD I had laying around and throwing Linux Mint 32-bit on it, we now have a cheap little Chromebook replacement. My goal in the future is to use a Pinebook Pro instead of this little guy or my x360 HP chromebook. I intend on giving away the Dell Mini 10 and the HP Chromebook to others who have more use for them, but for now, this chromecasts fine to the TV.

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Now, above, we have the output of an application called “Neofetch” that, in my opinion, should come standard with most Linux Distributions. If interested in doing the same as I have done, feel free to reach out to the Linux Reddit, as they’re very helpful to newcomers looking to recycle some old hardware.

As we can see here, I have installed Linux Mint on this. It is a very lightweight operating system, and much more secure than the aging Windows 7 Starter that was installed on here.

Microsoft is abandoning Windows 7 if I recall correctly, and Linux allows users to own their hardware without relying on needless Microsoft spyware. The goal of this was to outfit the little netbook with a barebones operating system that auto-launched Chrome whenever you started it up. As we can see under the “Memory” section of the output, this OS uses VERY LITTLE memory at idle. Even when casting informative Youtube videos to the TV, it still only gets up to about 1gb.

That’s the news regarding the Dell Mini 10 that I revived, however I’d also like to add that I’ll be working on some Terraform code going forward for a senior design project!