Linux on an old Dell 3800 Inspiron laptop

My wife got given an old laptop from her work. It was going to be thrown out but they gave it her on the condition that we made sure there was no confidential company information left on the hard disk and, if there was, made sure it was erased.

The computer, a Dell 3800 Inspiron laptop 256 MB Ram 14GB hard drive Pentium III Celeron-was not in the best of shape.
The first hurdle was it was password protected but no one could remember the password.
Second hurdle was the touch pad and ‘stick-mouse’ did not work
No built in Ethernet.
CD ROM drive
Internal modem is a win-modem.
The battery could not hold a charge.

My first thing to do was comply with the terms of the agreement and to check to see what was on the disk. I started up an old live version of Puppy Linux on a CD and was able to read the Windows “My Documents” directories for several people and it appeared that the directories were all blank. First step done.

The next thing was to see if I could get the mouse etc to work so I undid the screws for the keyboard. I noticed that the plug that goes to the mouse pad was disconnected, I thought, “Could that be it as simple as that?”
No, I was not that lucky. I tried various combinations of plugging and wiggling of the connector and the surrounding area and eventually I felt that this was a long time to waste on something that was not really needed. I found an old Logitech tracker ball mouse and plugged it into the mouse port on the back of the computer.

At about the same time they were cleaning up the office and found a spare battery, I placed it on charge and found that this second battery pack was actually keeping a charge, so I now have a basic computer that ‘works’.

Next to do some distro checking…



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