First off, I enjoy making old things useful, and I hate to see something useful get wasted, not used, or thrown in a landfill. Having said that, here's the jist of my post: I'm looking for advice on installing TC on a 10-year-old laptop, and I have some questions about using a CF as an IDE drive and installing TC on either the CF or a USB stick. Read along for more detail, if you are interested......
I have a (circa 2005) Sony Vaio VGN-T150 "ultrabook" that I've had since new. Originally it came with XP, but as well all know it has reached end of life and wasn't necessarily a "light" OS. The specs of this tiny laptop:
Intel Pentium M ULV 733 at 1.1ghz/2MB cache/400mhz FSB, 1GB (max) RAM, 1280x768 widescreen 10.6" display, 40GB 1.8" HDD, PCMCIA type II card slot, 2xUSB 2.0 ports, 1xFireWire400 port, Intel 2200 wireless, Bluetooth, DVDRW/CDRW Superdrive, MSPro slot, and a 56k modem. Quite the little powerhouse in it's day, but it's day has long passed (it's 10 years old!). It had a 6+ hour battery life when new, but the original battery is good now for only about 45 minutes, so it needs a new ($40) battery. I also recently replaced the keyboard due to a broken F5 key ($25).
This laptop has been a great machine for me, but in about 2008 I won a Panasonic ToughBook CF-19 in a technician competition and started using it, so the Sony started collecting dust. I recently revived it and am considering selling the TB on ebay and using the Sony as my daily laptop again. Why? It has an optical drive built in (TB does not); it's battery life is much longer with a new battery (both need new batteries, and the Sony's is cheaper too); it weighs less than 3 lbs (TB is more like 5 or so); screen is a widescreen and overall better. Now, the downside is that it has less computing power, RAM, and HDD space than the TB. Currently, both are running LXLE (12.04 on the Sony; 14.04 on the TB), and I've all but ditched Windows of any flavor (I still have a desktop w/Win 7, and my work laptop from my employer uses 7). I'm slowly learning Linux, and have tested various distros on the TB: Lubuntu, Xubuntu, LXLE have been the ones I've liked so far. Have not tried TC (yet), and find it interesting.
My goal is to have a general-use laptop that I can surf the net, watch YT videos, DVD's, run some programming IDE's and such (C++, Python, Arduino, RaspberryPi, etc.), wordprocessing, spreadsheets, powerpoint (Office-type apps), and general computing tasks. If I can also do video editing, burn/rip DVD's, video capture and such then even better, but if I need to I can use my desktop for that stuff. Since the Sony is old, obviously a lightweight linux distro makes sense - and by lightweight I mean minimal resource consumption. OF course that may limit the applications that can be used. Also, I think using a lightweight distro makes the laptop run faster and be more responsive (more like a new computer that is running a not-so-lightweight OS). This is where TC comes in (I think/hope).
I have considered purchasing a 128gb SSD (50-pin CF style, as that is what the Sony takes, 1.8" FF) to gain more space and speed; cost is about $95 (and does it make sense to spend $95 on a 10-yr-old laptop with a specialty HDD?). The other options would be to use a CF card in place of the HDD (in IDE mode) as a cheap SSD; I happen to have a few laying around (512mb and 4gb), and cost = $0. Not sure if I would need to install TC as if on a USB drive if installing to the CF, or as a typical HDD install. Obviously, a CF card is flash memory, and has a limited number of write cycles, which is my concern with using it as a HDD replacement, especially if I'm giving up a lot of storage space (the tradeoff being that it will be faster than the HDD, use less power, and cost zero). I can always use a USB drive for more storage (I can easily add a 64gb micro USB drive and I'd have more storage than I do now).
The other option would be to keep the HDD and have it boot to USB, and have persistance enabled to save all my settings, apps and work to the HDD - except that the BIOS doesn't support USB boot devices. I read that there is a program called Plop that could be a work-around - anyone familiar with this, and could I use it to force a boot to a USB drive? My understanding is that TC is fast b/c it loads completely in RAM, so I'm ok with a slightly longer boot time in exchange for speed when running.
I'm pretty happy so far with LXLE, but it does experience some sluggishness sometimes if I have multiple Firefox tabs open and other apps running. I was thinking that TC would likely run faster, given it uses less RAM, leaving more of what's left for FF and the other apps. This is really about getting the most performance I can from this laptop, meeting my needs and keeping the cost down. I will have a total (after I get a new battery) of $65 into putting this laptop back in service. Another $95 for an SSD brings it to $160, and some might say a new netbook for $200 would have been a wiser investment. Of course, right now I'm at $25 for the new keyboard, and I could still sell it on ebay and at least break even on that.
I'm open to all comments and advice. Thanks for reading my long post!