4 years ago I got Dell Precision 6400 at my previous job. It’s BIOS is dated 2011. At that time it was a very descent laptop: Intel i7, 8G of RAM, 256Gb SSD disk and 1Gb ATI Radeon 6740M! It came with Windows 7, but I replaced it with Linux Mint (I even had Gentoo for a short time). I liked it and got used to it despite its enormous size and weight. At some point a year ago I realized I need something more mobile and company gave me Lenovo T460 which I replaced with 15″ MacBook Pro eventually.
Few days ago I felt like I have to use separate workstation for my toy projects so I won’t interfere with my work environment and settings. I don’t want to use my gaming desktop and I want some mobility. So I decided to revive my Dell.
You know I had no troubles with Linux Mint, but I like trying something new. I picked Fedora 24 in memories of my first Linux desktop running Red Hat 9 ten years ago. But I didn’t like Gnome3 and GUI was pretty slow. Eclipse was almost unusable with ugly jitters when you scroll your code. Unfortunately the same thing happened with Linux Mint 18 Sarah! While I remembered Cinnamon as a fast window manager Eclipse Neon still was slow. Plus I had troubles with WiFi card! Sure my GPU driver was the real root cause! As I found out AMD stopped supporting drivers for X11 and latest XOrg server can’t use them. So I ended up with built-in open source driver which kinda works, but looks like can’t use all the power of ATI GPU (for instance, glxgears showed only 60 fps). I’ve heard that AMD (and NVidia) are working hard to provide there native version of open source driver (or at least partly opened), but they are targeting only latest GPUs 🙁
I was disappointed and almost gave up on my old buddy. And then yesterday I decided to try Windows 10. Just for fun. Apparently you can download Windows ISO for free directly from Microsoft site. You don’t need any product keys and you will get fully functional OS (with reminders to activate it). I made a bootable USB stick and installed Windows 10 Home. And you know what? I am impressed how flawlessly it went and how responsive Eclipse Neon is now! I even tried 3dMark tests and Vantage test showed my old horse is very close to gaming laptop for DX10! I’m not going to play games, but looks like I will stay with Windows for now. Until I got something more modern…
At the end is a quick reminder how to make a bootable USB stick in Linux. So basically there are two methods. For Linux distros usually it’s enough to use dd:
dd if=linux.iso of=/dev/<usb_stick_dev> bs=4M
For Windows you have to use fdisk (or parted) for creating NTFS partition first. (Don’t forget to mark it as bootable!) And then copy all files from Windows ISO image to that USB stick partition. And that’s it!