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T30 viability

T20-T23 Series and T30 specific matters only. NOT for T25-Retro.
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tiorapatea
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T30 viability

#1 Post by tiorapatea » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:10 pm

I have a T30 that I love to bits, but I am beginning to wonder whether it is time to retire the machine. My wife uses it mostly, and she has been complaining a lot about the machine being slow. I think she discovered tabbed browsing or something, or maybe it's just crud building up in her XP installation.

The machine has 1.25 GB RAM, a 1.8 MHz P4-M, and a 40 GB 5400 rpm drive (and SXGA+). I know it's the drive that is the culprit, but ATA drives seem (relatively) pricey. In the UK, maybe £40 ($60) for an 80GB, £50 for a 160GB drive. I was thinking it would be cool to put an SSD in the machine , but there doesn't seem to be much info here about doing this to T30s specifically and also I cannot seem to find ATA SSDs anywhere.

Considering you can pick up T60s for £150 these days, PATA components don't seem like a great investment. Presumably, used SSDs aren't a great idea even supposing I could find any.

I know it's pathetic, but I hate to see this machine laid low by bloatware :( . I have tried to keep it going: new heatsink and fan assembly; Atheros 5004X b/g card; extra 1 GB Ram (both slots are working!); Firewire and USB 2.0 Cardbus adapter. And it is still a great machine in so many ways: the keyboard especially is just heaven, and it's nice that it has SXGA+.

Any ideas on how to speed this baby up?
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Re: T30 viability

#2 Post by at both ends » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:47 pm

My experience lately with slow XP boxes is that it's often an antivirus package. It doesn't matter if it's commercial or free; they all suck cycles and RAM like there is no tomorrow, killing single core machines. Can you kill the antivirus, maybe the firewall too? How unsafe is your wife's online activity? IE and Firefox are also very bloated these days; consider Chrome.

I still have a (trying to remember, could be 15 years old at this point) Pentium 4 tower running XP with only 768MB RAM, part of which is reserved for video memory, but it's never online so there is no firewall and no virus software. It doesn't go check on the web to update XP or Java or Adobe or anything. It's laughably underpowered and out of date. That machine is indistinguishable in user response for Microsoft Office work and light bookkeeping, which is what it's used for.
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Re: T30 viability

#3 Post by pianowizard » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:02 pm

My Panasonic CF-Y4 is 1.6GHz Pentium M, has a 5400rpm IDE/ATA HDD and has only 512MB of PC2-3200 RAM, but it's surprisingly snappy. Before you invest in a second 1GB of RAM or an SDD, I recommend you to first use CCleaner to remove all the crap, run defrag, and then replace your virus scanner with AVast Afree Antivirus. Finally, if you haven't tweaked Windows XP, you should at least switch to "Classic Mode" and choose "Optimize for Performance" under System Properties --> Advanced --> Performance. If your hard drive is pretty full, getting rid of unneeded files and programs will also help.
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Re: T30 viability

#4 Post by tiorapatea » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:12 pm

Thanks for the replies. I actually force my wife to run XP under a limited user account, and with that measure in place, I do without anti-virus software altogether on this machine. I absolutely loathe anti-virus software at the best of times - everything I have tried is a terrible resource hog and just tries to justify its existence with lots of false positive warnings and alerts. As for firewall, it is just the XP firewall plus a NAT router. Should I consider disabling the XP firewall? Not sure what it can really do except block stuff on the local network, which should be secure (WPA2/802.11i), since I have no externally-originated port-mapping on the router.

The disk on the T30 had been filling up a bit, so I removed a lot of stuff, and de-fragged, which did help quite a lot. The trouble is, my wife recently bought an iphone 4, which to my astonishment seems really to depend on having an itunes installation on a PC. There goes that space again. (I actually realise there are hacks that make itunes unnecessary, but I don't really want to have to manage yet another series of hacks - I have enough of my own to worry about!).

I think the Chrome idea is worth pursuing. I recently switched my wife to Firefox, because IE7 seemed to have a lot of trouble rendering several websites, but whilst Firefox is better than IE7 in many respects, it is still a memory hog. I have been trialling Chrome on my employer's Dell E6500 and it does seem like a useable substitute for Firefox and a bit snappier. BTW, IE8, which I am using at the moment, seems to have problems with posting messages on this site - the scrolling is messed up when composing messages.

XP is definitely in Classic Mode, but I need to check the performance optimization. **Checking** Ok, well all of the eye candy was switched on, except "Show common tasks in folders", whatever that means. So I switched it all off, but didn't like it. So I have switched back on:
Smooth edges of screen fonts
Smooth-scroll list boxes
Use drop shadows for icons on desktop
Use Visual styes for windows and buttons

They were the things that sounded nicest and it did clean up the look of the desktop icon labels. Do you think this will help (the reduction in eye-candy)?

Thanks again for your input.
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Re: T30 viability

#5 Post by RistoE » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:20 pm

Install Linux. For example Ubuntu. That runs nicely on T30 and you don't need any antivirus program which also helps. I´m running ubuntu on my T60. That is also what my wife and kids use on their thinkpads. Even T20 is usable with Linux.
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Re: T30 viability

#6 Post by RealBlackStuff » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:20 pm

Check hard on the web, and install Windows-FLP (Fundamentals for Legacy PCs).
It's a very skinny XP-Pro version, with all the bloat removed, right up your street!

On a T23 I only needed to download the ethernet driver, everything else worked OOTB.
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Re: T30 viability

#7 Post by tiorapatea » Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:08 pm

I do use Debian Squeeze on my own machine, but I don't really want my wife to have to deal with it. Windows-FLP looks interesting, though I'm not sure I can legally and cost-effectively obtain a license. Microsoft should sell it to the retail customer!

Perhaps I should just try to reduce the number of services running on full-fat XP, or maybe try to produce a customised installation a la Bart PE.
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Re: T30 viability

#8 Post by jronald » Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:53 pm

My ideal T30's are 2.0 gig CPU, 1.25 gig memory and 7200 rpm HDD.
Mildly tweaked XP (99% out of the box) Avast, Firefox and Notebook Hardware Control.
Occasionally, about once a month, it gets slow updating something or the other, but generally I have zero complaints. My sons 1.6 and my wife's 1.8 have both driven me crazy at times. There is something about this combination that really works!

Everything I have mentioned can be had very cheaply, and I think you will find it does everything you want it to. Nothing makes the T30 scream like a 7200 rpm HDD.

Ron
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Re: T30 viability

#9 Post by tiorapatea » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:59 am

Thanks, Ron. I hear that the large capacity 5400 rpm drives are almost as fast as the difficult-to-obtain 7200 rpm IDE drives. Still love the idea of an SSD, although I know it makes no economic sense and that there are problems running SSDs on Windows XP (garbage collection etc.).

On the CPU-side, I seem to remember reading here that T30s at 1.8 or below have different motherboards from the 2.0 or higher. Would that cause me a problem if I tried for an upgrade? Something about the fan control in the Bios or a different heatsink/fan. I actually replaced my HSF and gave it the Arctic Silver treatment, so if I repeat that with a new CPU, maybe I would be OK.

Economically, I'm thinking it might be better to get an SATA drive and use it in the optical bay as a primary drive. I have a USB enclosure that I could use if I ever need to use a CD-ROM. That way I could reuse the hard drive down the road, and SATA drives are cheaper, although I would need to acquire an SATA-PATA caddy. Will this give me any performance issues, e.g. maybe the optical bay interface on the chipset could be slower or something?
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Re: T30 viability

#10 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:49 am

A highly recommendable & affordable PATA HD is the Samsung HM160HC (single-platter 160GB/5400).
Try this UK one: http://cgi.ebay.com/160GB-Samsung-HM160 ... 0552276982

You are correct about the mobos. From 2.00GHz up they use a different one, with slightly different hardware (probably a different Southbridge), but same BIOS.
You can run a 2.00GHz on your machine, but you won't notice any difference between that and your existing CPU. Waste of time/money IMHO.

2GB RAM will make some difference, compared to your current 1.25GB, but not all that much.
A "slimmer" OS would definitely also help.

PS: check your PM
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Re: T30 viability

#11 Post by tiorapatea » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:43 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:A highly recommendable & affordable PATA HD is the Samsung HM160HC (single-platter 160GB/5400).
Try this UK one: http://cgi.ebay.com/160GB-Samsung-HM160 ... 0552276982
Looking at completed listings, I think the Samsung will ultimately fetch between £35 and £50 delivered, which is actually only a few pounds cheaper than buying an equivalent-capacity drive at retail if you go to the right place. Single platter sounds good though.

The thing is I have a somewhat spare Seagate Momentus 60GB 7200 rpm drive with SATA interface (it is in my T60 Ultrabay Slim), so I'm thinking of maybe buying one of those Ultrabay 2000 PATA to SATA adapters like this at £16.99 delivered:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/SATA-2nd-HDD-cadd ... 0361932351

This would at least give me an extra 20 gigs and a bit of a speed boost, although I'm not clear whether the Ultrabay will actually slow things down compared with the internal primary drive.

I also just bought a T60 for my mother that is supposed to have a 100GB 7200 rpm drive in it (it hasn't been delivered yet), so the T30 might get lucky and the T60 could live with 60GB.
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Re: T30 viability

#12 Post by frankiepankie » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:34 am

PATA SSD can be found on eBay, look for "Kingspec" ;)
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Re: T30 viability

#13 Post by ashleys » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:50 am

My T30 is still going strong (touch wood) and running Windows 7 really well.

I upgraded the RAM to 2GB and the disk to a WD Scorpio Blue 250GB. It's only really used as my hot spare to the desktop but runs better than when I had XP on it. It was a clean install of retail Windows 7 Professional, so not a Lenovo build and only has the software installed I actually need and use.

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Re: T30 viability

#14 Post by tiorapatea » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:01 am

ashleys wrote:My T30 is still going strong (touch wood) and running Windows 7 really well.

I upgraded the RAM to 2GB and the disk to a WD Scorpio Blue 250GB. It's only really used as my hot spare to the desktop but runs better than when I had XP on it. It was a clean install of retail Windows 7 Professional, so not a Lenovo build and only has the software installed I actually need and use.
Really?! I had read here that the ATI Mobility 7500 really struggles with Windows 7. Obviously I don't care about Aero or anything like that, but even so.

I'm not sure I would ever try this, at least until I upgrade my wife to a new system (I mean to say, upgrade my wife's laptop ;<) ).
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Re: T30 viability

#15 Post by pianowizard » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:23 am

I suspect this remains the biggest problem and should be the first thing you try to fix:
tiorapatea wrote:... it's just crud building up in her XP installation.
It will take a full day to back up all your current files, reinstall XP (including doing a full, non-quick format), get SP2, SP3 and all the security updates from Microsoft, and get all the drivers, but the good thing is it won't require you to buy anything. If you are using the original recovery discs, all the programs that came with this T30 will also be installed automatically, and I recommend you the uninstall the ones that you don't need because some of them do slow down the machine.
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Re: T30 viability

#16 Post by tiorapatea » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:46 am

I actually don't have any recovery disks, but I do have the recovery partition and the i386 folder. I can just make some new disks, right?

When I bought the machine second-hand a few years ago, it was a fresh install from a somewhat trusted person, so I just used the machine as was. However, first of all I did actually clone the Windows partition, using ntfs-tools I think, and shrank it with ntfsresize, so that I could make a separate data partition. At least, I think that's what I did - must try to dig out my notes. Of course, we are talking about a full installation here, with nothing cut out, and I would still have to go through a couple of thousand years' of Windows updates. I would also need to fire up my old tower system and find my 3.5 inch to 2.5 inch PATA adapter.

If one isn't doing this stuff the whole time, it ends up taking ages to re-learn how to do it all.

Edit: I still need to investigate the Windows-FLP route. I wouldn't want my wife to notice anything missing!
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Re: T30 viability

#17 Post by ashleys » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:53 am

Really?! I had read here that the ATI Mobility 7500 really struggles with Windows 7


Works fine here. All my machines that run Windows 7 do not use Aero and indeed are made to look like Windows 2K/XP.
There are no W7 drivers for the ATI 7500 but I use the XP drivers and they will work perfectly well for normal application displays. DVD playback is unreliable but then I don't use that, so no problem.

As mentioned elsewhere, a complete clean re-install of XP is the other obvious option.

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Re: T30 viability

#18 Post by tiorapatea » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:15 pm

ajkula has warned about reduced performance of Ultrabay 2000 SATA caddies, here: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=86518

"Unfortunately, SATA ultrabay caddies for UB 2000 are all aftermarket, and testing has shown them to be capped at speeds around 30Mb, which makes use of fast SATA drives - apart from sheer storage purposes - impractical."

That clarifies things a bit. Of course, SSDs are more about access speed than transfer speed, but it at least this rules out the SATA magnetic drive option, and the SSD thing is more a pipe dream than anything else. It would actually work best with Windows 7, as I understand it, because of the TRIM issues. Probably, I will not go there.

I'm leaning towards the "do nothing" option, although I might try for a clean installation if I can make some recovery disks, and look into nlite for a stripped-down image. The machine is, in truth, perfectly usable in its current state.
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Re: T30 viability

#19 Post by ThinkRob » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:09 pm

Hmmm... well there's a number of reasons why someone might complain a machine is slow to browse... perhaps something is taking up a fair amount of CPU time or keeping the NIC busy...
I actually force my wife to run XP under a limited user account, and with that measure in place, I do without anti-virus software altogether on this machine.
Ah. So, perhaps something is taking up a fair amount of CPU time or keeping the NIC busy by sending a couple thousand spams...

I kid, I kid. Seriously though, I'd wonder about the possibility of malware infestation. A limited user account isn't a panacea.

If you're comfortable trying new things, I'd recommend you give Linux a shot. If the machine's used primarily for browsing it'd be a good fit, and you wouldn't have to worry about malicious software (provided you follow some basic security practices.)
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Re: T30 viability

#20 Post by tiorapatea » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:08 am

ThinkRob wrote: [snip]

I kid, I kid. Seriously though, I'd wonder about the possibility of malware infestation. A limited user account isn't a panacea.

If you're comfortable trying new things, I'd recommend you give Linux a shot. If the machine's used primarily for browsing it'd be a good fit, and you wouldn't have to worry about malicious software (provided you follow some basic security practices.)
I don't think the machine has malware, at least not performance-reducing malware.

As I have already mentioned, I run Debian GNU/Linux Squeeze on my T60, but I just don't think my wife will be comfortable moving from what she is used to. She runs her own business, and has got used to using Microsoft Office, and quite frankly all the free (as in libre) Office software I have used is really bad. I am talking about word processors and spreadsheet programs. I did prefer Wordperfect to Microsoft Word when I last used it on a DOS system in 1989, but there is no current Linux version. (Wordperfect is not free, incidentally).

Still a little tempted by the Samsung drive because I could get it for £35 delivered. There is also the more expensive WD800BEVE-00A0HT, which is another single-platter 160GB design, at around £47. However, there are a few anecdotal reports about early drive failures (on the Samsung), which concern me (see notebookreview.com).
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Re: T30 viability

#21 Post by ThinkRob » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:32 pm

tiorapatea wrote: As I have already mentioned, I run Debian GNU/Linux Squeeze on my T60, but I just don't think my wife will be comfortable moving from what she is used to. She runs her own business, and has got used to using Microsoft Office, and quite frankly all the free (as in libre) Office software I have used is really bad. I am talking about word processors and spreadsheet programs. I did prefer Wordperfect to Microsoft Word when I last used it on a DOS system in 1989, but there is no current Linux version. (Wordperfect is not free, incidentally).
You can run Microsoft Office on Linux just fine. I did just that for a couple years. If you're in the mood for something free (in beer, not as in speech), you might want to give IBM Lotus Symphony 3.0 a try. I personally am quite fond of it, and considering that it's what's used internally throughout IBM... well... something tells me it's "business ready". ;)

Also, I'm just wondering, but what were the problems that you had with the free office software (and when?)
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Re: T30 viability

#22 Post by tiorapatea » Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:45 am

ThinkRob wrote:You can run Microsoft Office on Linux just fine. I did just that for a couple years.
Good point - with Wine, I presume? Never tried Wine, instinctively it just seems like too much of a kludge.
ThinkRob wrote:If you're in the mood for something free (in beer, not as in speech), you might want to give IBM Lotus Symphony 3.0 a try. I personally am quite fond of it, and considering that it's what's used internally throughout IBM... well... something tells me it's "business ready". ;)

Also, I'm just wondering, but what were the problems that you had with the free office software (and when?)
Symphony - is that Ami Pro and 123?

My problem with free office software is that there doesn't seem to be perfect compatibility with M$ stuff, and yet almost all professional stuff I encounter is in M$ format. This is almost certainly not the fault of the free software, but it is a problem nevertheless. Also, because I have used M$ stuff for so many years, I actually know some of the quirks and how to get stuff done that I need to do. Again, not a problem that I can pin on the free stuff.

I use Gnumeric a bit, which seems ok but the user interface seems a bit patchy and there is no scripting language like VBA. Also, it managed irretrievably to corrupt an important document of mine as I was trying to save it, and I had done a bit of work since bumping the version.

I don't know - maybe it's because I am on Debian Testing and I don't know how to set things up - but it just feels less polished, less stable. ***Submitting patch....*** :jhem:
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Re: T30 viability

#23 Post by ThinkRob » Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:46 am

tiorapatea wrote: Good point - with Wine, I presume? Never tried Wine, instinctively it just seems like too much of a kludge.
Yep. You can even use CrossOver Linux (the commercial counterpart to Wine, produced by the excellent company CodeWeavers) if you want professional support. It works and (for a lot of software) works very well.
Symphony - is that Ami Pro and 123?
Nope. It's an entirely new (as of 2007) office suite from IBM. Check it out: https://symphony.lotus.com/
My problem with free office software is that there doesn't seem to be perfect compatibility with M$ stuff, and yet almost all professional stuff I encounter is in M$ format. This is almost certainly not the fault of the free software, but it is a problem nevertheless. Also, because I have used M$ stuff for so many years, I actually know some of the quirks and how to get stuff done that I need to do. Again, not a problem that I can pin on the free stuff.
Fair enough. It's worth remembering that not even Microsoft has perfect compatibility with their own formats (as I discovered in my years using a Mac). Heck, they don't even fully support OOXML, and they wrote the spec! That said, I understand your sentiments regarding compatibility -- but I've gotta say, in the last two years or so I've been hard pressed to encounter a file from work that Symphony or OpenOffice (now LibreOffice) couldn't handle. That reminds me: another perk of Symphony is that it boasts (and indeed seems to have) slightly better compatibility with Microsoft formats than OpenOffice.

I realize that a free software environment is not for everyone, so if the above can't make for a solution that suits your needs... well... don't use it. :D It's just been my experience that some folks try some piece of software briefly, decide "well this sucks", and never consider it ever again. The software world -- both open and closed source, but especially the former -- can move extraordinarily quickly, and a product that was once inferior can become a competitive or even superior solution in a relatively short amount of time. (This is the reason that I try to evaluate at least every other release of a major distro, and the same reason that I test every major release of Windows.)

Best of luck!
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