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Dell Latitude D630 Tumbleweed Refresh

posted Jun 22, 2017, 11:16 AM by Nathan Wolf   [ updated Jun 22, 2017, 11:16 AM ]

I am not quick to buy new things, though I did replace my Dell Latitude D630 about three months ago with a newer Dell latitude E6440. My plan was to deprecate the machine and put it on a "reserve only" status. In my process of setting up the E6440, I found that I used my D630 still but quite differently, it became my home station machine and my E6440 would be my mobile machine that would return back to "base" where I would have it connect as a client to the D630 for keyboard and mouse. It was a rather nice arrangement. 

Unfortunately, the hard drive died on the D630 and I needed to install openSUSE once again on it in order to continue to use my workspace as I have been. What is $50 on a new hard drive to restore my SuperCubicle, right? 

This time I decided to go for Tumbleweed instead of the usual Leap install. I was concerned about the need for the Nvidia drivers and a year ago when I tried Tumbleweed on it, it didn't go so well. The machine would have lock ups, shut down and occasionally get the flashing lights that indicated video failure from the open source Nouveau drivers. The proprietary drivers were at times problematic, even in Leap, but at least stable enough to get work done. 

I run KDE Plasma for my desktop. I've tried others but the customization options in KDE Plasma just  fits my personal tastes best. I have also been real happy with the speed improvements of KDE Plasma in the last couple years and especially those of KDE Plasma 5.10 on Tumbleweed as of late.

Thankfully this is a Latitude series so the actual process of changing out a hard drive took all of four minutes. The installation of Tumbleweed was also super simple, as expected. I added my Base Application Set to the machine for my multimedia goodies and Smart Card software.

Specification wise, it is nothing impressive, it is quite old. Good at the time this D630 has an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T9500 @ 2.60GHz, 8GB of RAM, 1 TB SSHD, Nvidia Quadro NVS 135M graphics card (known for burning out early in life) with the highest resolution screen available at the time of 1440x900. 

I have been using Syncthing to synchronize the files back to this machine. Although it has been slow it has been a problem free experience.

Suspend is seemingly working perfectly. Granted, I haven't put it through the paces of being a mobile machine but I have tested it enough to say that this feature is reliable enough.

The D630 has been operational for about a week now and it has yet to glitch out. It has had several rounds of updates come thru and they have all be problem free. My experience with the latest Nouveau drivers with Kernel 4.11.5 is that they are smoother and more responsive than the proprietary drivers. Although 10 years old, the D630 feels snappy and new, It is almost like I rolled its age back by 6 years considering how great this thing functions now.

Final Thoughts

Looks like I won't retire this 10 year old machine, for now. It will act once again as my main home machine, for administrative (not as much fun) type of work. Thank you openSUSE and everyone involved in the development of Linux and all of the related applications for giving me the gift of breathing new life into old hardware.

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