FYI: For my friends still in the Pacific Northwest, I'm headed up there...for two weeks starting labor day weekend. I'm really looking forward to it.
I've been making some changes in the computer stable. I switched out my prized Voodoo 5 card in my Duron box for a passively cooled Voodoo 3. It's not like I do a ton of 3D gaming, and the fans on the Voodoo 5 were starting to go. It did give me three years of good service, and that was a hand-me-down from Nate Bollig of my Navy days. I got rid of another machine as well; the second of the two rack mount boxes Mark gave me is gone. I gave it to my co-admin, who didn't have a dedicated Linux box at home and could use the box to learn.
In spite of that, on Friday something just drew me in to ASU surplus on the way to work from the datacenter. I didn't see anything and then a sweet Lombard G3 PowerBook caught my eye. The iBook is getting a little beat down, and the 800x600 screen was starting to grate on me, so I decided to take a look at the Lombard. Apart from a thrashed battery, it was fine, if a little dirty. I got it for $150 (down from $195), which turned out to be pretty decent. They're still selling for $400 in places. I cleaned it up and set about finding it a suitable OS for my next road warrior box.
I've officially decided that Yellowdog Linux 4 sucks. It's *really* bad, which is surprising, since YDL 3, which I have on my iBook, is great. But practically everything has regressed. Hardware detection is god awful; it couldn't create a working X on the Lombard, so I had to h4x0r it. It also screwed up the module alias for the ethernet device. As long as I've used PCI ethernet cards, I've never seen this happen, short of unsupported hardware.
The other thing about it is bloat. This is becoming a *big* problem for Fedora based distros, and YDL 4 is no exception. In spite of me de-checking a ton of stuff, it installed over 2 gig worth of crap. I don't get it. There has got to be a better way. Fedora is turning an OS I love into crap. It's getting buggy too. So now I'm considering Gentoo, but I may take the plunge and kick my own ass with some OpenBSD. At least the hard disk footprint will be smaller. The Lombard only has a 4 gig disk, and I don't feel like taking it or the iBook apart to switch drives. I had to replace the iBook drive last year with a new one. I picked up a nice 30 gig drive, which I could dig out of the iBook and swap, but the install process on the clamshell iBooks is nothing short of pure torture. You take the entire thing apart, piece by piece. If I were going to do it again, I'd pick up a new CDROM mechanism for it.
I ordered a new battery for the Lombard today. I think it's going to become my new road warrior. I looked at rebuilding the existing battery; it uses standard 18650 size cylindrical Li-Ion cells, and you can get them online from some places. There are some write-ups from others who have rebuilt Li-Ion battery packs before and have been successful. In the end, though, I pussied out for a few reasons. First, Li-Ion cells aren't cheap; the cheapest ones I could find were $4.99 each, and since I'd need nine of them, I was halfway to a new pack right there. Who knows how old those cells were, and how chinsy the manufacturer was. The other thing is that I've tried rebuiilding a few packs before, with older PowerBooks, and I've never been that successful. Since I had no way to weld the connection to the battery like a factory pack, I either had to use solder tabbed cells and cut the tabs down so they wouldn't short and still route the wiring without using too much space, or try to solder directly to the cells. Neither option worked too well. Even when they worked, the re-worked packs were kind of mechanically sensitive as well. I think if I really sat down and did it well, I could build a good pack, but for whatever reason, laptop battery packs always seemed more challenging than radio or calculator packs.
Well I'm late for some much needed bicycling.