Got a new PC


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Jun 3, 2023
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... Well, new to me, anyway.

A friend, whose significant other passed away and left behind a PC, gave me the whole setup. I was expecting some junk that I would strip of anything valuable and then toss but I was pleasantly surprised to be handed a 22" AOC monitor (1920x1080) and a 2012 vintage ThinkStation:

Lenovo Thinkstation E31 (Small Form  Factor (SFF) tower - no full height slots - all pcie slots empty)
  3695H1U (LENOVO_MT_3695)
  MFR Date: 1208 (August, 2012)

  Motherboard: LENOVO MAHOBAY
  BIOS:        Lenovo version: 9SKT9CAUS 12/11/2018
  CPU:         Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3550 CPU @ 3.30GHz
               (4 cores / 4 threads, launched Q2 of 2012)
  RAM:         8 GB (4GB DDR3 in bank 1, 4GB DDR3 in bank 3,
               banks 0 and 2 are empty)
  HD:          WDC WD3200AAKS-6 - 3.5", 300-ish GB w/Win7 Pro 64 installed
  Graphics:    Xeon E3-1200 v2/3rd Gen Core processor Graphics Controller 
  NIC:         82579LM Gigabit Network Connection (Lewisville)
  Optical Drive:     PLDS DVD-RW DH16ACSH
  Ports:       1 legacy 9-pin serial
               4 USB 2 (2 front, 2 back)
               4 USB 3.0 "SS" (all on back)
               1 vga 15-pin
               1 display port
               1 GbE
               multi format media reader
               microphone and headphone jacks front and back
Yeah, it came with a crappy old mouse and keyboard (both wired), but for the low low price of -nothing-, I'm not going to complain. I know it's twelve years old, but I'll admit to not being shy about old computers - my current Windows box is older than that. He even gave me the printer - a fairly recent HP Envy.

The OS is good old Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit, which he had a relative "clear out" - though it still has the previous owner's user name as the admin account (w/o any password). The inside of the box is surprisingly clean so I suspect the previous owner bought the thing as a refurb in the not too distant past. Neither the HD not the fans are making any undue noise, so probably good there.

If I decide to use it as a Windows platform, I'll probably install a bunch of Cygwin stuff like I have on my 32 bit Win7Pro box. But more likely I'll put Linux and one or more USB 3 external hard disks on it and turn it into a file dump because the box that's currently serving that purpose doesn't have any USB 3 ports (it also doesn't have any external hard disks for that reason).

I booted the Lenovo with Tiny Core Linux 15.0 (x86_64) from a USB 2 thumb drive (plugged into a USB 3 port, but -whatever-) and timed the bootup - I got a desktop in 34 seconds from the time I hit ENTER on the grub menu. That's with a fair amount of applications in the "onboot" list, so the machine's not too slow.

Virtually the same spec as my 3 years younger HP prodesk your 3rd gen CPU has the same power curve as my 5th gen.
I got a low profile PCIE to M2 NVMe adaptor and fitted an NVMe card [made one hell of a difference]
I toyed with the idea of finagling an ssd into it, and I might still go there some day... On the other hand, that would take it out of the realm of "free" (which really fits my budget pretty well right now). :)

Windows would probably benefit hugely from having an SSD as the boot drive... though I'm not clear about how to migrate Windows 7 from one drive to another, regardless of drive type.

Linux, not so much... for Tiny Core, if disk speed becomes an issue, 8 GB is enough RAM to load all (copy2fs.flg) or selected (copy2fs.lst) software into RAM at boot time and still have plenty left for regular operation, then just spin down the HD and (possibly) never touch it for months at a time.

My prospective use case of using the Lenovo as a file dump (which, upon further reflection, really seems like kind of a waste) doesn't really allow me to actually "never touch the HD for months at a time".

Lots of points to think about.

In the mean time, I did try booting Tiny Core with "copy2fs.flg" to load everything into RAM. It used up about 3/4 of GB more RAM at idle and took about eleven seconds longer to boot (from hitting enter on the grub menu to showing the desktop). I suppose if I didn't load up heavy stuff like libreoffice and the gimp (both of which I hardly ever use), both the RAM usage and the boot time would improve by some small amount.

Actually -running- apps that are loaded to the RAM disk is faster than running them from a mounted squashfs (on a USB 2 stick) - but not so much so that it matters -to me-. From clicking the icon to getting a fully loaded application window for gimp 2.99 took 6.45 seconds from the RAM disk and 7.29 seconds from a mounted squashfs. With that little difference for a relatively huge application, it hardly seems worth worrying about.

I have no idea how, in practical terms, the speed of the USB stick compares to the spinning platter HD, nor to an SSD. Just for giggles, I'll probably try a USB 3 stick later this weekend. I might even try a regular HD, too, though not the one that has Win7 on it.
the following are theory transfer rates [speed] [make and configuration will make a slight difference]

SATA 3 plate spinner 160 MBS
M2 NVMe 2,000 MBS [PCIE 2] 3500 MBS [PCIE 3]
Dang it! If I end up spending money on this thing, I'm blaming you.

2000 or 3500 MBS... YeeeHa!
I'm blaming you.
I did say the following are theory transfer rates, I can tell you the boot time on my machine was cut dramatically, Mine is only PCIe 2
As it turns out, I have a $25.00 Amazon gift card in my wallet -right now- (and I never actually shop Amazon)... and I know someone nearby who has Amazon Prime for free shipping... and I can get an adapter and a modest sized M.2 thingy from Amazon for -just over- 25 bucks (of course), so ima give it a whirl. And you're off the hook blame-wise since the gift card doesn't really count. ;)

In the mean time, I found my 256 GB Sandisk USB 3 stick and copied the contents of it elsewhere so in an hour or so I'll know how much difference USB 3 makes, if any. At some point I'll (maybe) put together a table with real world timing for booting from HD, SSD USB 2 and USB 3.
$25.00 Amazon gift card i
Lucky boy
my pcie-m2 NVMe adaptor was only around 7 us bucks or 5 quid English, and I only got a small NVMe to put the OS on, and kept the plate spinner for storage
I'm looking at a 128 GB SSD (which seems silly, since the USB 3 stick I'm fooling around with now is twice that size but whatever - the USB 2 stick that I copied the boot system from is only 16 GB and it was mostly free space. I'll probably leave the plate spinner untouched from the linux side and just reserve it for Windows. If I decide to use this box in my backup scheme, I'll drop a much bigger HD into it.

The speed testing with the USB 3 stick showed some improvement: Just over 30 seconds for a "normal" boot (applications mounted)as opposed to 36 seconds with "copy2fs". Running gimp2.99 (in normal mode) was a second or so faster on USB 3 than on USB 2. So for USB booting, 2.0 vs 3.0 doesn't seem to make enough difference to be a big consideration.

FWIW the USB 2 stick is a Lexar and the USB 3 stick is a Sandisk, so not super junky even if they did both come from Walmart.

Going off line now - g'night.
the following are theory transfer rates [speed] [make and configuration will make a slight difference]

SATA 3 plate spinner 160 MBS
M2 NVMe 2,000 MBS [PCIE 2] 3500 MBS [PCIE 3]
I'm not too far off that. My primary on the HP desktop rig - a 1 TB Crucial MX500 SSD - is pretty close; if I run the 'dd'-based 'DriveSpeed!' ( a utility I put together that uses dd's ability to test and output data transfer rates), I consistently get a write speed of around 290 MB/s, and read speeds that vary slightly from 490 MB/s - 505 MB/s. Which, for the way Puppy functions, is plenty fast enough; the only time read speed really counts is at boot, and write speed only comes into its own at shutdown (when Puppy is saving back to the save-file/folder).

The rest of the time, she's running entirely in RAM.......which is an order of magnitude faster still, though current Nvme drives are approaching those kind of speeds nowadays.

I have an M2 : 2280 slot here, though I doubt I shall ever bother with it. I've got 5 TB+ of storage as it is.......and only half of that is yet in use.

Mike. ;)

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