A New Beastie, and an Old Slacker.

June 20, 2022

Greetings everyone. Been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I haven’t had the urge to do much of anything, honestly. However, I figured I’d post about a new acquisition and an old makeover.

Since the beginning of the year, I was looking to get a replacement for the Eee PC 901. Even though it’s still quite useful due to its size and upgrades, I wanted to get something just a little bigger and with more recent hardware. One day, I walked into BrandsMart and came across this laptop, an Evoo Elite Series EVC-141-12BK (the BK stands for black, though it’s more of a charcoal gray). The basic specs are the following:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3500U
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM (replaceable on the only SO-DIMM slot)
  • AMD Vega 8 graphics
  • 256 GB mSATA SSD with Windows 10, and a M.2 slot for a NVMe SSD.

I was quite impressed with the specs given the price at the beginning of the year (around US $300). Unfortunately, having spent money already on Christmas gifts for everyone, I had to wait before jumping on it. The keyboard had a nice feel for me, and it felt quite sturdy in spite of the price. As time went on, I noticed that it was very hard to come by and was no longer available at BrandsMart or even online. For the ones that were available, like the EVE-141-12SL (SL for silver), the price jumped up to over $400 (thanks, inflation). At this point, I thought I’d never be able to get this machine, until one day I searched and found a refurbished EVC141-12BK for US $255 on Walmart’s website ($273 after taxes and shipping at the time). I jumped on it and, within a week or so, I had the laptop in my possession.

Since it came with Windows 10, I figured I’d use a NVMe SSD on the available M.2 slot to install OpenBSD. Once that was located, I finally got OpenBSD 7.1-current installed on it. All that was left was to move my files from my current OpenBSD 7.1-current laptop, the Dell Latitude E6410 mentioned in my previous posts, once I got home.

My Evoo EVC141-12BK laptop running MATE Desktop on OpenBSD.

So far, OpenBSD has worked surprisingly well on this laptop. Even OpenGL games like Quake and others are well supported with amdgpu(4) with nary a crash, though I do notice that running MATE Screensaver with the Pop Squares screensaver has a tendency to freeze the machine on occasion. Battery life is about 4-5 hours depending on how intensive the applications are, which is fine for me. Suspend and resume works, but only when I use “zzz”. If I just close the lid, it can’t resume and I have to force-poweroff the laptop. I should see if I can get some system information and post it on the openbsd-misc or openbsd-bugs mailing list for the devs to look at. For now, though, “zzz” is an acceptable workaround.

Now, as for the Dell Latitude, it was “out with the old, and in with the new,” with something old, but new!

The Slackware Linux logo.

I know you’re wondering, “WTF?!,” but hear me out. Since I no longer needed OpenBSD on this laptop, I decided to give another OS a try. Relatively recently, Slackware 15.0 was unleashed to the world after 6 years of development in Slackware-current, unbeknownst to the mainstream FOSS world. I used to run Slackware as my primary Linux OS before moving over to Fedora for a number of years, but I always wanted to revisit Slackware on one of my numerous machines. Now, with Slackware 15.0 available and the Evoo taking over OpenBSD responsibilities, the Latitude was free to “achieve Slack.”

My Dell Latitude E6410 performing a terse installation of Slackware 15.0.

I made a USB installation disk with Slackware 15.0. and proceeded to go through the install. I wanted to take advantage of the UEFI support on the Dell which worked fine on OpenBSD. I partitioned everything as necessary, but once the installation was done, I realized that I had used cfdisk to partition instead of cgdisk for GPT partition tables (UEFI must use GPT tables), hence not being able to boot. Once that was corrected, I was finally able to boot to the login prompt without issue. During all of this, a feeling of nostalgia was hitting me, and I was so happy to be back in the world of Slack.

My Dell Latitude E6410 sitting at the Slackware 15.0 login prompt.

Once I brought the laptop home, I decided to move from the 15.0 stable branch over to -current. Doing that was easy (edit the /etc/slackpkg/mirrors.conf file accordingly), and I was then able to download the updated base packages since 15.0’s release. However, I did hit a snag when the kernel was updated. Previously, I was used to running “lilo -v” to update the kernel entries after the kernel was updated. However, since I’m using UEFI, I had to use elilo which I wasn’t familiar with. Thus, I ended up booting to an older kernel that had no working modules. I had to boot from the USB installer and manually move over the kernel and initrd image to the EFI partition after I was able to mount it. Once that was done, I was back in business with the correct kernel and initrd image. It seems the process is much easier now and you don’t have to run anything; just copy over “vmlinuz” and “initrd.gz” from /boot over to the mounted EFI partition in /boot/efi before rebooting to the newly installed kernel (for me, that’s /boot/efi/EFI/Slackware).

So, how does Slackware 15.0 fare on this old hardware? Well, all I can say is that it’s FAST! Really FAST! Considering this laptop is running with a Core i5-520M, I was extremely impressed. Much faster than OpenBSD (though OpenBSD is known to be slower compared to Linux). Heck, I’m even using KDE Plasma 5.25 as of this post and I’m also impressed at how far Plasma has come along in terms of speed, so much so that MATE Desktop’s dominance might be threatened in my future! There are still some things that I’d like to see on Plasma before I move over completely, but otherwise, it’s become a formidable contender to MATE for me. The same goes for Fedora’s dominance on my main systems. Slackware has really come a long way since I last used it a few years ago on much older hardware (32-bit Pentium-M laptop a few years ago and my desktop rig before it until I moved to Fedora).

My Dell Latitude E6410 running KDE Plasma 5.25 on Slackware 15.0.

So that’s pretty much it! Thus far, I’m very happy with these two laptops after they’ve had their makeovers. I still use my Fedora laptop (HP ProBook 4540s) as my workhorse, especially for work, but this trifecta of systems will keep me well-armed for many years to come.

Now to see what I can put Haiku on… 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: