I own a Dell Inspiron 6000 which has served me well for a couple of years. I have seen no reason to buy a new one, but I have wanted to keep it running well, so I have embarked on a series of upgrades. The first was a memory upgrade from 512MB to 1280 MB. That was pretty simple. I bought a 1024MB stick of memory and replaced one of the 256 MB sticks that I had. It took about five minutes.
Last night I upgraded my hard disk. The laptop came with a 40GB hard disk and since I dual boot linux and windows, I was limited to about 20 GB for each. As my music and photo collections have grown it was impossible to fit everything on the laptop. I looked into laptop hard drives and discovered that basically all laptops built in recent years run 2.5 in EIDE drives and that I could get an 80GB drive online for about $90.
The hardware was relatively easy to switch. I removed two screws and a small drawer that holds the drive slid out. The drive was held by two screws to the drawer. I removed them and inserted the new drive. There is a small adapter that attaches to the drive and then plugs into the computer. I did not remove it from the old drive and attach it to the new one, which resulted in the computer thinking it did not have hard drive. After scratching my head for a bit I pulled the drive out again and discovered my mistake. I moved the adapter to the new drive and tried again. The computer still did not see the hard drive. I pulled it again and discovered that the adapter was on only row of the two rows of pins. When the adapter was correctly installed the computer recognized the disk.
Now the real fun started. I had copied the windows partition to an external USB disk using partimage which comes on the the System Rescue CD. I copied it back using the same tools. Since I did not yet have a master boot record, I installed Ubuntu 6.10, which set up grub, a multiboot manager, to boot both windows and Ubuntu. I was able to mount the windows partition from Ubuntu and saw that I could read it.
The final test was booting it windows. I selected Windows from the grub menu and it reported “Starting up…” and then nothing. Oh well. I will have something to do tonight.
Update: Wireless did not work out of the box. I had download the windows driver and extract the firmware to get it working. I had done that before, but I did not back up the linux partition since I planned to do a new install.