I'm due a new laptop; my Portege R200 is over 4 years old now, I find it much slower than my desktop (no surprise; P-M 1.2GHz/1.2GB vs Core 2 2GHz/4GB), it's had a new battery and it has an annoying whine on the screen unless you press the side in just the right way. It's still better for long periods of use than my EEE 901, which is why I keep it. In particular I'm off to LCA2010 in January, along with some associated travel beforehand, and I'll want more than the EEE for that, but probably not a brand new laptop. Which meant that when the R200 started throwing disk errors recently I wasn't particularly happy.

Having decided it wasn't worth buying a new 1.8" drive I looked for alternatives. eBay offered plenty of options for 1.8" IDE to CF adaptors and I picked up a Kingston 32GB CF card from eBuyer. I copied across the data from the old drive using a USB adaptor, frobbed grub sufficiently that I got it installed on the CF, then swapped out the drive for the adaptor + CF. I had to do the swap a few times; the first I forgot to have a kernel with ext2 support (the HDD was ext3, but I went back to ext2 for the CF). The second I'd done my usual trick of forgetting to populate /dev with things like console and sda* (ie enough to get to the point where udev will run). And then grub needed some prodding to boot without intervention. I got there in the end and I'm currently writing this from said laptop.

I've made a few changes to the Debian install in an attempt to make things smoother; basically the same tricks people have been using on EEEs or other slow SSD devices. No swap, Iceweasel synchronous toolkit writes disabled, filesystems mounted with noatime, /tmp on tmpfs, various daemons that I don't really use disabled. It's still noticably slower than with the HDD, particularly on writes. However it's quieter and as long as it lasts for the next 3 months I'm happy (plus after that I can reuse the 32G CF card somewhere else, which I couldn't have done with a 1.8" HDD as easily).

Now, back to eyeing the Lenovo X200s (ugly, trackpoint but 1440x900 display, good battery life) and Toshiba R600 (slower, lower res but pretty and trackpad).as potential replacements. Maybe there'll be something even shinier in 12" by next year...