Thursday, March 27, 2014

I Moved Into Ubuntu 13.10 On A SSD

I picked up a Chromebook some time ago, which my family learned to enjoy. Unfortunately, my son has taken it for his own, leaving me without a "computer". I can do plenty on my tablet; but, for some things you need an actual computer. Sometimes you need to run software that would make Android cry; sometimes you just need a real keyboard.

So, I put Ubuntu 13.10 on an old Vostro 1000 laptop. The laptop has seen better days. My first installation was on a standard HDD. It was a bit laggy. So today I picked up a 250 GB Samsung 840 EVO solid state drive that was at a good price locally. There were other drives available with better performance; but, I don't think I would be putting the extra speed to good use given that the laptop itself is pretty old.

The result is a noticable increase in performance. I also read up on optimizing Ubuntu for solid state drives, and followed the instructions.

Why It's Overkill

I was trucking along rather well on the Chromebook with only 16 GB of storage. I put all my information in the cloud, with some items stored locally on thumb drives and SSD cards. Consequently, most of the 16 GB is free. 250 GB for a Linux laptop is way more than I need to store I see myself continuing to store files in Google Drive or in other cloud storage services. After installing Ubuntu and the all important Google Chrome, I have more than 220 GB available, which will mostly remain empty. 

Minimizing writes to an SSD increases the device's longevity. That is my aim by minimally using all the extra space. The SSD controllers will spread out the writes throughout the entire available space to wear it out evenly, 

What I Expect Will Happen

My expectation with having a larger than necessary drive is that, barring any manufacturer defect, the drive will outlast the other components on the laptop. In fact, I expect that at some point Ubuntu will grow crufty and require re-installation a few times. Articles I have read have calculated a drive could last an average user between 20 and 50 years. No way the rest of my computer will last that long. At some point, I'll have to recycle the machine and move the drive to another. 

Ultimately, what I expect to get out of all this is worry free access to the web. I could have spent some money to buy another Chromebook; but, I already have a laptop that could be converted to a webtop, which is what I have, in effect, done. I expect to get another few years out of this old machine without additional investments.

UPDATE: When I wrote this, I was not aware of the specs for the drive. The standard Samsung 840 EVO only has 1,000 writes per cell. The Samsung 840 EVO Pro offers 3,000 to 5,000 writes per cell. There are some drives that cost way more and offer even more writes, up near 20,000. So, the 20 to 50 year estimate is for the Pro version. My version would rank somewhere near 7 years, which I still think is likely longer than the remainder of my laptop will last. 

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