About a month ago, I was cleaning out some old computer bins, and I stumbled across an old (2012) MacBook Air. I started to chunk it in the trash (i mean, figure out how to recylce it responsibly), but I opened the thing up and remembered just how a nice a form-factor the early Air's were. I mean that keyboard... it's way nicer the what we have now.
This is my story.
- A 2012 MacBook Air, 13"
- CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3427U CPU @ 1.80GHz. 2 Cores, 2 threads.
- RAM: 4Gb (yikes)
- Disk: 128Gb SSD (just over 120Gb are usable)
- Battery: It was completely dead. I could boot the computer while it was plugged in, but it would die immediately if unplugged. Good News! You can buy replacement batteries on Amazon & they're super easy to replace.
I decided to install Linux Mint, well because I heard it was nice. I put the installation media on a USB drive and honestly, this was so stupidly easy I don't even remember it. I just followed all the default recommendations.
I realize I'm using a 12-year-old piece of computing hardware. My expectations aren't exactly high, but this has been an interesting experiment in trying to revive an old piece of hardware.
- It works!
- I have a full-featured command-line environment with lots of tools I know how to use.
- gvim is still a nice tool for development (my vim skills are a little rusty, but I'm getting there).
- The new battery makes this usable without being plugged in.
- 4Gb is just really not enough.
- Opening more than 4-5 tabs in firefox is likely to completely lock up the machine.
- Trying to run VSCode (Flatpack) locked up the machine.
- Running to run the Slack app (Flatpack) locked up the machine.
- Turns out this thing actually has a fan and it can run pretty darn fast.
This thing basically feels like an under-powered Chromebook (but with firefox). It's perfectly fine for doing work on the command line. Gvim works fine on medium-sized projects, but for any sort of heavy web-browsing it just doesn't work.
Even after following a number of steps from this post on improving Mint's performance, it's still not a great experience. I'll probably keep this for a while for light personal projects. I don't think I could use this machine for real work. I need too many browser tabs for that.