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Not Quite Research

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Laptop hard drive
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After a bit over three years of use, the 60 gigabyte hard drive in my Vaio VGN-TX670P has been hovering close to full for awhile now. In addition to the gradual accretion of Windows Update files, it contained:
  • Full checkouts of the Gwydion Dylan/Open Dylan , Monday and gcc source code repositories
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition, the platform SDK, etc.
  • The Logos Scholar's Library and various add-on dictionaries, lexicons, and commentaries, for a total of around three gigabytes of stuff (that would weigh who knows how many hundreds of pounds if it were printed on dead trees)
  • Outlook 2003's cached local copies of messages from my home IMAP server, containing e-mail going back to 1996.
  • Digital photos going back to 2005
  • Music and podcasts (I sometimes say I carry a three-pound iPod)
  • coLinux and a full Debian Etch disk image
Rather than making the difficult and painful decisions about what to get rid of, I decided it would be better to just upgrade the hard drive. I managed to find a suitable hard drive with double the original capacity, a Toshiba MK1214GAH, at a reasonable price. However, when it arrived and I opened up the Vaio (using instructions I found here), I discovered that the new disk had a ZIF (zero insertion force) connector, and the connector on the old drive was a Toshiba 50-pin IDE connector. There wasn't much I could do about that, so I put everything back together again and looked for another way.

Newer Vaio TX models used a ZIF connector, but I was unable to determine what the right FPC part number would be. (Plus, they were all fairly expensive.) Fortunately, I managed to find an adapter that would allow me to connect the new drive to the old connector. I ended up waiting another week for the adapter to arrive from Hong Kong.

The steps of the final upgrade were:

  1. Boot the Vaio using the Recovery is Possible Linux LiveCD
  2. Connect the Vaio to my home wired Ethernet, and mount /home on my FreeBSD desktop hard drive over NFS
  3. Copy an image of the original hard drive to a file on the server using dd. (This took about 4 hours.)
  4. Take the Vaio apart and (very gingerly) disconnect and remove the old hard drive
  5. Connect the adapter to the new hard drive, making sure to get the cable polarity correct (matching up pin 1 on both connectors)
  6. Move the rubber cushions from the old hard drive to the new one
  7. Folding the flat cable in an S curve, plug the adapter into the FPC connector and put the hard drive in the place of the old one. The new drive is a little shorter than the old one, but because it's sitting on top of the adapter it sticks up a little on the connector side. This results in the laptop case not quite snapping together, but it is barely perceptable.
  8. Put the Vaio back together again and boot Recovery is Possible to verify that the new hard drive is working
  9. Mount the NFS drive and copy the image file onto the new disk with dd.
  10. Reboot into XP to make sure everything is working
  11. Boot into Recovery is Possible again, and use fdisk to resize the main partition. (Linux fdisk is a bit raw, but it works.)
  12. Use ntfsresize to resize the filesystem to fit the partition
  13. Boot into XP (which will cause an automatic filesystem check at startup)
  14. Defragment the filesystem, now that there is room to do so
  15. Enjoy the freedom afforded by an abundance of disk space

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