March 2021 - UpCycling an old Dell Computer

As I mentioned in the previous article, I like to use Dreamweaver 8 for my web page work. It is quite old and was intended to be used with Windows XP. It runs (sort of) under Windows 7 - but not at all under Windows 10. It crashes quite often. Something it never did under XP. Dreamweaver was sold by Macromedia. The support back then was superb. Then they sold out to Adobe. Those of us in the I.T. world have stories about Adobe technical support. So I wouldn't upgrade to their latest version even if I wanted to (and could afford it). You would be pressed to find any support for Dreamweaver 8 crashing under Windows 10.

My work around has (up until now) been to run XP within a virtual machine environment under Windows 10. It works pretty flawlessly but you do have to "lend" some memory from the host machine to run the virtual machine. If I had a new Windows 10 machine it would have lots of memory and run faster anyway. As it is, I have the maximum four gigabytes of RAM already installed.

Dell 1100Then recently I spied an old Dell Dimension 1100 in the cupboard - and there it had sat for donkeys years. This had XP Professional installed and I recalled that the Windows 10 Remote Desktop utility could make the XP desktop appear in a window in Windows 10. That would mean that Dreamweaver would have a whole processor to itself - and within the operating system environment that it was born to live.

Fortunately, it was not the "Home" version of XP as that cannot be remotely controlled.

Perhaps you may be thinking how dangerous it is to use XP on the internet now - and you would be right. Sat behind a NAT router and with a personal firewall, it is as safe as all the other devices here at home. I also would not be using it to surf the internet or collect email. So the only exposure it has is when I FTP files to my websites.

Remote Connection

Once the XP machine has been configured to accept remote desktop connection it does not even need to have its own screen and keyboard. Once booted I execute the Windows 10 remote desktop client.

remote client

Then I click "connect".

The effect is a second desktop which I can flip between if I want to do something in Windows 10.

remote desktop

In my experience, Dell is not like Adobe at all. They do not wash their hands of a product even a decade after it became obsolete. If you need drivers and owners manuals, they are still available on the Dell support website. If you don't know what the model is, there is a "Tag Code" on the back or it is also recorded in the BIOS setup. Once armed with that you can search the Dell site and your model and all the associated files are still there.

So if this method of using an old computer is a better & faster way to create a virtual machine than running the whole application inside the host W10 computer, why not do the same with Linux?
I mention in the previous article how I program Arduinos in a virtual Linux environment.

I intend to try that and report back here. The article that says it is possible is here.


It worked - and that story is told in part 2.


Articles (2021)

February 2021
N6QW Direct Conversion Receiver
A Simple Radio to Build..

February 2021
10dB (ish) Attenuators
Simple Test Gear..

March 2021
Charlie's VFO and other Arduino projects
(Occasional Arduino Pain).

March 2021
UpCycling an old Dell Computer
(Saving an old PC from the landfill)

April 2021
Testing Schottky Diodes
(For use in diode ring mixers)

April 2021
"COPW". An alternative menu
(for the G3RJV DVD)

May 2021
Homebrew Double Balanced Mixers
(using the ZL2CTM method)

May 2021
Spectrum Analysers on the cheap
(but still doing useful work)

November 2021
Circuit Boards and the Dremel
Easy PCB's