Grisoft AVG works as advertised. If you don’t want to pay for virus protection, do yourself and your friends a favor and head over to Grisoft and download the free edition of AVG. I used it Monday night to disinfect a friend’s PC that had become infected by the infamous KAK virus.
Free-for-personal-use anti-virus tools have a nasty habit of becoming un-free within a year or two of their release, but look at it this way: AVG at least saves you a year or two of paying for virus update subscriptions.

It’s not as whiz-bang as the tools from Norton or McAfee but it works. You can’t get as fine-grained about scheduling stuff but that doesn’t matter so much. You can schedule things like scans and updates, and it does find and isolate the viruses, and you can’t beat the price. Go get it.

Linux on vintage P2s. I helped Gatermann get Debian up and running on his vintage HP Kayak workstation last night. This is an early P2-266 workstation. Gatermann marveled at how it was put together, and with the calibre of components in it. It had a high-end (for its time) Matrox AGP card in it, plus onboard Adaptec Wide SCSI, 128 MB of ECC SDRAM, and a 10,000-RPM IBM Wide SCSI hard drive. It arrived stripped of its original network card; Gatermann installed an Intel EtherExpress Pro.

In its day, this was the best Intel-based workstation money could buy, and you needed a lot of it. Of course, back in that day I was working on the copydesk of a weekly magazine in Columbia, Mo. and chasing a girl named Rachel (who I would catch, then lose, about a year later). And I probably hadn’t turned 22 yet either. Needless to say, that was a while ago. It seems like 100 years ago now.

Today, the most impressive thing about the system is its original price tag, but it remains a solidly built system that’s very useful and very upgradable. He can add another CPU, and depending on what variation his particular model is, he can possibly upgrade to as much as a P2-450. A pair of 450s is nothing to turn your nose up at. And of course he can add a variety of SCSI hard drives to it.

Debian runs fine on the system; its inability to boot doesn’t bother me too much. I occasionally run across systems that just won’t boot a Linux CD, but once I manage to get them running (either by putting the drive in another PC for the installation process or by using a pair of boot floppies to get started) they run fine.

The system didn’t want to boot Debian on CD, or any other Linux for that matter. So we made a set of boot floppies, then all was well.

The batch that this computer came from is long gone, but I expect more to continue to appear on the used market as they trickle out of the firms that bought them. They are, after all, long since obsolete for their original purpose. But they’re a bargain. These systems will remain useful for several years, and are built well enough that they probably will be totally obsolete before they break.