There are many Libretto users out there who are considering replacing the hard disk for a solid state flash disk. The reason for this is that a solid state draws a lot
less power, is silent, more durable and tends to have a higher read speed. However a solid state flash drive only has a limited number of write cycles, so intensive
writing to one area of the flash disk (e.g. Windows pagefile) will wear that area out quite quickly. On the other hand, most flash disks have an averaging system called
wear levelling, where the one piece of data (such as the Windows pagefile) is not just written to that one area on the flash disk, but spread over the whole volume, to
make the overall flash disk last longer. There are already a few laptops on the market such as the Asus eee-pc, which use a flash disk instead of a hard disk.
I have been looking around for a solid state disk to replace my Libretto 110CT's 4GB hard disk, but the best I can find for a good price is a IDE to Compact Flash adapter. I already had one of these which I had purchased for another project, along with a 128MB CF card, so I decided to give it a go on my Libretto. The 128MB card has MS-DOS installed on it, so the most I would need to do is put it in the Libretto and see how well it works. I may grab the 256MB CF Card that's lying around the house and install a minimal install of Windows on it to see how well it performs.
This is the Compact Flash card adapter with the Compact Flash card inserted. As you can see the converter has the standard IDE pins for a laptop at the end
Turn over the Libretto, and you will see 2 screws on the edge by the port replicator socket, unscrew them
There is the hard disk. Very gently prise it out.
Here is the hard disk once out
As you can see, there is a big space before you get to the IDE socket - this is going to be a very fiddly job, unless...
You remove the cover, allowing you to easily gain access
Now I have easy access to the IDE port
I tried fitting it in, but the soldered pins underneath were making it a very tight squeeze (I think I broke off a diode or something on the motherboard when I tried, but it still worked so hopefully I won't run into problems). Therefore, using very small scissors on a Swiss Army Knife, I cut them down, resulting in a lower height and smoother ends. Also I had to bend one of the connection pins, as the Libretto IDE socket has one of the connections blocked.
Before fixing it in, I recommend putting a slip of paper underneath, just to protect the components on the motherboard from damage (just to be on the safe side), as the pins could possible pierce the plastic sheet which separates the underside of the motherboard from the hard drive bay.
Screwed it all back together, and presto, it works! The Libretto boots off the DOS installation on the CF card silently. I have ordered a high speed 4GB compact flash card, because I liked the way it was so silent. Hopefully, it should be quicker/just as quick as the hard disk I pulled out, as the website (ebuyer.com) claims it can write at a sustained rate of 20MBs.
Installing XP onto the CF cardIt does complicate things a bit more when installing XP onto the CF card, as the CF card is usually recognised as a removable device, causing all sorts of problems with virtual memory, etc. View the forum post here on how to work around this issue.
Find PartsYou can find the required bits from eBay: