I'm Selling My Laptop

I’m selling my laptop on eBay. It’s basically new, although the box has been opened. I wanted to downgrade the OS, but learned that one of the key drivers—it controls the camera and the hibernate function—was only available for Vista.

So it’s up for sale, at a good price.

ETA: It’s been sold.

Posted on June 10, 2009 at 11:47 AM52 Comments


pegr June 10, 2009 12:46 PM

Somebody bought it with “But It Now”, crap!

I’m sure somebody in the IT Security group where I work would have bought it.

“This machine has ‘l33t skillz”! It was formerly owned by Bruce Schneier!”

(Actually, they would just say “Bruce”, as Schneier would be assumed… 😉

Brian June 10, 2009 12:46 PM

Might I ask why you’re looking to downgrade? As a security researcher, you of all people should know that Vista isn’t the spawn of evil the media portrays it as and have several huge leaps in security and usability.

derf June 10, 2009 12:49 PM

Win 7 isn’t demonstrably better than Vista. The main difference between the two OS releases is that the Microsoft marketing machine has spent itself into a frenzy to make sure the previews are positive this time.

Mike June 10, 2009 12:52 PM

You really should’ve let it get auctioned. I think you would’ve gotten more for it than what you got.

Team America June 10, 2009 1:04 PM

I was willing to forgive Sony the thing with the root-kit, but ever since I bought a Walkman and discovered I couldn’t just copy mp3’s to the filesystem, I’m playing on a grim strategy: I will never buy anything from a company with that name again.

Annika June 10, 2009 1:06 PM

Nice machine, but I just got myself a new MacBook and I’m totally content. By the way, I’m a bit surprised that you use Windows. Isn’t Linux a bit more interesting for a security researcher to play with? I have found that Windows just has too limited capabilities (hell, it doesn’t even have a decent command line).

Joe June 10, 2009 1:09 PM

I am vry intertersted in this computer. I would like to pay by cerfified check, which I will write for $500 mre tahn the cost of the computer for your trouble.


Ian June 10, 2009 1:25 PM

Headline next week:

“Computer security researcher Bruce Schneier has egg on his face after selling laptop on eBay with personal tax records.”

Seriously, man, if I were in your position I would never, ever sell something like a computer. Fate, Murphy’s Law, etc.

Sam June 10, 2009 1:27 PM

@Derf: spoken like someone who hasn’t ever run 7. It’s head and shoulders faster than vista, and the UI is more consistent.

Annika June 10, 2009 1:34 PM

Ian, I seriously don’t think so. There have been quite a few comments by security researchers recently that even overwriting a hard disk once is enough with modern disks. So, wipe it, reinstall/recover OS, and there you go. Should be safe. Even better: Encrypt all the important files in the first place. You should do that anyway, in case the laptop ever gets stolen. And if you sell it later, even if someone could restore the files he couldn’t read them.

Tom June 10, 2009 1:36 PM

I was hoping to get the machine just in case Bruce left info on the “back door” to twofish 🙂

PackagedBlue June 10, 2009 1:53 PM

“Its basically new.” And some of these comments.

A gift probably for Bruce? Smart, I wouldn’t accept gifts.

A sony? Grr. Some new ARM minis are cute, and no microcode on some ARM.

Overrite once is only good enough for kittens, pressing buttons on the turned on computer.

Even a dog or maybe a raccon, would think up playing with the soundcard, and some holes in the drive.
SECURITY ERASE UNIT might take more, but come on.

Kashmarek June 10, 2009 2:22 PM

This post, on a “security” blog, makes me think it was a “honeypot”, to see what it would attract. The guy who bought that laptop should think twice…

Fred P June 10, 2009 2:25 PM

@DC, Sam-

I don’t think that your pro-Windows 7 comments are exactly selling points for this blog – particularly since you’re suggesting that it’s better than /Vista/ (and you’re concentrating on the wrong “features”).

I guess you at least aren’t trying to suggest that they’re “better” than Windows ME…

Anonymous June 10, 2009 3:36 PM

OpenBSD might be like a good saving sword, but still things are still very far from fsck ok. Hard core? GRR.

Computer security, is just like Pulp Fiction.

Anonymous June 10, 2009 3:59 PM

“@Derf: spoken like someone who hasn’t ever run 7. It’s head and shoulders faster than vista, and the UI is more consistent.”

Spoken like someone who has not read any of the many, many benchmarks comparing XP, Windows 7, and Vista. Windows 7 is in some case very slightly faster than Vista and in some case actually slower. Both are still much slower than XP.

Google is your friend.

Oh and yes I have run Windows 7 extensively.

nick June 10, 2009 4:30 PM

PackagedBlue, your comments, including your anonymous comment about pulp fiction, just don’t make sense. What’s your native language?

You can’t just translate literally, word-for-word, into English.

sooth sayer June 10, 2009 4:48 PM

I am surprised they let you list it as “NEW” Ebay will most likely kick your listing unless you have some beans on Ms. Bartz

Simon June 10, 2009 5:28 PM

Benchmarks, smenchmarks. I ran Vista for 16 months, and now Windows 7 for three months, and Win 7 is a huge improvement over Vista in terms of usability and speed. As much as I hate saying it, Microsoft appears to have got it right this time shudders.

Of course it’s still an OS you have to pay for, and I still dual boot with Ubuntu for all my ‘nix security tools.

1915bond June 10, 2009 5:54 PM

how utterly disappointing – not even one mention of “upgrading” to linux. oops…I just did.

Pat Cahalan June 10, 2009 6:00 PM

I downgraded my tablet from Vista to Tablet PC 2005, because Vista was using 462 MB of RAM and 432 MB of swap out of the box.

All other things being equal, that’s a pretty compelling reason not to use an OS, right there.

Brian June 10, 2009 9:47 PM

Pat Cahalan: Unused RAM is wasted Performance. Superfetch makes the system more responsive, and if any of that RAM is needed by programs it’s freed instantly with no performance loss.

Mark J. June 10, 2009 10:22 PM

Ugh. Sony Vaio = Fail. Vista = Fail.

The boss insists on Vaio laptops. I’m not a fan at all. And despite the 3.2 people per million who claim Vista is better than XP, I still can’t stand that OS. Even MS reps refer to Vista with words like “disaster” and “horror show.”

All just MHO, of course.

Rich Wilson June 11, 2009 1:57 AM

All this advice to Bruce as to which OS he should run fails to consider what Bruce intends to do with it.

For some people the car or computer they pick is a status symbol. For others they’re just tools.

Troy June 11, 2009 4:27 AM

Rich Wilson, you make me so glad that not everybody is on the “you should be using my favourite OS!” bandwagon. Everyone should use the system that’s most appropriate for themselves.

Personally, tried a mac but it didn’t really do what me and my wife wanted. Would I recommend a mac to other people? Absolutely! But when the machine was stolen, I asked to be paid out in cash cause it’s just not the right OS for me.

Having said that, I’m also curious as to your reasons for wanting to downgrade, Bruce, and what you were planning on downgrading to.

Lastly, to the paranoiacs, selling one laptop on ebay is not the most efficient or effective mechanism for starting a honeypot.

Fred P June 11, 2009 10:24 AM

From several of the comments above, I glanced at information about Windows 7. I’m surprised that there’s any passion about an OS that hasn’t even been /released/ yet.

So the comments above on Windows 7 are either about a test release or about vaporware.

I guess the Microsoft marketing engine has already started.

gkdada June 11, 2009 10:56 AM

About the Vista and Win7 debate:

Vista was universally thrashed when it came out (I was the first one to pronounce Vista a failure based on collapsing memory prices), but I was ok with it. Never ran into any problems or slowdowns using it on my home AND office machines since beta days. My daughter’s machine with P4 2.4, and (pre-cambrian) RS350 chipset with integrated graphics ran Vista without a hitch.

Win7 is almost universally praised, but I fail to see much improvement (other than some nice UI upgrade). Probably that goes for almost everybody who has ACTUALLY USED Vista, as opposed to just standing in line to bash it (and boy was it a huge line! I read comments like ‘I would never use Vista. I would accept it only if Bill Gates gave me $10,000,000 with it and even then he shouldn’t insist that I actually install it’. Well if you never tried it out, how did you figure out it is crap?)

Sam June 11, 2009 1:25 PM

@Fred P – “vaporware”? Are you seriously unaware of Microsoft’s massive test release program for new OS releases? The “release candidate” is basically finished, and its been out for a month now. And I’ve been running the beta before that even. It is wayy better than vista (which yes, isn’t saying much), but is faster for me on some tasks than XP even.

And, relevant to the topic of this blog, 7 includes the vista-era security improvements – ASRL, Protected IE, user-mode driver framework, actually usable UAC, bitlocker, etc…

hlm June 11, 2009 8:25 PM

While pretty minor, it just bugged me that you wasted my time trying to sell your computer. It’s your blog, but my time. I’ve stopped subscribing.

Anonymous June 11, 2009 10:20 PM

Sure seems easy to skip an article by its title.

Amazing how PETTY people can be.

Jigar Shah June 12, 2009 5:55 AM

@gkdada Exception, I have dulaboot with Fedora and Vista. Whenn i start vista, I go for a nap. I don’t have problem with it as Vista was paid by company..:)

Pedro Quaresma June 12, 2009 9:13 AM

“vista-era security improvements” this alone was enough to make me LOL.

I think most people have been too used to Windows’s lower standards.

Fred P June 12, 2009 3:27 PM


I still remember the pre-release marketing from Windows 2000; largely because my corporation was burned by their choosing not to release the version we had interest in.

In any case, until it’s formally released, I’m happy to state that Microsoft’s software (or indeed that of any software publisher, including the one I work for) is either “a test release or vaporware”.

A “release candidate” would certainty qualify as a test release.

In any case, I don’t think Microsoft’s release (or lack thereof) will have any immediate impact on my home or work OSes. The hardware requirements are far too high, and I’ve yet to hear a feature that I’m interested in, either personally or professionally. And yes, that’s after perusing Microsoft’s Windows 7 site.

Now, to answer your question, yes. I was unaware. I had no reason to think that Windows 7 would be of any interest to me, so I paid no attention whatsoever to it until I read one of the responses above.

In any case, I’m glad that you like your “release candidate”; I hope that the release is of similar or better for the purposes you plan to use it for.

Anton June 13, 2009 2:36 AM

As long as MS thinks storing your favourite URLs as files and emails in a .pst file is good design, I will not buy that stuff again.

Piskvor June 14, 2009 10:26 AM

Yeah, vaporware. After Windows Vista, I’m pretty sure this is an intentional marketing cycle: stop seling mature OS, start selling alpha version of new OS (pretending it’s the final version), start selling new OS under new name. (without the middle step, your old OS is cannibalizing your new OS).

Although Windows 7 Sucks Less (TM), it’s basically the first release version of Vista. I see no compelling argument for the end user to upgrade from XP to 7.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.