[kwlug-disc] Laptops.

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Thu Jun 4 14:57:08 EDT 2009


I am someone who have been using laptops almost exclusively for around 13
years now.

We have two laptops at home, both run Linux (Kubuntu 8.04), and the way I go
about
buying them is as follows:

1. Don't worry too much about the keyboard. They will never feel like a
proper desktop keyboard, but you get used to it. The two laptops I home,
both Toshiba purchased
within a year of each other, have different layouts and a different feel
too. You get used
to what you are using day to day, and switching to a regular desktop
keyboard is not
an issue (e.g. at your day job).

2. Check the flyers from BestBuy, Staples, a $1000 buys you a lot of laptop
these days.
Unless you want a netbook, stay away from the underpowered ones (e.g.
Sempron, and
go for a dual core). If you want to run virtualization, better to go with a
CPU that has
that too (e.g. VMX on Intel).

3. Focus on something you like (for me it is dual core, 2-3 GB minimum), and
then go
to the shop with the Linux distro you will be using and boot from it.
Ubuntu/Kubuntu
as well as Knoppix allow booting from the install disk without installing to
the hard
disk. Check dmesg, lspci, wireless and sound.

4. Make sure you have their 14 day return no question asked in case you
could not
get something to work. I did this twice, once because of sound, the other
because
of wifi. One time they balked when it came back with Kubuntu, and I had to
restore
it from the DVDs supplied back to Windows. Some laptops do not provide a DVD
with it, but give you the option to create rescue DVDs, then do so before
you nuke
the Windows partition, or repartition.

So far the ones I kept work fine with Linux. One has everything working
(down to
the SD card reader!). The other has everything working except that when a
headphone
is plugged in, the sound comes from both the headphone and the main speakers
in the
laptop. This causes feed back and ALSA adjusts the microphone volume down.
Annoying, but not major.

The one I use on a day to day basis is starting to develop some "issues".
One is that
the screen changes colors (loose ribbon cable?) occasionally, until I
readjust the angle.
The other is one key not working intermittently. Although I have warranty on
it, I can't
afford to part with its company for 3-4 days. So will probably wait till it
really needs
to be fixed, buy a new one using the process above (accelerated in one
day!), and pass
it on to my daughter when it comes back as new.

Hope that helps.
-- 
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
http://2bits.com
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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