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New laptop

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February 1, 2009 6:11:41 AM

So I just picked up a new laptop for the start of school, and I am pretty excited about it because it has decent hardware, and I got it for about the same price as a netbook! (I got a Compaq Presario CQ60-206us in case anyone is curious). My only real requirements were that it has just enough hardware to play HD video w/o dying, that it had a wireless card so that I could ssh back to my tower at home, and that it could run linux (and be cheap as I am a starving student), and on all those points it certainly meets expectations!

The only hitch seems to be a few Linux issues that I've had along the way... At first, I couldn't get the 64bit version of ubuntu 8.10 installed. Booting the liveCD would cause the entire system to freeze during the boot process. It turns out that this was caused by a problem with the wireless drivers that are on the installation disks for Ubuntu. So, the fix was to use the alternate install disks and at the end of the installation, instead of rebooting immediately, I switched to a different virtual console and edited my /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist and blacklisted all the atheros drivers. I could then boot the system properly. To fix the fact that I couldn't use my wireless card, I downloaded and installed ndiswrapper and the windows driver. This seems to work ok for the most part, but sometimes it is flaky, so I hope they come out with a better native driver soon. The weird part about this driver problem though was that I was able to install the 64bit version of ubuntu 8.10 on my dad's laptop without this problem and we have the exact same wireless adapter (AR5007).

The next little bit of weirdness becomes manifest when I try to use compiz. The best way for me to describe what happens is that the display doesn't seem to update correctly. For example, whenever I try clicking around in nautilus, nothing seems to happen for some odd reason, although firefox and a couple other programs seem to work ok. Also, if I am using vim and I move the cursor down or up the page, instead of the proper behavior, the line the cursor is on suddenly changes to look like the line above or below where the cursor is. This doesn't happen when I use metacity, however, so I am thankful for that. I think it is a compiz problem, but I won't discount the possibility that it could be an nvidia driver problem.


In spite of these little setbacks, I still like this machine as it has hardware enough to do what I want (hardware good enough even to run vista without choking!), and it was SO CHEAP. Unfortunately, for the forseeable future, this machine will have to remain a windows/Linux dual boot machine as I don't know when I will need windows for school, but I think when I graduate I will wipe windows and either give its partition to Linux or maybe I will try out FreeBSD. Also, I'd eventually like to move this machine to Gentoo as well, but I haven't had time to do that as I literally picked up this machine before class on my first day of this semester and I needed a working Linux environment ASAP.

I hope I didn't bore anyone, I just figured I'd share the excitement :D 

-Zorak

More about : laptop

February 1, 2009 11:03:49 PM

Cool :) 

The wireless not so cool :( 
February 5, 2009 3:04:59 AM

How is the lappy going?
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February 6, 2009 11:25:15 PM

So far, so good, with the caveats of the wireless driver and the compiz problem.

I have been using that machine to do programming for my classes, and it has a screen that makes it just big enough to be useful, and yet small enough to be portable. So, it is a relatively good tradeoff. Overall, I'd say it is a pretty darn good little machine, and I am really enjoying the fact that I got this much value so cheaply.

I have also used it to watch some HD videos on the bus home, and it has performed well without so much as a stutter. The only place where it will start stuttering a bit is whenever I try to watch an HD youtube video, and it stutters much less noticeably under windows than linux, so I will chalk that up to an evil version of flash for linux (which may be remedied in the future w/ the 64bit version they are rolling out for linux in the near future). Hopefully adobe could find some way to make flash a little less CPU bound and accelerate it w/ hardware graphics, but this is something that is entirely out of my hands and even getting off on a tangent...

So, to recap, great value, and great price! Glad I finally have a sleek looking Linux machine to cancel out some of the bad karma brought on by the plethora of mactards on campus ;) 

--Zorak
February 7, 2009 1:11:20 AM

I don't get how Apple got its reputation!
February 7, 2009 2:46:17 PM

I think it goes something like this...

February 8, 2009 1:00:17 AM

^^Priceless.

Crap, I think that's my first post in this section, and it's worthless :lol: 
February 8, 2009 1:53:22 AM

Thanks for stopping by randomizer :) 

Have you tried Linux and BSD yet? :D 
February 8, 2009 1:59:35 AM

I have a Wubi install of Ubuntu 8.10 on my rarely used in 7 partition :na:  I first tried running Wubi off a logical partition which didn't work out so well with GRUB :kaola: 

I haven't done much with it, I just installed it to see if this is the first version with which I could get NVIDIA drivers loaded without half-installed packages bricking the package manager. 8.04 didn't show up any available restricted drivers for my 9600GT earlier last year. 8.10 took a few attempts at "activating" the driver before it actually worked.

I now have 3 Windows OSs and one Linux OSs all on the one HDD, as well as logical partitions for the page file and games. Partitioning nightmare!
February 8, 2009 2:09:56 AM

You should try LVM :) 

It makes partitioning a lot simpler.

I've had pretty good luck with the official driver from nvidia since Fedora 4, Ubuntu should work too :) 
February 8, 2009 2:12:42 AM

I just used the partitioner in Windows Vista as that is my main OS, with Win XP for Fallout 3 (didn't start in Vista) and Win 7 for... taking up space? I ran out of primary partitions for Ubuntu :lol: 
February 8, 2009 2:26:33 AM

The next time you install look into LVM, it kicks #&& :) 

You can make 1 PHY Partition and put a number of LVs on it for several Linux versions, swap, home, etc.

Windows supposedly has LVM support too but I've never used it on windows.

:) 
February 8, 2009 2:59:22 AM

Which distribution did you try? What kind of issues did you run into?

Yum and apt usually behave pretty well :) 

EDIT: this reply was intended for a post which was deleted.
February 8, 2009 3:12:10 AM

linux_0 said:
EDIT: this reply was intended for a post which was deleted.

Haha, I guess the person was a bit afraid to post.

I think I should play around with Ubuntu a bit more. I know almost nothing about Linux because I just haven't used it. I've really only ever used Windows OSs, such that I find them easier to use than OSX even though people say OSX is for dumbies :sol:  Really it comes down to not finding a use for it because Windows does everything (which is why it's such a huge OS).
February 8, 2009 3:41:48 AM

Linux is a heck of a good server OS :)  It doesn't do too bad in the workstation segment either.

All kinds of devices run Linux including HTPCs, DVRs, mobile phones and various gadgets and appliances and the list is growing rapidly as more people become aware of the advantages :) 

The game industry is dragging their feet because they think they make more money by sticking with micro######.
February 8, 2009 3:50:22 AM

My real problem is the learning curve, as well as the still-mediocre wireless support. Ubuntu was reporting a 15% connection strength with at least one dropout while I was using it. I rarely drop-out on Windows and I get a much better signal than that (provided both report strength with some accuracy).

The gaming industry drags their feet with everything, including multi-core support. It's only now starting to take off, and people can run 8 threads already with a single-CPU system, soon to be more than that. If they worked on Linux games more then graphics card manufacturers would give Linux driver support a higher priority too. But without faster driver support as cards get released, gaming is not much of an option for people who buy cards at launch. So it's a Catch-22, and either the game devs or driver devs need to make the first step into breaking that cycle.
February 8, 2009 4:10:03 AM

Wireless is problem on most operating systems, even on windows ( perhaps less so ). There are a lot of wireless chipsets that are complete junk.

Besides the poor quality of the equipment, many manufacturers refuse to release specs so that the developers can write good drivers. You can expect issues with hardware that had to be entirely reverse-engineered.

You can avoid a lot of problems if you shop around for hardware that has good Linux support.

Linux isn't perfect, but it definitely has some key advantages, there is no activation, no nag screens, no DRM, it's fast, very stable, relatively very secure, free -- legally ( $0 ) and open source.

So there's a lot to like :) 

With the accelerated drivers and compiz it can also have fast, high quality 3D with a lot of eye candy too :) 

Recently Ubuntu was benchmarked again windows 7 and I believe it beat it in most benchmarks :) 

You can also rest assured that if something isn't working right now, someone is probably working on it.

WINE is also improving rapidly and supports many popular games and apps and in some cases the programs run better on WINE than they do on certain versions of windows.

http://appdb.winehq.org/

http://www.cedega.com/gamesdb/

Good stuff :) 
February 8, 2009 4:51:04 AM

Almost anyone from a 5 year old to an 85 year old grandmother can use Linux for basic tasks without much trouble. It is not necessary to know all the OS internals to use it :) 

Windows usually prevents you from using your computer and your hardware and software, Linux enables you to do things :) 

If there's something you don't like you can change it yourself if you have the skills, if you don't, you can hire someone to do it for you or start your own open source project to make the changes.
February 8, 2009 5:00:22 AM

I think my adapter uses the Realtek 8187b chipset. It's one of the 8187 family anyway. I shall have to give Wine and Cedega a run. :) 
February 8, 2009 5:13:12 AM

Unfortunately, your mileage will vary with WINE ( free -- $0 ) and Cedega ( $5 / mo or $35 / year ).

Fortunately support is available both free and non-free.

Games that have native Linux versions will essentially always run better than those running under WINE or Cedega.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open_source_games

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_games

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_games#Commercial_gam...

Basic tasks such as web browsing, email, office apps, graphics, im, and the like usually run nearly flawlessly using Firefox, Thunderbird, openoffice.org / koffice / abiword, GIMP, pidgin, etc. respectively.

:) 
February 8, 2009 5:35:38 AM

Thanks for the links :)  Hmm... perhaps I should stop hijacking this guy's thread :D 
February 8, 2009 5:38:19 AM

I'm sure Zorak won't mind :) 

I think that we should probably put some of this info on a thread and sticky it.

:) 
February 8, 2009 5:41:44 AM

Good idea. Actually, I'm surprised there isn't this kind of info in a sticky already. It would save you retyping it.
February 8, 2009 5:50:17 AM

Definitely :) 

tux games http://www.tuxgames.com/ has some commercial Linux games. Some are oldies but goodies :) 

Some of these games have free demos you can download.

http://www.linuxgames.com/

Naturally Linux has dozens of games you can get absolutely free, but they are usually not as flashy as commercial games :) 
February 8, 2009 6:02:48 AM

No sweat :) 

If you need any help or have any other questions, PM me :) 
February 8, 2009 6:04:33 AM

Will do :) 
February 8, 2009 10:09:45 AM

See randomizer I told you he was good.
February 8, 2009 3:48:59 PM

Wow, its an explosion of posts! I don't mind sharing the thread, but I am glad that randomizer realized he did kinda hijack it.

In any case, the current wireless driver that I have through ndiswrapper is a bit odd. It will sometimes refuse to connect to networks that i KNOW are there and it seems to register low signal strength on the UT public wireless network, which is a pain because then it won't connect. Sometimes if I rmmod/modprobe ndiswrapper, the problem goes away and I get a connection, other times I am not so lucky.

By the way, thank you to audiovoodoo for explaining the cult of apple :) 

-Zorak
February 12, 2009 7:43:50 PM

Yeah, I am sure that if I were to give it a real shot, I could get the CodeWarrior compiler we have to use for my embedded systems class installed and working under linux. I'd also need a terminal capable of communicating via RS232 (or SCI as Freescale calls it) to talk to my microcontroller. The thing is, I literally picked up this computer before going to class on my first day of school, and since that point I have been drowning in work, so I haven't had much time to figure how to make the tool set I need work under Linux. I'd be all for doing it, but I just don't have the time :( 

Also, in the time that I have had to use Vista on this laptop, it hasn't been terrible, but there have been a few annoyances, such as the change of UI and changing where things are stored. All in all, I wouldn't say I like it, but I don't _hate_ it either. It is no better than using XP, and I don't care enough about it to buy another copy of XP to install on this machine. Also, since I spend most of the time booted into Linux (which I prefer), I don't notice as much. I do wish I had enough time to figure out why I am having these wireless/graphics problems though :( 

-Zorak

p.s. I probably shouldn't have made this long-winded post, but I wanted to take a break from what is otherwise a really nasty schedule ATM.
February 13, 2009 2:27:36 AM

Quote:
I am keeping crappy Vista (the bloody thing wasting 50Gigs of my HDD) only to be able to run Adobe CS4 Suite which I use often....
DAMMIT!

50GB? I'm pretty sure you have much more than Vista installed. Vista uses about 15GB without having components stripped out with vLite. If it used 50GB, I wouldn't be able to fit it plus downloads on a 40GB partition ;) 
February 13, 2009 2:59:14 AM

Yeah, actually my vista chews up 50GB of my HD even though it is not all in use. The reason being that there are some files that it stuck towards the middle of the disk space and the repartitioning tool refused to move those files and make the partition smaller. I didn't feel like taking chances w/ gparted since I needed a system up and running ASAP, but that may be an option for me in the future.

-Zorak
February 13, 2009 9:53:48 PM

I know... what do they put in that Vista? A program to turn your computers into killer robots with killer aim?
February 15, 2009 7:17:46 AM

It's just Microsoft's way of supporting the hardware industry, without Vista 1TB hard drives (and quad-core CPU's) would have a very small market.
February 16, 2009 2:46:09 AM

haha, we'd all be running 1MB OSes ;) 
February 17, 2009 9:28:14 PM

Very true, it is entirely possible to fit many distros on a single CD still, although nothing much besides the distro. Once I find a distro I like I'll probably get the DVD to save on bandwidth each time I reformat and have to restore everything.
February 18, 2009 5:09:37 PM

Quote:
We should note that the 4.7 Linux DVD includes OpenOffice, drivers, and many goodies (apps, desktops, eyecandies ...)
While Vista DVD has ... well ... vista!


Hmmm.. and there was I thinking I also got a media player, web server, firewall, and a fancy web browser [/Anti Trust] ;-)
February 19, 2009 3:45:52 AM

Pathetic, a real media player, browser and webserver are vlc, Firefox and Apache.
February 19, 2009 3:49:57 AM

Apache can't run an ASP.NET website easily. They were going to add support then dumped the idea after a while but there's some people working on it still.
February 19, 2009 6:09:33 AM

MS certificates are probably recognised more by the industry (for some reason). If a software giant thinks you've "got what it takes", you must be good :sarcastic: 
February 19, 2009 6:56:18 AM

Yes, just like .docx word documents
February 19, 2009 8:00:15 AM

x-documents rock! :lol: 
February 19, 2009 9:36:05 AM

roar! against M$ we go!
February 21, 2009 5:51:55 PM

Quote:
Common!!
Did you actually try running anything on what MS claims to be a "Media Player;" I will not even pretend that you actually brought up the words "web browser" and "web server" in the same sentence you referred to vista!


[Devils Advocate]
Well it plays MP3's out of the box! The web browser works with my bank whilst that commie FireFox thing does not. I was able to get my 'ChiTech' home automation web control system working with just 4 mouse clicks using the power of IIS...
[/Devils Advocate]

You know this is what you are up against, and in cases with some justification.
February 21, 2009 7:13:44 PM

Ever heard of Ogg Vorbis or ACC itunes? Rather trade off bank convince with IE tab and Adblock Plus? (Has no idea what the last message was)
February 22, 2009 4:20:15 AM

Yeah, i don't think i would bank at a place that insists on using IE. That is just begging for something to go wrong. Also, audacious media player plays mp3s, wmas, ogg, mp4/aac?, and all sorts of other audio formats out of the box and is quick to install. Besides, who uses WMP anyways? Anyone using windows knows to install winamp for music and the CCCP/Media Player Classic or VLC for videos.

AMDFangirl, IIS is the MS web server. It is like Apache, and it comes free with winXP pro. If I recall correctly, I believe I read somewhere that despite its smaller installation base, it is still compromised more of the time than the open source Apache webserver. Funny how that works out, yes? ;) 

-Zorak
February 22, 2009 8:39:07 AM

Zorak said:
Anyone using windows knows to install winamp for music and the CCCP/Media Player Classic or VLC for videos.




Just think about what you wrote there for a second, just pause for a moment and mentally walk yourself through the home of your non tech savvy friend who just purchased a new laptop. Do you maybe want to retract that statement now as you see the mental picture of them struggling to understand how to change their desktop background to that picture of their dog?

You talk about choice to not bank with somebody, good luck finding a truly OS friendly bank here in the UK. There are a couple but the majority are IE specific sites, same with our tax office for a while. I'm not saying it's a good thing, just that it's the way it is and that's what people have to deal with.


Zorak said:
AMDFangirl, IIS is the MS web server. It is like Apache, and it comes free with winXP pro. If I recall correctly, I believe I read somewhere that despite its smaller installation base, it is still compromised more of the time than the open source Apache webserver. Funny how that works out, yes? ;) 


For older versions that might have been true but for IIS7 which is free with Business Vista or the server products then not from what I read. The biggest issue IIS faces is the skill level of the folks installing it. Compared to Apache it's a sinch to get working and serving pages, to lock down properly requires as much skill as an Apache install. Again I'm not saying it's THE SOLUTION just that it does work for a lot of people, hell even I can get IIS serving ASP.NET pages hooking into remote SQL Server back ends in under an hour!


February 22, 2009 9:01:45 AM

It's the same with everything. You can't expect a bullet-proof OS if it isn't properly configured, yet as long as you know how to lock it down you're fine. Given that some military systems run Windows XP means it can't be that insecure if you know how to lock it down. The same thing goes for web servers. I can set up an Apache server and let it run on my home PC. I don't think it would take too long before someone broke into it though, because I don't know how to configure it properly (and haven't tried to learn, because I don't intend to run websites with 40% uptime).
February 22, 2009 5:01:03 PM

Heh. I see I may have hit a nerve. I admit I wasn't thinking about what my non-tech savvy friends do on their own, since after I set things up for them the first time, they have usually continued to use the same programs i've shown them (whether out of laziness/familiarity or out of genuine like for the programs, I don't know). Also, this may just be me, but even though I know a lot of non-tech savvy people, I only really know one hopeless case like you describe. Most people are willing to learn just a little bit if they think it will benefit them.

Also, I apologize for forgetting that you are not in the USA. But I will NOT retract my statement about choosing another bank. That is a valid solution if it is available to you like it is for me in the US. Before I opened my account at our local bank I made sure that I would be able to do my online banking in Firefox/Linux and they assured me their site would work (which it does). So again I apologize for the US-centricity of my proposed solution, but that doesn't make it any less valid. Here's hoping that your banker's IT department gets their act together!

-Zorak
!