[techtalk] laptop on linux
LynetteQ at primapub.com
Wed Oct 18 09:26:13 EST 2000
I work for Prima Publishing. This year I produced a book entitled "Linux for
Your Laptop." ISBN 0-7615-2816-4. The author is Bill Ball who also wrote Red
Hat Unleashed among other books. I'm not trying to push books, just trying
to be helpful.
From: Telsa Gwynne [mailto:hobbit at aloss.ukuu.org.uk]
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 5:23 AM
Subject: Re: [techtalk] laptop on linux
On Tue, Oct 17, 2000 at 10:44:38AM -0700 or thereabouts, Anmol Khirbat
> I'm thinking about buying a laptop for running linux. I've been surfing
> the net and researching for three days now but I am as confused as ever.
I assume you have already found the Linux on Laptops page at
http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/kharker/linux-laptop/ . It is excellent.
> I would appreciate it very much if you could share your linux+laptop
> experinces with me.
Try as many out in advance as possible :) Laptops are expensive.
You don't want to fall in love with something because it's purple
(Vaios, yay!) and discover you can't type on it. Borrow friends'
and try to edit a couple of files on them. See whether your hand
keeps brushing the touchpad for the mouse or you keep knocking the
little mouse nipple thing. Etc.
Find out about the manufacturer in advance. I have a (purple, yay :))
Vaio from Sony and it's only after getting it I found how irritating
Sony are about docs, specs, and assistance (No, no and no). I wish
I hadn't contributed to their coffers now, even if the purple is
cute. I will say now that they suck about this, and there are other
and better vendors around.
I have a Sony PCG-SR1K (which in the US is a "5K", not a "1K") which
came with a CD drive. I gather if you buy the CD drive separately,
it is like the USB floppy drive you can get: expensive. Single PCMICA
slot which takes either the CD or an ethernet card: but those cards
you can get to connect your digital cameras up via that slot do -not
all fit- and I had a nightmare experience when one of them stuck and
attempts to release it released instead the keyboard. You can
imagine my reaction. Lovely.
It has the RH 7.0 beta on it (must upgrade :)) and it works fine.
Neomagic video (you want "NM2200" in the XF86Config) which is happy
with XFree86: having that rather than proprietary X was important to
me. 1024x768 resolution: very clear and sharp.
Touchpad with two 'buttons' for the mouse: tapping the touchpad is
assumed to be button 1 (so when you remap for left-handers instead
of a "left-button" you get a "right button" (button 3) which is not
generally what you want. Grr!). I wanted the third button for X so I
got a trackball and plugged it into the slot just besides the one for
the "memory stick" (which latter reports itself as "mass storage" and
that's as far as you get cos Sony won't say anything useful, thank
you Sony). Works fine.
Sound: either it doesn't work out of the box, or I screwed up. I'm
not sure because I don't really care about sound. There may be non-free
drivers for it. I am not sure. My husband is constantly stealing the
thing to try stuff out on it so it may yet work.
Some people have problems with the combination of Vaios, something
(USB support?) and suspend breaking. I've had a couple of crashes
when attempting to resume but that may well have been the kernels
my dearly-beloved was putting on it at the time. Hasn't happened
for ages now.
Issues installing: I found everything had been met and solved by
people who'd written their adventures up already for the Laptops
page. Things like booting with "linux ide1=0x180,0x360" mean the
Vaio doesn't "lose" the CD half-way through the Linux install
process, which happened when trying to install both Debian and
RH until I knew about this handy line noise to type at the boot prompt.
Things I changed: not a lot. NM2200 in the XF86Config. Framebuffer
support: very useful when you do a lot of editing and want to see
more than 25 lines at one time at the console. I think I shall put
that on all my machines. I like it: it means I don't need to start
X just to get really large numbers of lines visible on the screen
I have had a lot of people tell me useful things: generally, there
is a perception that Vaios are not remotely robust. I can believe
that after the keyboard popped out and the camera doodah remained
stuck. Several people specifically cautioned me about their being
flimsy with tales of their own experience. I've not had the battery
run out after only an hour, but I typically use it for reading and
editing stuff and for jade, so I don't need X for all of that and
I run it in console mode and it's fine that way. I have heard the
batteries lose their charge over time, and almost all the Vaio
owners I know have bought extra batteries: generally the great big
"four times the charge!" sort.
As well as the memory stick thing, here's also a "JogDial", which Andrew
Tridgell is taking an interest in because his Vaio has one. In
Windows, this navigates a little popup menu. In Linux, it does...
well. Nothing. Yet.
Not sure how much that helps, but I hope it does!
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