[Techtalk] Random: MS problem, Linux solution and an experiment

Akkana akkana at shallowsky.com
Wed Jan 23 12:44:18 EST 2002

James writes:
> I have a ghetto Compaq laptop.  It has one of those ridiculous touchpads
> (I use a USB mouse), which I hate, as my hands always accidentally touch
> it while typing and I delete half a page of work.  I tried disabling it
> in XP and it refused to disable.  There was also no way to disable it
> through BIOS.

Your "cat" solution is ingenious and cool, and may be all you need.
I'll definitely save it for future reference.
But in case you're looking for more, you might be itnerested in the
linux touchpad configurator: http://www.compass.com/synaptics/

It does a lot of configuration on Synaptics touchpads, a lot less on
Alps.  Mine is an Alps, so I didn't find it that useful; I'm not sure
which one Compaq uses.  But for some reason, on this laptop, I never
hit the touchpad accidentally (not sure why -- I had a major problem
with it on my previous laptop).

> A lot of people use my laptop to type papers, do work, etc.  Last
> semester it had WinXP on it.  This semester I installed Mandrake 8.1 w/
> KDE2.2.2 and w/StarOffice 6 Beta.  I want to see how many people don't
> even notice the difference beyond mentioning that the interface is

Please let us know the results!

I suspect that people who are heavy MS Word users will notice the
difference (but it may depend on what fonts you have installed).
But light users might not even notice, and if that turns out to
be the case, it would be a great thing to know!

Raven, corporate courtesan writes:
> 	In other news -- I will be getting a new laptop with my tax
> return this year, and putting Debian on it.  Does anyone have
> recommendations for laptops that they particularly like, or have worked
> particularly well with Linux?  I'm trying to do some research in

I have a Sony Vaio SR17k.  Sony-the-company isn't terribly Linux
friendly, and I'd rather buy from IBM; but I'm a miniaturization freak
and I really wanted a super small, light laptop, and I knew that even
though Sony doesn't offer much direct support, Vaios are popular with
Linux people (Linus has a Picturebook and likes Sony) and so they tend
to run Linux very well.  I also really like Sony's "jog dial" -- there's
a linux driver for it, then you can configure its behavior with a
user-mode program (I programmed mine to scroll, middle-click, and
adjust screen brightness).  It has a built-in modem but there's a
driver for it.  More info at http://shallowsky.com/vaiolinux.html

Oh, yes: USB mice work just fine, so I only need to use the touchpad
if I'm travelling and didn't bring a mouse along.

> 	A good network card is the most essential thing.  (90% of what

Oh, that lets out the SR17 (no built-in networking; I use a PCMCIA
Xircom).  But I think the Vaio 505 series has networking.

> 	Any recommendations, horror stories, things to get, things to
> avoid?

Someone at work has an HP (sorry, don't know what model) that he's had
no end of trouble with.  It does run linux okay, when it's running,
which isn't very often.

James writes:
> Also the NIC/modem combo is a Winmodem.  The company who makes it,
> Conexion (or something), doesn't even support it beyond WinME.  Doesn't

Conexant?  There's a linux driver for them now:
It works with the winmodem in my Vaio.  The only problem is that it
makes its own device (/dev/hsfmodem or something) which wvdialconf
doesn't know about, so if you use wvdial instead of kppp, you have to
do the configuration by hand (I copied a configuration from someone
else's machine).

Michael Carson writes:
>    Oh, laptops - one of my favorite things.  I've been a ThinkPad fan 
> for as long as I've had a portable.  They're well designed, meaning they 
> often perform better than their specs would indicate, durable and tend 
> to support Linux well.  In fact, I think IBM may well install RH on at 
> least one TP model currently.
>    That said, I've developed a real aversion to heavy machines lately, 

They used to sell a Linux laptop, but it was a huge model, not anything
lightweight.  At LinuxWorld they had lots of the little lightweight ones
-- all running Windows!

> machine.  Yeah, suspend/resume works, but I couldn't get hibernate to 

On the Sony, I can suspend with the power key and everything works.
I can't suspend with apm -s or -S, though, at least not if I'm running X;
the machine locks up on resume.  That seems to be a common problem
(I think it's a bug in APM, not a problem with specific machines,
and ACPI suspend apparently has the same problem even on machines
where linux ACPI works).  Haven't tried hibernate.

> work.  The machine can warm swap batteries, but the individual battery 
> life is only about two hours, depending on what's going on.  If you want 

Same for the Vaio.  I haven't tried the higher capacity batteries (Sony
batteries cost a fortune and I haven't talked myself into one yet).

> to watch a movie on battery, get a spare, they aren't that expensive 
> (US$130).  The partioning was weird, I had to blow the Windows partition 
> away, along with the "software recovery" partition and reinstall Windows 
> from a Win98 disk I had and the drivers CD Fujitsu sent.  

The Sony comes already partitioned with Windows on the smaller
partition.  The second partition is supposed to be for storing movies,
but it made a dandy Linux partition. :-)

>    The thing about laptops is that they are extremely personal.  The 
> models I've babbled about are ones I like.  I think I've answered your 

Sometimes you see one that you just fall in love with; that's what
happened to me with the little Sony.  The Fujitsus weren't available
when I was shopping, but I think I'm in lust looking at the url you
sent. :-)


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