[Techtalk] Laptop recommendations? (was: Random: MS problem, Linux solution...)

Terri Oda terri at zone12.com
Thu Jan 24 22:49:04 EST 2002

At 12:18 PM 23/01/02 -0500, you wrote:
>Quoth James (Tue, Jan 22, 2002 at 09:15:47PM -0500):
> > 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 hate those too, for the exact same reason.  And it's getting
>harder and harder to find laptops without them.  I greatly prefer a
>trackball, but those are almost impossible to find nowadays.  Even the
>little button-mice in the middle of the keyboard are better.

I have really small hands, so I love having the reduced keyboard and rarely 
hit my touchpad.  Most of my friends can't use my computer comfortably, 
though, because they're not used to it.  (It's now over 2 years old, so I'm 
quite adapted to it.)

I just did a Debian base install after finally deciding that it was time to 
switch to Debian on my own machine.  I used it all summer at work and it 
was great, but my RH install was working reasonably well for assignments in 
the fall, so I didn't want to switch 'till I was done with that course.

So far, I'm less than impressed.  The Debian install made me feel like I'd 
gone back in time to when I was 16 or so and decided to move away from 
slackware to this exciting new RedHat that everyone was suggesting.  Debian 
is now *definitely* off my list of recommended distributions for 
newbies.  I don't mind losing the pretty X interface of redhat's installer 
that much (although I'd gotten used to being able to display that much more 
information about packages and stuff on the screen), but my last few redhat 
installs have autodetected most if not all of my hardware (and those were 
fresh installs, not upgrades, because I've had some hard drive 
troubles).  It's gotten to the point where the RH installs are much nicer 
than the windows installs.  For Debian, I had to rack my brain to remember 
what all the components in my machine are.  (Thank goodness for being able 
to boot into windows and make it output a list -- see, windows is good for 

The other incomprehensible thing is that the base install doesn't appear to 
have man.  The man pages are there, but if I didn't know how to read them 
manually (if you'll pardon the pun) they'd be useless.  I guess you're not 
really supposed to use the base install, but really...

These didn't daunt me too much, since I know I'm quite fond of Debian 
otherwise, but I wouldn't wish that pain on someone who was just 
starting.  They might think that linux was as hard to use as the install 
procedures!  :P

What does disturb me somewhat is that my sound card, which has been 
supported in the kernel for quite some time now thanks to some kind soul 
down at redhat, decided to make a horrible blaring noise when I let Debian 
put the module in.  I don't know what's up with that, since it didn't 
happen a second time after I rebooted in disgust because I couldn't take 
the horrible noise and couldn't use my volume keys 'cause they hadn't been 
mapped to anything yet.  :P  I think compiling myself a new kernel is way 
up there on my list of things to do once I get the appropriate packages.

As for recommending ... my laptop's been a gem when it comes to linux, 
although I've had more bad luck with hard drives.  I know most laptops 
probably don't get as much use and abuse as mine (I carry it around the 
university all day), then tote it around with me on the weekend to play 
games with friends, and I use it heavily at home for assignments and other 
stuff.  The last one I got replaced one that I'd gotten less than two days 
before!  (The nice tech replaced the bracket along with the drive in hopes 
that that would fix the problem and it did.)    I've had to replace other 
components too, but it has been my only computer, primary way of writing 
school notes, and constant companion for 2.5 years, so I guess it's only to 
be expected. :)

The saving grace in this is that the company headquarters is nearby and 
their techs will fix things usually the day of me bringing it in.  They 
weren't even phased with my dual boot system  ("Oh, you've installed 
linux?  How's it working out?"), and they actually now sell the machines 
with linux pre-installed if you want. :)  However, they have touchpads and 
probably don't have a servicing depot in your area, so I don't know that 
it'll do you much good, but the company is Eurocom (http://www.eurocom.ca/).

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