Driving to Laptopia

The first part of Doc's adventures with a new ThinkPad: what needs to be addressed before Linux laptops can make it in the real user world.
______________________

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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A couple of "recommendations to OEM's" already work...

Craig "Fuzzy" Conner's picture

I'm running Mandrake 10.1 Official on a Toshiba Satellite A45-S121. (All of the hardware is made by Toshiba and Intel, and everything works except the 56k modem.) A couple of items on the hit-list are not problems for my arrangement:

>> 4) Package management...

Mandrake's urpmi and the GUI that goes with it (/usr/bin/MandrakeUpdate) make this a non-issue, as other users' comments have alluded to in more detail.

>> 8) Managing multiple screens...

This is one thing Toshiba does well. There's a key combination that cycles the 2 video outputs through all of their possible combinations. I use my laptop with a projector often. I sometimes use it for presentations that last up to 5 hours and I never have problems with this feature.

I have run into odd OOo issues from time to time, but not very often. They're not laptop-specific and not "show stoppers" for me.

2 down... Linux time being faster than real time, we're pretty close to solving these things without needing to tie ourselves to 1 hardware vendor. (If I wanted to do that, I'd go back to running Solaris.)

Linux on Laptop, try Mepis Linux

Brian Chase's picture

After reading the base article, I noticed a significant focus on Powerbook hardware. For those looking to save some money and would like a nice sub $1000 laptop and run Linux, I have witnessed very good experiences with Mepis Linux. Mepis is a Debian based LiveCD distro that can install to hard drive with VERY easy graphical installer, and recognizes many WiFi cards, like athX and wlanX, the former I think being built in Centrino. It uses Debian mirrors and has a huge FOSS availability, and has the stability and ease of use of a modern Debian system.

I'll either be using Debian-based Mepis or Knoppix for any client OS that I deploy in the near future. Redhat's going in a proprietary / commercial direction, so is Suse. In addition, Redhat and Suse are both RPM based and don't have access to the expansive Debian software mirrors that a true Debian based system has.

I still stick with Fedora for servers, mainly due to familiarity, but once I learn to do all that with Debian, I'm switched over for good.

Linux on my laptop

Anonymous's picture

Hello,
I tried to install a downloaded version of RedHat Linux 9.0 on my laptop and was unsuccessful. Can someone tell me why I am not able to install it ?? Please email me at manic001@csusm.edu

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Doc's picture

Dan Gillmor points here in his latest column for the San Jose Mercury News. Some interesting comments are appended there as well.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Mindflayer's picture

I use a Powerbook, and it's a dream. I did install Fedora on an older laptop, and while it works, it's still not there in terms of fit and finish. I do hope Linux continues to grow - it'll push innovation on Apple's side!

Is it easy to configure , stu

Anonymous's picture

Is it easy to configure , sturdy and way reliable?
i do need a very sturdy laptop (i think that a crap which breaks is not a computer).

thanks a lot.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Politics cannot be left out of this discussion. The points made about the inadequacies of Linux regards laptop use are well taken. Linux desktops have problems as well, and have long been stated as the reason why Linux is not yet ready for the general public. But people keep making the switch to Linux anyway, and Linux keeps getting better. For some non-geeks, like myself, the reason we switched to Linux is becaus FREEdom is more important to us than the latest and greatest Microsoft or Mac ability, and because Linux is adequate to do most or all of the computing we wish to accomplish, even if we must beg or hire a Linux wizard on occasion.

Turning to a Powerbook may be a pragmatic necessity for some people, but please lets drop the nonsense of confusing OS-X with Linux. GNU/Linux, and GNU/HURD if it ever gets to a workable stage, actualize FREEdom of use. A Mac Powerbook is the essence of monopoly. Mac has total control of the architecturel, and OS, as well as other software. Mac in Microsoft's position would be even worse than Microsoft.

The power and allure of Linux is telling from the comments to this article. Individuals dumping whatever Linux distros onto whatever laptops are being compared to a large corporation's concerted efforts to integrate their hardware and software design.

Fine, Powerbook has set the standard for Linux to meet and surpass. I hope IBM or other company does it. That will be a Richter scale 8 centered in Redmond, WA.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Doc's picture

Well put. That last line is a pull quote. Thanks.

Wireless Tool for Linux to help Find and Associate to AP's

Anonymous's picture

Have you checked out ApRadar yet?

This might be something that will help finding and associating to various Access Points in Linux.

http://apradar.sourceforge.net/

Re: Wireless Tool for Linux to help Find and Associate to AP's

Anonymous's picture

Fedora FUD. Interesting all the comments which are simultaneously pro-SuSE and anti-Fedora. Take note of the fact that Fedora Core 2 is a beta. The only available comparison between the two distros is Red Hat 9 and SuSE 9.0. Otherwise wait until Fedora Core is actually _released_.

Re: Wireless Tool for Linux to help Find and Associate to AP's

Anonymous's picture

Look at the comments now. There are nearly a dozen comments pushing people to give up on Linux and open-source altogether and just switch to closed-source Mac OS X -- on a site called 'Linux Journal'. You'd think if Mac users were reading Linux journal, it'd be because they LIKE Linux. But their posts read more like sales pitches for OS X and have nothing good to say about Linux at all.

I smell Astroturfing. It's not SuSe you should worry about - I once heard an Apple salesman joking about "cutting off Linux's air supply" (like Microsoft said they did to Netscape), which is the developers. True, Linux isn't as polished as OS X yet. But it will be, unless Apple succeeds in stealing everybody over from Linux to OSX. Every developer who "switches" is one less guy helping to perfect Linux and make a standardized, completely open and free system.

Thank God for IBM, HP and the other companies who are supporting the creation of an even playing field for app-makers with Linux, and the governments who are tired of Microsoft's forced upgrades due to incompatibility and security holes that aren't being fixed in older systems.

Thank God for Linux.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

jan's picture

Good news that you're going to do the SuSE thing, since it's by far a better distro for laptop usage than Fedora. Make no mistake, Fedora does have a place, and now that the community that developed around Fedora has established itself properly, things will only look up for the future.

I'm using a newish HP/Compaq nx7000, P4 M 1.5GHz Centrino with a wonderful wide screen. Granted, some of the ACPI functions are not really well supported, although a kernel patch and upgrade to a 2.6 kernel solved that quite admirably. The on-board Intel 2100 based 802.11b WiFi adapter still doesn't work natively under Linux, although there seems to be some movement on the Intel sites in terms of open source drivers for this chipset. Still no worries, I use a Siemens-Fujitsu ConnectBird USB WiFi adapter that works extremely well under Linux, and is actually superior to the Intel in terms of signal strength handling whilst wardriving et al.

Point taken on the Powerbook issue, although I don't feel the need to change. OK, so PowerPoint is more feature rich than OpenOffice.org's Impress, but since I'm not a public speaker it doesn't really bother me much. I only use Impress when I need to import and look at other people's slideshows, for my own I use a real geek tool called Magicpoint (see http://www.mew.org/mgp/ for this excellent tool). Granted, it's not for everyone, but raw power there is aplenty. It should also work under MacOS X, since it's purely X based.

Until recently I had an old Mac 3400c Powerbook, which was a pretty decent machine at it's time (603e processor clocked at 200MHz and 128Mb RAM). Unfortunately way to long in the tooth for the sexy OS X, so I had to keep to system 8.5 and Linux. Having said that, the little book ran Gentoo Linux with a vengeance, doing duty as a travelling demo server for just about anything under the sun, Postresql, Mysql, PHP demos and CUPS printing, name it it did it. It was no slouch under Linux by any means. Apple hardware is simply put, amaaaazing! However, in my neck of the woods (South Africa), such kit comes at a huge price premium, and after-sales service is so sucky that one could say it doesn't exist. Pity, Steve could have had Africa, instead we have to pay homage (amongst other things) to a guy called William.

Back to LOTL. Huge headway has been made by distros like SuSE with 9.0 (some interesting bits in store for the up and coming 9.1) and Mandrake's version 10. Debian is doing good things from a technical perspective, although that still remains firmly in the realm of the types with long hair and high caffeine counts. Gentoo, my own distro of choice, same as Debian from a tech perspective. However, before I re-installed with Gentoo, I did run Mandrake 10 in order to evaluate it on my nx7000 laptop, and I was frankly speaking gobsmacked. Everything worked (apart from the WiFi and modem) as it should, even suspend/resume, last feature thanks to a 2.6 kernel. The ATI graphics card was identified correctly, and OpenGL was working at tolerable levels (not as good as with ATI's proprietry drivers, though).

So, what is still not there? Actually precious little from a technical perspective. However, from a "user experience" perspective the few technical hurdles left has a huge impact. IMHO the following needs to be looked at, all doable in a relatively short span of time:

1) Proper graphics support, not only for GL applications, but also for chipset feature support like external screens, TV out and so forth.

2) All WiFi cards and software modems should be supported. Here the manufacturers should make a large effort, especially Intel (2100 series) and Broadcom. If only Intel get their act together, all "Centrino" spec machines will work without having to buy third-party driver hacks (sorry, I know excellent work by the dudes who wrote the driver-loader, but it's still a hack).

3) Kernel hackers should think about a way that vendors could plug in their proprietry drivers with ease from a user perspective. This "will taint the kernel" business is all cool and fine from an Open Source advocacy point of view, but it still doesn't help the user. For myself it's easy, twiddle it with insmod or modprobe and away I go, but from a user adoption point of view there is still quite some way to go before Auntie Maude would want to run this wonderful OS (which it is) on her laptop

4) Proper standards for the above should be considered and maybe built into the LSB or similar. This way at least manufacturers and OEMs would have the same level of API stability (or at least a close approximation of it) for writing drivers and tools without having to support the gazillions of distros out there.

For all I know such a specification is already part of LSB, but it must be adopted and adhered to, or the common user out there won't want to join the good cause.

Back to things Maccish, MacOS X is seriously kewl, Apple hardware is wonderful, but it still in terms of sheer bang-for-bucks you're going to have a tough time beating the averages in terms of cheap, good quality PC-based laptop hardware out there. Even with brandnames like Dell, IBM, HP and so forth, you're still going to end up paying significantly less (especially if you buy bulk like some large companies do) for the entire lifetime of a good quality PC laptop. And, if one is sensible and know some geekish types that could help you make a proper decision about distributions of Linux, it's still a viability to run Linux and be totally productive without being a geek yourself.

It's a pity that Doc had such a bad time with that lucious IBM laptop, hope that your techs can help you getting sorted. It's still going to be a bit of a fight, that's the unfortunate truth, however things are looking up a lot if you look back at what happened in the past two years. Go Doc!!! Looking forward to your next article.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Hey!I'm a starter at Linux and I am trying to find a connectbird usb wireless lan driver!Can you help me? My e-mail is a28350@alunos.det.ua.pt ,if you can send it to me..or tell me were can I get it!Tanks man!

Mandrake and Dell

Anonymous's picture

Excellent article - yes, laptops are the beginning of the last great frontier. Think of how far the desktop has come in two years, though. I am writing this on a Dell 5100 running Mandrake 10. Definitely the best distro solution I have found for the laptop. It got my Video card (Radeon 7500) OpenGL set up, did my NIC and almost everything else right. ACPI Sleep and Suspend are still a little ways off in the 2.6 kernel but, I feel, we are getting closer closer closer (I can almost see light at the end of the tunnel). I print over a network using CUPS (easy set up) to a desktop running Mdk9.1 with an Epson C82 - smooth network photo printing - no problems with drivers if you do just a little homework before you buy. We have a canon USB Digital camera that works out of the box better under mandrake than it ever did in 'doze.

On the other hand, I don't have a digital Video camera so I can't comment on firewire capture. I do use an analog capture board in my dekstop that, again, works better under Linux than Windows (Zoran chip). The video editing tools are still on the steep side of the development curve - getting there but not equal with Premiere, etc. yet.

WiFi is cool but I have no need for it. My understanding is, once again, if you choose the right card, it shouldn't be a major problem to set up. I certainly can't comment on the loads that Doc would put it through, though.

I think that Distro is a huge part of the equation. SuSE and Mandrake are much more likely to support this kind of world. Redhat is focused on the server and, despite the community around Fedora, can't keep up to Suse and Mandrake for easy desktop stuff. Remember that Mdk has Urpmi as an alternative to Apt-get. The only weakness is needing to set up the software repositories, something that Deb does automatically. Otherwise, the software is even sorted into subjects headings (if you want).

My 2 bits... :-)
ajc314159

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Just in case you still want to install Linux on a laptop, have a look at TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, PDAs and mobile phones and Linux-on-Laptops. There is also a laptop manufacturer Linux status survey and a list of Linux laptop and PDA resellers and retailers available.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

When I plug an external monitor into the PowerBook, it autodetects it, sets the resolution if necessary and remembers the configuration for next time. Same with projectors. I want the same in a Linux laptop.

Ha! That does not even work reliably on Windows XP. A chance for Linux to leapfrog the competition, really.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Have been driving, am there now.

I received my T30 last week, plopped in my Xandros 2.0 CD, and approx 25 minutes later had a fully functional unit - everything that I use daily was detected (cannot comment on the winmodem as I have cable-internet at home/work NOR the wifi/nic).
There is nothing to add as there was nothing to be done except customize : like colours, theme ....etc. How easy can it get ?

After driving, am now parked in Xandros Lane....

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I've been running gentoo on my T-30 since august 2002, I've been very happy with it in general. The Wifi works FAR better under linux than under WindowsXP. The ACPI, however, is not so great. I've gotten by with APM, but I really really really really really really really really really really really want ACPI to work. Aside from that the only other problem I've had is that the cisco vpn client isn't compatible with the 2.6 kernel.

The T-30's a really solid machine, the only critical flaw it has is it's video chip/memory. The 16MB radeon 7500 is pretty lame. Although on that note, Neverwinter nights runs nicer under linux than under windowsXP on this machine.

AND

I've even got a projector story: I was in a class in october 2002 and the professor was trying to show a website with her laptop through a projector. She was running WinXP and having no luck whatsoever. I offered her my laptop, she plugged it in and pressed the little video switch button and the screen came up on the projector, all before she had even noticed that it wasn't windows. I pointed her to the mozilla icon and the show went on.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Hey, I'm on my third Linux notebook. There have been some limitations, but if you're willing to work with or around them, it's bound to get better. I started with RedHat 5.2 and a Toshiba Tecra 530CDT. I was told it couldn't be done so that was enough motivation for me to do so.

Since then, I've been on a Compaq Armada 7800 with Redhat 7.2, Hitachi VisionBook5000 with Slackware 8 & 9 and currently with a Compaq Evo N1000v with RedHat 9.0. Wireless!

With the exception of the usual hunt for working modem drivers and compatible printers, I've been happy.

RF

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I have some photos for you. They're taken at the GUADEC 3 (2002):
Pic 1
Pic 2
and one from the GIMPcon2003:
Pic 1

It is not just that MacOS would be superior to Linux, it is often that the design and power packed into the powerbook is a killer combination. Often I've found free software hackers to run Linux on their PBs, like I do.

I love the PBs design and it is perfect in every way, but I do not run MacOS X on it. I run Yellow Dog Linux.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I am using fedora on an IBM T41p with the a/b/g card. Everything is working perfectly - although to be 100% honest I have not used the modem - haven't needed to but downloaded and installed the drivers Ok. Now you have to run a tainted kernel which, if you are a purest, might stick in the throat. The driver for the a/b/g card installs under fedora as an rpm and just works. I struggled with the latest cvs copy of madwifi for the built in atheros card, but the rpms did the job, not 100% sure what the issue is. Bluetooth reportedly works, but have not tried it yet under linux. Oddly the latest cvs madwifi driver fixes the LED issue mentioned in the article, but still didn't allow me to connect the wlan, the RPM on the other hand works, but the LED does not!!

Under XP bluetooth crashes the explorer eventually requiring a reboot and works occasionally when it feels like it. XP also insists on re-installing the bluetooth LAN connection on every reboot - so I have like 15 Bluetooth LAN connections which XP helpfully wont let me delete. Wifi under XP mostly works, but it is temperamental - occasionally refusing to connect. The issue as far as I can tell is a fight between the IBM wifi management and the XP wifi management. Under linux I have had no trouble - although I have only connected to one wlan so far.

atheros rpms for t41p: http://dag.wieers.com/packages/kernel-module-madwifi/

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I was a hardcore linux laptop user for several years. In fact, I still have a laptop running debian that I defaulted back to when my iBook wetn belly up and I have to say that most of Doc's comments are extremely justified. I spent more time futzing getting my machines to work (and there were... a Gateway, a Dell, an IBM and finally a Sony VAIO ) than working some weeks. However, once you got them working they were flawless and using OpenOffice worked jsut as well (now even better).
The problem is I think Linux support is actually going backwords. Of all the new machines I have looked at coming out in the last little while, they have actually had Win proprietary systems in them (I tend to concentrate on lighter, smaller laptops). After looking at the field, I have up and went with an iBook.
I must admit, I feel like a bit of a sell-out but I haven't regretted it, and Fink allows me to run all the open source X software I want (even KStars as Doc mentioned - though gnucash is also important). They are great machines and I have to admit while I was originally planning on installing debian on it when I got it, I have been using OSX constantly since converting. No complaints at all though I've been eyeing upgrading to a powerbook.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I couldn't agree more with the article. I run Linux on my desktop but for laptops, the value of the machine is a lot in how hardware and OS are tightly integrated.

The Powerbook G4 I own is exactly that for me. It works flawlessly on all aspects and is a welcoming harbour for open source applications.

It uses the cups server running on my linux box to print on the linux supported HP printer I own and that's just one example.

A lot of the value of linux is relevant to a fixed machine : reliable, resilient, multiuser, able to run simultaneously server and desktop apps thanks to advanced process scheduling, able to take advantage of a wide range of standardised hardware and peripherals, and all that with very scarce support from the computer industry.
It's a lot less true with laptop machines especially when wireless and dialup networking is not forthcoming(what's a laptop without extended connection capabilities?), touchpad advanced functions are not fully supported, suspend on lid close is hit and miss, graphics are hard to configure etc, etc.

It's getting better all the time but until Linux is available pre-installed and preconfigured or that OS less standard based laptops are available, it won't be an obvious choice.

I think Lindows is right on when they bet on the preinstalled market rather than on the "conversion" market. It's much bigger market, where it's easier to back your support claims since you can thoroughly test the hardware and most people won't change the OS of any computer.

It will soon be in Dell's and other hardware vendors' interest to open various OS aisle on their ecommerce sites where Lindows and others will be able to offer their OSes preinstalled on current hardware, alongside all the supported upgrades and peripherals.

Hardware manufacturers would be able to unload support to the OS vendors (impossible with MS) and allow the OS vendors to find a much wider distribution base than the ISO downloads that prevail today.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I've been using Mandrake Linux 9.1 on my Dell 8500 notebook for some time, and it did take a lot of fiddling to get all of the hardware working. The ACPI functions are still lacking (no suspend), mainly because I'm too lazy to work on setting it up.

However, now that the initial grunt work is done it works quite well. (Having said that, I shudder at the idea of updating the OS because it took so long to get to this point!) Lick the hardware and ACPI support problems and a lot more people will certainly find Linux an attractive alternative to Windoze for portable computing.

BTW, I specifically ordered this machine with NO wireless network capability. I frankly do not understand the attraction of "WiFi" or "wardriving" whatever it's called, given the inherent security problems of wireless networking. I just don't need access to the internet *that* badly, and I've been using it for over 20 years. My philosophy regarding the net is to dial in, get what I need, then disconnect and get on with my life.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I used to be a die hard Linux man, SUSE my drug of choice. I had a horrible experience with Dell's Inspirion 5100, something like this, and about this time I met a man in Starbucks' with an Apple iBook 500. Sweet looking machine, but I was not an Apple OS fan, in my opion pre X was just as crappy a Windows. He showed me the X Os, and I found out it had a terminal. He had no idea what it was, but I did. I did a little research, and found out X was Unix based. Sent back the Dell, and purchased an iBook 600. I now own a complete Apple solution; Powerbook Al 1Gh, Powerbook Al 867, eMac 800 Mhz, iMac 600, and the first iBook 600. All of this bought in the last 2 years.

I just set up a tax company using 21 iBooks, 4 eMacs, and 1 PowerPc, all running Virutal PC to run Orrtax. The owners are stunned with what we are able to do; no viruses, to shut down the network, and it all runs wirelessly.

My good old powerbook

Anonymous's picture

Hi guys,
I am a PowerBook Ti 800MHz owner for about 2 years and installed all upcoming upgrades of MacOS X.
I am the general manager of a small Software edition and Consulting firm and everybody has a Mac over there (iMacs 1GHz 17" flat screen) and I can tell you that this hardware + Operating system + Development tools are AWESOME !
First I am able to run ANY software out there (I know that there is multiple solutions for Linux to run Windows software, but still I like VirtualPC) could it be Mac, Windows or unix free-source which helps me a lot when I am on the field at my customer office.
Secondly the OS is getting REALLY BETTER overtime, giving me more power, easyness and stability.
Third, MacOS X (even the server version since 10.3) is a no-hassle virus-free Operating system that never breaks, so I don't spend time doing re-install, virus cleaning, troubleshooting, thus giving me more time for doing REAL business. I just have to give the software update tool a look every 3 months (and reboot only at that occasion!) and buy a major OS update every year.
At last Mac can be effective work tools longer than Wintel machines because even if they are 2 years old, they still can compete with the latests PC offering, so that preserve my investment longer than if I had chosen PCs...

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I have been battling with Linux on an HP nc4000 for the last week and a half (dual boot 80G) and have finally got it to the point where I can do everything I can do on my Powerbook (except run Microsoft Word, of course.) Talk about pain and suffering. Kernal patches, incorrect auto detection of network drivers, bad documentation were all contributers. I still find that I might as well keep the terminal window open continually, as I am constantly having to tweak things, and much basic functionality is only command line based. This is where Apple really has their act together - everything just works (no tweaking) and there is plenty of functionality in the core OS. If you don't believe me, try establishing a VPN connection on both w/ IPSec or PPTP, and you'll see what I mean. OSX is FAR more refined and tightly integrated. If only JBuilder ran as fast as the HP with Linux.

Have found that the Linuxant driverloader for WiFi is an awesome solution that works very well for ANY wireless card (and is easy to use.) Makes Windows XP drivers work from inside Linux, so it's a piece of cake to find a driver for your specific chipset - download it from the manufacturer. Fedora Core 1's power mgmt features are adequate and functional, though could be better.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Errr...why do we need to displace PowerBooks again? Just to run Linux? Run a distro on your PowerBook! If there's an open source iDVD competitor, download it and run it under KDE on your PowerBook running Mac OS X. All I got out of this article is that Doc decided to make life much more complex for himself for no apparent reason (except to torture test LoTD which, while a fine exercise, seems to get in the way of doing work).

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Doc's picture

Well, my work is torture testing LoTD, or LoTL. It's my job. A long-term assignment, even.

And yes, it does make life much more complex. But that's why they call it "work". Lucky me, it's work I enjoy.

You're right that I could run some kind of Linux on a PowerBook. (In fact, I already do that, on an old spare.) But since I want to goad the big PC OEMs into making killer Linux desktops and laptops, I wouldn't help much if I went straight to running Linux on hardware from Apple.

The T-40 is great iron. I want to see Linux rock on that iron, and I'll gladly suffer some frustrations until it does. If we don't learn something form the experience, I won't be doing my job.

Re: Apple is there...

Anonymous's picture

Hi

I am from Sweden, but have attended the yearly Linux Forum in Copenhagen for the past 3 years. Every year Apple have been there with their killer hardware, showing Mac OS X etc. At first my reaction was "what the f... are Apple doing here...", but they keept comming every year, and I finally had to get me one of those PowerBoks. Man, they are cool :-)

Apple, keep it comming...

Scott

Re: Apple is there...

Anonymous's picture

I once considered Linux the best OS there is given the fact that because it's robust, more secure, open soure and free. But given the fact that it still needs a lot of tweeking to be more user-friendly, and with the recent legal issues involving SCO, Mac OSX and Apple hardware proves to be the answer to many linux problems. I believe Linux will continue to be the nerd's OS, and Mac OSX as the OS "for the rest of us".

Re: Apple is there...

Anonymous's picture

The more I look at SCO's case, the more I realize it is completely baseless. It looks more like a fishing expedition than a legitimate grievance. Check out Groklaw sometime -- you'll be amazed at the details of SCO's bumbling and inane attacks.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

I have the T-41, and it is even better than the T-40. I bought the 8 hour battery, and it adds a couple onces to the overall weight, but it is dazzling. The idea of crawling around looking for a plug is history.

I only wish that we could find a way to build ActiveWords for Linux, and not give away our code, which seems contrary to the open source culture which I respect, because I can tell you that ActiveWords on the ThinkPad is dazzling.

Buzz

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

Can you give me one more dazzling, Buzz? I'm dazzled.

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

A guess here, but you might want to investigate the BSD license. Respect for the Open Source culture includes knowing there's more out there than the GPL. Perhaps one of the several license schemes out there will suite your company's needs.

Regards,

rl

Re: Driving to Laptopia

Anonymous's picture

My old Powerbook pismo dying in installments (bits of black plastic breaking off, battery going (after three years), dvd-player going, screen badly yellowing) meant I had to get a new laptop, too. After much deliberation, I decided to go for cheap & powerful and bought a Dell 5150, the sister of the Dell 5100, but with a Pentium M processor. For good measure, I bought two, since my wife needed a new laptop, too.
Installing SUSE linux on the thing proved to be astonishingly easy -- pop in the CD, have it install a base system, install apt-get for SUSE, update. And then I settled down for the real work: getting the dvd player to work, the cd-burner, connect to my camera, the wifi card, the audio -- the nvidia drivers. But except for the nvidia drivers, everything turned out to work already. Including power managent (cpu frequency scaling, battery monitoring), but not suspend/resume. That's to say: if I boot into 2.6, suspend resume works, but not in 2.4, where I can only suspend, not resume. In a 5GB partition I had reserved for re-installing Windows, I installed Debian, after having found out that the Windows XP CD's the Dell came with couldn't handle the graphics card, but I've still not managed to get even X working.
So, yes -- there is a lot of difference in which distribution works well on a laptop, and SUSE comes out very well for me.