Kubuntu On My Shiny New Laptop

My shiny new Dell XPS M1330 arrived on Monday, so you might say my week got off to a good start.

I have been in the market for a new one for a while, as my old one was really just not cutting it anymore, and I really felt like I needed something a little lighter and more portable. I was initially drawn to the Sony VAIO SZ series for the amount of power crammed into a sleek, attractive and fairly lightweight package. The only drawback I could find was the hefty price tag, but as I could not find anything else around 4 lbs with a 13.3 inch screen ( I just wasn't sure I could deal with 12.1), and a decent graphic card, I was very nearly sold. I tried to put off the purchase as long as possible hoping the price would go down, and I really didn't have such a pressing need for it over the last couple of months apart from just pure technolust.

I had noticed the Dell XPS M1330 before, and though it did have similar specs to the Sony, it was priced at $2199. Yikes. I pretty well crossed that off the list then and there, but to my surprise and delight, Dell did some major post-holiday price slashing, and I noticed the object of my desire had dropped to $1399 with 3GB of RAM. Awesome. I'll take two (which we did, and my husband also has a shiny new laptop of his own).

The one major drawback of all this is that my shiny new laptop (white, for anyone wondering) shipped with MS Vista pre-installed. Now, I must say that I am not a Microsoft-hater. I use Linux, I like Linux, but I don't like to judge others for their OS choices. That said, I had never used Vista, and while I was happy for the opportunity to see and play with it, well, I wasn't ready to marry it so to speak, so out came the Kubuntu CD.

I decided I would keep Windows on the machine and set it up to dual boot. I must say, partitioning the hard drive with Vista's built-in tool was absurdly easy, and I hope this eventually leads to more people "taking the plunge" and giving Linux a go. There are handy tutorials all over the place, so there is really no reason for the new Linux user or even just the Linux-curious to make a little room on their hard drive for their distro of choice.

The installation process is simple, and there is no reason to bore anyone with those details, as I am sure we have all been there and done that. Where this install differs immensely however, is that it all just worked. Quite frankly, I was overjoyed. My last Kubuntu install involving a Wi-Fi card was a nightmare. After trying what seemed like a gazillion versions of the windows driver and ndiswrapper, I finally got my desktop at home to play nice with Kubuntu and wireless, but it was a somewhat painful task that I would imagine would turn many new users away. Granted, many desktop installations don't have much use for wifi, so it is generally the laptops that get installed or upgraded last (See James Gray's recent laptop epiphany here.) This time it all just worked. Even the media buttons work.

So why do you care? Hopefully it is because you like me. The real reason? Linux evangelism. The easier it is for new users to get going, the more our community will grow. It really is that simple.

Anyone out there with a shiny new (or maybe slightly less shiny and new) Dell XPS M1330 can have the same great experience as I did. If you have one, or know someone who does, pass it on. Know a Windows user with one? Hand them an Ubuntu CD (or Kubuntu), and tell them, "Come on, you know you want to. Everyone's doing it."

You don't have to get rid of Windows. Just try a sample. You'll be hooked in no time.


Katherine Druckman is webmistress at LinuxJournal.com. You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit


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new laptop

fezziwig's picture

I shopped carefully on eBay and got a Thinkpad T60 for $700, like new (no signs of any use whatsoever), 2gb, 1.8ghz, 80gb and widescreen. Came with XP so I just partitioned with gpartedCD and dualboot installed ubuntu 7.10. Runs great, wireless and all. It's a gem. Even prints on my old HP5830 without any problem nor installation. I have another partition available so I'll put MythTV on that. The T60 has enough power to run HDTV from a USB stick.


Shawn Powers's picture

The first (K)ubuntu CD is free, but THEN...

Well, actually, they're all free from that point on as well. So yeah, give it a try. :)

Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.