2016 will be the year of the ARM laptop

Slashdot links to the story that quotes Linus Torvalds’ address of the LinuxCon 2015:

“2016 will be the year of the ARM laptop”

For those who’s rusty on the CPU hardware side, he’s a very easy to follow article, describing the key difference between ARM and x86 architectures.

Installing Linux on the Chromebook Pixel

Installing Linux on the Chromebook Pixel

From this point forward, every time you boot, it’s going to say that Chrome OS can’t be found or something similarly alarming like that, just ignore and hit Ctr-D or wait 30 seconds to boot into Chrome OS. But that won’t be relevant for long as we’re going to wipe it off the machine below :-)

10 World’s Most Expensive Laptops

The other day I got into an interesting discussion with dad about laptops.  Specifically, about expensive laptops.  Using Linux, enjoying a greater utilization of any resource, and being constantly broke, I am not very versed in expensive hardware, laptop or not.  So I did a couple of Google searches to educate myself.  Here is a good lineup of the world’s most expensive laptops for the year of 2011:

  1. Luvaglio. $1,000,000.  Yeah, right.
  2. Tulip E-go Diamond. $355,000.  Girly fashion thing.
  3. Ego for Bentley. $20,000. Another girly fashion thing.
  4. Voodoo Envy H-171. $8,500. This is where the list starts getting real.
  5. Rock Xtreme SL8. $5,000.  The specs for this machine look nice.
  6. Alienware Area 51. $5,000. If I had to choose a laptop from that list, this would be the one.
  7. Lenovo Thinkpad W700DS. $4,500.  Yey! for a dual screen laptop.
  8. Toshiba Qosmio G-35-AV660. $3,500.  If I had that much money to spend on a laptop, I’d get myself a Lenovo or HP with a few extra options.
  9. Dell M6400. $3,000.  They tried to put as much as stuff in it as would fit.
  10. Acer Ferrari 1100.  $3,000. The only reason this is here, because a list of 10 items sounds better than a list of 9 items.

Where did all the Linux netbooks go?

Adam Williamson asks the question after doing a bit of research across several major vendors and online shops.

where the hell did all the Linux netbooks go? In 2007 you couldn’t buy a netbook with Windows; in 2008 to 2009 you could still walk into a big box store just about anywhere and pick from a few with Linux; now, you can buy one from one store in England with an Android dual boot, one from a hidden page on Ubuntu’s site with an inferior configuration to its equally-priced Windows equivalent, and one from a very well hidden bit of HP’s site with a $132 premium over its identically-specified Windows equivalent.

I am not a big expert in this matter, but I tend to agree with some of his conclusions:

the cynical side of me can come up with a lot of explanations as to where all those pre-loads went, and all of them involve large amounts of money going out of Microsoft bank accounts

And I think that’s pretty reasonable.  After the netbook market is different from the desktop one.  In the desktop world, Linux has a number of ongoing problems, such as office applications, games, and so on and so forth.  But most netbooks aren’t powerful enough to run those applications.  Their primary use is of a simple Internet device – browsing the web, reading email, chatting, etc.  And for this purpose, the operating system is pretty much irrelevant.  Most of these tasks are done in the browser.  And browser-wise Linux is rich – Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and more.

So, how come all these netbooks are now selling with Windows and not Linux.  It can’t be just Microsoft Internet Explorer.  After all, most end users don’t even know what the browser is.  There must be another reason.  And probably it’s not a technical reason.  And as Adam says, it must be some of those reasons that involve large amounts of money going out of Microsoft bank accounts.

If you have any other ideas, please do share via comments.

Lenovo G550 laptop

A couple of days ago I bought two Lenovo G550 laptops – one for me, one for my wife.  After spending a day browsing all the online shops and driving around all computer outlets in the city, I decided that this is the best option available.

Specifications: Dual-core 2Ghz Intel CPU, 15.6 inch glossy screen (WXGA, maximum resolution 1366×768), 4 GB of RAM, 250 GB hard disk, a bunch of USB ports, HDMI out, DVD writer, WiFi, and all the standard stuff, weighting at around 2.7 kilograms. Battery life is around 4 hours. Price: 500 EUR + 15% VAT = 575 EUR.

Both machines are running Linux (Fedora 12) already, even though they were coming with some Windows pre-installed.  I wouldn’t know which one since I haven’t even booted into that once.  Fedora Linux installation was straight-forward and everything worked, except for the wireless networking, which needs an extra step to enable those Broadcom drivers.  Gladly, the required step is widely covered in the blogosphere. – basically, enable RPM Fusion yum repository, install kmod-wl package, and reboot your machine.

Everything is working find and I really enjoy the laptop, except for a few things that annoy me with its keyboard.  The layout is somewhat weird.  First of all, I am not used to having a number pad on a laptop keyboard.  But that’s OK – if there is space, then why not, right?  Well, there is space, but I think it would have been utilized better for Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys.  As they are now, PgUp and PgDn are located next to navigation arrow keys and Home/End keys are only accessible through a Fn key, which is really strange.  On top of that, Insert and Delete keys are in a different part of the keyboard – on top of the Backspace key.  And while I don’t use Caps Lock all that often, some people will notice that Caps Lock indicator is missing, as well as NumLock and ScrollLock.  What can I say?  That’s one weird keyboard layout.

Other than that though there is nothing that I can complain about.  The machine is nice and cool and pleasant to use.  My wife seems to enjoy it as well.

Fedora 12 and IntelliBook (rtl8187se)

I recently got my hands on an IntelliBook netbook (site in German, but the machine is actually Clevo M810L).  It’s a really small, light, and simple machine, which I got for nothing, and which, I haven’t got it for nothing, would cost me around 400 EUR.  The truth is, if I wouldn’t have bought it for 400 EUR.

intellibook

The good things about it are: small, light, built-in WiFi and a rather large 160 GB hard disk.  The bad things are: non-standard keyboard layout (I touch type, so I don’t mind, but the other people in my home do), non-Linux-supported web camera, and really low battery life (around 2 hours or so).  Also the touchpad always gets in the way, and the whole case has this cheap plastic feel to it.

When I first got the machine, it was running Ubuntu 9.10.  While I have nothing against Ubuntu, I am a Fedora person.  I want a regular desktop, and I want my commands and configurations to be where I am looking for them.  So I replaced Ubuntu 9.10 with a recently released Fedora 12.  The Live USB installation was as simple as it can possible be – boot from USB stick into a desktop, click “Install to hard disk“, and click Next three or four times.

Once the Fedora 12 Gnome desktop booted up, I was slightly disappointed to find out that wireless wasn’t working.  Since it was working just fine in Ubuntu, I was pretty sure that fixing the problem won’t be hard.  And  I was right.

First, I established that the wireless card uses RealTek chipset (rtl8187se).  Secondly, I Googled for rtl8187se and Fedora 12, which led me to this blog post, comments to which suggested that I need to add RPMFusion to my yum repositories and install kmod-staging* packages (there are two of them, one generic, and one with specific kernel version).  Once the packages are installed, loaded up the driver with “modprobe rtl817se“, and restart both network and NetworkManager servers.  Not even a reboot is needed – NeworkManager picks up the wireless network adapter and connects to the network.  A test reboot confirmed that nothing else needs to be done and everything is just fine.

With that, I now have a little computer, which is easy to move around, and can even be given to my kid to play with.  If it wasn’t for the short battery life, it would be perfect for travelling.  So, either I’ll find an extended battery for this thing (which I doubt), or I will get myself another netbook for all the travels that I do.  Carrying around a full fledged laptop becomes heavy and ridiculous.

Second monitor

Being so much at work during the last few month, I’ve noticed that many IT guys enjoy working with a two monitor setup.  I never paid much attention to that fact and thought that those really need a second monitor are a few and that its mostly the show off for the rest.

Last week, in a very spontaneous move, I decided to try it out.  We had a few of those 19-inch AOC monitors around, so I wasn’t exactly robbing anyone or anything like that.  Within minutes I had unwrapped, connected, and configured in my Gnome, and I have to say that that is one of the best technology experiences I had in the last few years!  It’s totally awesome!

Now, having two monitors configured as one huge desktop, I can either keep my browser separated from my consoles, or more code than every before in front of my eyes without switching virtual desktops, or have all my instant messaging at hand without polluting my main workspace.  That’s brilliant, I tell you.

Downsides?  Yes, sure.  I haven’t yet learned to handle the setup properly, so I have to logout of my graphical interface and log back in every time I take my laptop home.  It would have been so much easier if just plugging the monitor in would work.  I hear that a docking station might improve the situation, but that remains to be seen.

And what I want now?  More monitors.  I’d love to have another monitor at work, and I’d really want to have at least one more at home.  But there is no place to put it at home (I’m working on a dining table), and I’m not sure there is a way to connect two additional monitors to a laptop at work.  But overall, multi-monitor setups is definitely an area I need to investigate more.