Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Toy

I have a rather old laptop. Considering that I acquired it at the end of 2001, it's served me exceedingly well, and proved rather robust. All good things must come to and end, and, although I've kept the laptop alive despite a gradually failing hard-drive for some time, the screen, which never quite recovered from water damage due to being caught in some rather heavy rain on the bike, eventually gave up the ghost.

Thus I have a new, shiny, fast toy. I acquired a Fujitsu-Siemens Li1718 laptop (dual-core 1.78Ghz Pentium, 160GB harddisk, ATI graphics, etc) (pictures here). Overall, a very nice shiny toy.

My home desktop machine is still marginally more powerful, but, considering I only spent 7000 rand on the laptop, and I spent slightly more than that on the desktop machine 18 months ago, it's quite a testament to how technology prices have continued to fall.

Installing Debian was quite painless - The latest etch installer had minimal trouble, and upgrading to lenny was completely painless, thanks to doing it at campus, with a nice fast local mirror available (I've not been tracking testing for a while, so I thought this was a good time to start doing so again). The only thing not working out of the box is the wireless network card, but there are patches for madwifi floating around, so hopefully that will fix itself in due course, and I'm not such a heavy wireless user that it really matters. The graphics card is currently not accelerating OpenGL stuff, but the current work on the DRI drivers should solve that fairly soon. There was a time when I would have booted into the windows partition just to check things, but these days my confidence in Linux's hardware support is such that I no longer bother, so I honestly don't know what was pre-installed on the machine.

And, with Eskom's current failure to provide the country with reliable power, it is nice to once again have a machine with a battery life that can be measured in more than seconds (Of course, this means I lose an excuse not to do work, but the toy's worth it.)

1 comment:

Stefan said...

I hope FSC improved the heat-dissipation situation -- my Amilo Pi1536 gets boiling hot. Earlier this year, my power supply also went, and after about 4 months of negotiations with FSC for a new one (I was about 2 weeks out of warranty, of course), I just grabbed a new one from Hong Kong (costing R250 instead of the official one for R500+).

Those things aside, I am very happy with the laptop, especially now that I can successfully hibernate and sleep (a little bonus that came with the latest fglrx driver). The only piece of hardware that doesn't work correctly is the sound card, which refuses to use the internal or external microphone sockets.

A very useful piece of software is Intel's "powertop", which helps you to tweak the most out of your batteries.

From time to time I write up configuration tricks here: