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The Hell-of-Win is over for me!

Posted on Oct 31 2009, 21:16 in category "Personal" [ Permalink | 0 comments ]
Tags:  digital-era 

Five years ago I purchased myself a gorgeous toy — a newly released all-in-one sub-notebook Fujitsu P7010D. The bundle of joy served me well for over two years. It was a pleasure to use and carry around, everybody wanted to know what it was and how to get one. But then my antivirus software expired and the XP OS started to degrade, too, causing glitches here and there. And I decided to reinstall the operating system...

I tried to reinstall the original Windows system at first. After a long night of upgrade reboots I finally had my notebook happily running again but not for long — it died before I managed to get to Fry's electronics for a new antivirus. On my second attempt I switched the wifi off right after the system upgrades were done, but it died for another reason — I left the notebook running on battery power after watching a DVD, the battery discharged and the computer never booted again. Installing Windows for the third time was too much for me, and so the beautiful computer was placed on a shelf to wait for better times.

It would have sat there forever, probably, if it was not for the netbook trend which pervaded my mind: I once again started to dream of a tiny and pretty $200 computer I could take with me everywhere. But hey, didn't I already own one? It was ruining my sweet consumeric dreams.

This is how I decided to revive my sub-notebook for the third time. In the corner of my mind I had a notion that trying Linux might be a good idea as it has matured a lot and became much more user-friendly in the recent years. Hence, after a consultation with Lev, I installed Ubuntu.

It turned out to be a great choice! The whole installation took about 30 minutes, followed by about 40 minutes of downloading and installing updates and a single reboot. Wow! My excitement grew as I realized that every piece of hardware was immediately functional without tweaks or driver upgrades of any kind.

After two weeks of netbooking, here's my update:

Additional software installed

  • the latest Firefox (Synaptic Package Manager provides only major version upgrades, so I had to bypass it),
  • VLC player (because I can't live without it),
  • Skype,
  • Flash Player,
  • BIOS upgrade (not a part of Linux, of course, but I figured mine was way too old),
  • Subversion (because even a housewife can have projects of her own sitting in the repository across the net),
  • Quanta Plus for web editing.

All installations went smoothly and didn't require reboots. The rest of essential software was already there.

Troubles/disappointments discovered

  • DVD not playing — resolved by a running a single script,
  • external Dell screen native resolution missing — not yet resolved,
  • arrow keys do not work in vi in text editing mode — resolved (it turned out that it was a proper behavior of vi, using vim was the solution),
  • Ricoh SD card reader not working — I figured I was not the only one with this problem, so I don't even bother trying to find a solution. I can always download the photos via a USB cable.

Pleasures/joys of the new life

  • I suddenly discovered that my touch-pad has multi-touch capabilities.
  • All my functional keys are working as expected (something I had trouble with under Windows, even with native drivers!)
  • I easily redefined the hotkeys to my liking: "Windows" key now opens... a Terminal window, "Menu" key opens my home folder in file manager, and "Alt-Space" combination switches me between English and Russian, just like my OS X does on my primary machine.
  • CD-DVD reader/CD writer is still beyond all compliments — I was able to read CDs and DVDs that would not open anywhere else (PowerBook, MacBook Pro and IBM notebook).
  • Flawless access to home RAID.
  • Evolution Mail provided out of the box is quite usable, I'm gonna keep it.
  • The battery (5y.o. now) is still good for some 3 hours of work! I seriously doubt that any $200 netbook battery would last half a decade.

Overall impressions: the computer boots and runs pretty fast using its 1.1GHz Pentium M processor and only 512Mb of memory. It's fully operational, internetable and easy to use. I recently learned that to experience a truly user-friendly OS I need to try Linux Mint, so I would probably give it a try when the release of Mint 8 comes out. That said, I am an absolutely happy camper even now. Bye-bye, Windows — what a relief...

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