Well, I built a new laptop to give as a gift; then I bought one for myself. The first real computer I have ever had personally. Granted I did not buy it new but for me this is new. Below is the best bandwidth speed I have seen in awhile.
Speaking of bandwidth. My ISP is having issues, man that can drive you nuts. I was tweaking my machines, my router everything possible. Since it was sporadic it was even more frustrating. It also seemed to coincide with Microsoft having issues with XBox Live. I just figured it was my ISP but a friend forwarded me a news report that caused me to look a little deeper (well as much as my sporadic Internet connectivity would allow). It would seem that someone failed to account for holidays sales and the service simply didn’t have the capacity to handle all of those who received a new console. The bigger issue goes hand in hand with the convenience of the Live platform. Those of us who use our Live account to access XBox, Zune, mail, etc… the service issues were causing problems across the board. All seems stable now. Regarding my ISP I did receive an email from them indicating that they have been experiencing issues in my area.
During the holidays I finished trying all of the mainstream Linux distributions. Yes they are almost free, but cmon the average user will need real support not some community forum so the free tag seems invalid. I like Fedora best but as I saw with several flavors of Linux the more I pushed it in terms of customizing and tweaking the more it failed. Ultimately Fedora just went blank after I installed Opera (I really just don’t care for Firefox). Right now I am running Ubuntu.
Linux is great for my older laptop. Getting past the issues with getting wireless to work, which seems different for each type of Linux, seems amateurish to me. Yes, I have only been using the Desktop versions of these Linux instances and will start testing the server versions (again the premise of them being free is a misnomer). Having built a new machine to give to a user below are some points that I think will keep Linux from being a true competitor in the near future:
- Software Installs; I understand the science and respect that everyone thinks they have built a better mouse trap but…. the process of downloading a tar file, extracting it and then figuring out what method to use to actually turn the source code into something usable seems to be asking the general user community too much. Lots of people can figure it out but I just see this as an issue. There are several easy ways to do the install but they seem to differ between distributions. Before IT started locking down user desktops one of our biggest problems was users installing screen savers, toolbars, etc…. Well considering how complicated installs are IT probably won’t have to lock down these nodes because I really don’t think most users would be able to do it…. determine what file to download, do I need to use make to create the install, do I use RPM, YUM or some other tool….
- Hardware; I was impressed how a few versions of Linux connected to my new printer but on more than one instance the version of HPLIP was not current enough ….. as I have already mentioned, support for wireless especially with all of these laptops that have built in wireless. ndiswrapper seems easy enough but I had to do some digging to get the instructions as they seem to differ from version to version. Luckily I had a running Vista instance I could do my internet searches (yes I use Live not Google) for the solution but if this was my only machine? Again I just think it is not as easy as the alternative. One other hardware issue or the use of it; my old laptop running Vista had a decent resolution. I have yet to get the same resolution from any of the Linux distributions whether they use KDE or GNOME.
- Support; just critical. I don’t mind searching through the Wiki or scouring the community forums but…. As an example by Fedora instance just went dark after I installed Opera and started using it… lights were on but nothing on the display… all key combinations, pulled the power and battery….. still nothing. A wiki page or community forum are pretty useless when you have a brick….
I like Unix, it is a cool concept but I just don’t see it being something I recommend to general users.
My new machine is an HP Pavilion dv9500z. I bought it as refurbished and quite frankly it looks brand new. AMD Turion64 Dual-Core. Going to 2GB of memory seems to be the big boost. It only scores a 2.6 with Windows Vista but my other boxes scored higher yet this one screams… oh well. Running Windows Vista Home Premium. The 17 inch display is cool. The keyboard is interesting. I have been using laptops so much I will need to adjust to having a keyboard that actually includes the full number pad on the right hand side. I didn’t get the model with an integrated web cam, again I just don’t have a need for it. I have bought two HP Pavilions in the last month….. this blue glowing light for every LED (power button, wireless, disk, CPU, touch pad, etc…) is a bit much but when the room is dark it is pretty cool. Speaking of the touchpad, hey all laptop manufacturers… get rid of this stupid thing! The stick like on the ThinkPad models are better (yes just my opinion) and use well less real estate on the keyboard. I like having an additional USB port as well as the 5-in-1 data card reader. It is nice to be able to just remove the SD card from my camera and plug it into the laptop instead of finding the cable and connecting my camera that way. Not sure I would have paid full price for this laptop but I definitely feel I am getting my money’s worth with this one. Now I just have to hook up my new USB Missile Launcher and have fun with the ducks!!! Just kidding.