February 6, 2007

Open Source Odysseys: Linux on the Laptop

Filed under: commons — Wendy @ 2:30 pm

Back in December, both the motherboard and the hard drive on my Thinkpad X41 Tablet died. Happily, Lenovo’s warranty service was superior, getting the machine back to me fixed three days after I shipped it out broken. Due to the timing of the hard drive failure, however, I found myself with a blank hard drive and no USB CD-ROM drive from which to re-load Windows.

From problem springs opportunity: I’d wanted to install GNU/Linux on this machine, and now I didn’t have to deal with re-partitioning! If I needed to move back to Windows later, I’d be no worse off. So I set up a network install from an Ubuntu disk I had around, and within the hour I was setting up applications and copying data back.

A month in, I haven’t regretted the switch nor pined for Vista. With the help of ThinkWiki, the machine sleeps, wakes, and works better than ever, even rotating the screen automatically in tablet mode. Firefox looks the same on any platform; OpenOffice.org has been a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office, allowing seamless exchange with colleagues’ .doc and .ppt files and making it easy to generate PDFs, as a bonus; Thunderbird handles and filters email almost as well as Eudora; Wine runs the odd but necessary Windows app; and the command line and development environment underneath it all offer customization possibilities much harder to achieve in Windows. Ubuntu’s focus on combining power with ease of use has really paid off.

3 Comments

  1. I’d be curious to learn whether network-manager is working out for you on Ubuntu. On Fedora, I find it to be indispensable, and particularly like the fact that WPA works without any fancy system-level configuration work.

    Comment by Thomas Roessler — February 7, 2007 @ 9:00 am

  2. Eventually. That was one of the more painful apps to install, primarily because the Ubuntu packager seems to have made it zero-configuration by making it inactive on previously configured interfaces.
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WifiDocs/NetworkManager

    I’m still trying to find where to indicate selection of preferred networks and how to de-select a network that’s been used once.

    Comment by Wendy — February 7, 2007 @ 9:28 am

  3. That said, network-manager does in fact enable easy connection to WPA networks.

    And here, the SSID deletion option:
    http://live.gnome.org/DarrenAlbers/NetworkManagerFAQ#head-bef25c7fff6853c702b745626a9b6fb40058f0e4

    gconftool-2 –recursive-unset /system/networking/wireless/networks/

    Comment by Wendy — February 7, 2007 @ 9:30 am

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