Friday, July 15, 2005

Laptop Linux

Frustrated by salesmen borrowing my laptop all the time I decided to buy a new one and give them my old one. I wanted something smaller anyway - my old one wouldn't fit in my backpack!

I'd had my eye on a Panasonic Toughbook W2 but it was pretty pricey. When I saw Future Shop had a special on an Averatic 3250 for almost a third the price, I decided it was too good a deal to pass up. I'm sure it's not as tough as the Toughbook but if it broke I could buy another one and I'd still be ahead. And despite the sale price it came fairly generously equipped - 80gb hard drive, 512mb of memory, and even a DVD burner.

I knew I'd want to put Linux on it, and I'd had trouble before with Linux on laptops so I did a quick Google search for Linux on this laptop. It looked like other people had been successful without too much trouble. Several of the references had used Ubuntu and I liked how it had both an install version and a live cd version, and that they were single cd's (not four like the latest Fedora Core) I downloaded both cd's of Ubuntu 5.04

I booted from the live cd and it seemed to work ok so I went ahead with the install. I kept Windows and partitioned the machine so I could dual boot. (My apologies to the purists, but I still have things I need Windows for.) Although some people had reported issues with the video drivers it seemed ok to me. Then again, I'm not trying to play games.

The only challenge was getting the wireless working. I use wireless at home so it was fairly important. Following instructions I'd found through with my Google search, I downloaded the Windows 2000 RT2500 drivers and used ndiswrapper to install them. Ubuntu came with ndiswrapper and wireless-tools already installed so I just had to get ndiswrapper-utils. I hadn't used Ubuntu before but didn't have too much trouble figuring out the Synaptic Package Manager.

So far everything is working great. I'm considering switching my desktop machine from Fedora Core to Ubuntu - partly for consistency, and partly because Ubuntu is smaller and seems more "approachable".

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