New Laptop

I forgot to mention that this weekend I also got a new laptop. We found an Acer Aspire 5600 on a pretty good discount at Circuit City. Not a place I normally shop, but this time the experience was actually pretty good. Not that they had the laptop on display anywhere, nor did anyone attempt to help us, but the check out guy was really friendly. I realize I have set the lowest possible bar for that store, but I was still pleasantly surprised when they managed to meet it.

It’s a 1.6Ghz Core 2 Duo with 2GB of ram. The main reason I went with Acer is that all the parts are fairly generic intel parts and so they should in theory work well with linux. Shockingly enough when I installed Ubuntu (Gutsy Gibbon) everything came up properly. I was able to scan wireless networks and connect to my father’s WPA encrypted one without editing a single configuration file. Everything came up perfectly with no futzing with the exception of the multimedia hotkeys and the built in webcam.

The webcam was just a matter of finding the right driver (uvcdriver) and software (luvcview). I did have to build a kernel module and setup some options for it, but c’mon that’s small potatoes. Oh, and I had to turn off 3d effects temporarily or the program would crash. But let’s be honest, I was just being obsessive. The chance of me actually using a webcam frequently is pretty slim.

The hotkeys required a separate kernel module acerhk. I ran it with the options ‘force_series=6000 probe=0 verbose=4’ and everything worked great.

While that might seem like a lot of work in 2 days I’ve managed to get a linux laptop fully functioning. I had my last one for 3 years and it often wouldn’t let me connect to wireless networks which I think is a major problem. I could never use a GUI with my networking, I was constantly editing files and bringing up and down services. No more. It’s wonderful. I feel like I could actually hand this laptop to a non-technical user and they’d have no trouble with it. Plus it has cool 3d effects when I shuffle windows around.

All in all, I’m really happy with it. It’s speedy, has a wide screen and I LOVE not having to muck around with wireless.

Tonight I go to help Ashly and Tarv install fans. Julie and Stella are coming along so it promises to be exciting. Wish me luck.