Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Perfect (Ubuntu) Linux Laptop

So I recently purchased another laptop, after surviving the last Dell fiasco. I bought an Acer Aspire 3620, and it runs Ubuntu Dapper beautifully. Every piece of hardware is supported out of the box, including the onboard wireless (I did a bit more research this time before I bought it). Here are the basic specs:

  • Memory: 512MB
  • HDD: 80GB (IDE, not SATA)
  • Ethernet: Realtek 8139
  • Wireless: Atheros 5212
  • Video: Intel 915 (1280x800)
  • Sound: Intel ICH6 AC'97

So the resolution is that odd 1280x800, but I didn't need the 915resolution package to get it to work with the Xorg in Dapper. Also, the ACPI hibernate works perfectly, even properly unloading/reloading the wireless drivers for you. No configuration was necessary after installation.

The only thing unusual about the install was that Ubuntu's live installer crashed during partitioning, while I was trying to wipe out the original Windows partitions. I used the Debian Sarge text-based installer to create the initial Linux partitions and swap, then went back and installed Dapper with no issues.

If you are wondering about Debian proper on this laptop, Sarge still uses XFree86, as opposed to the latest Xorg, and so does not support the 915 video chipset. A way around this would be install Xorg from Etch or backports, then the 915resolution package. Etch installed on this laptop when I tried it, but Etch networking (via udev) is, well flaky at the moment. I also had to manually install the madwifi wireless drivers under Etch to get the Atheros chipset to be recognized.

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