I thought about doing a big write up on all of this. Dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s — making sure I included all the details and attempt to be partly impartial. But it’s too much work. I also thought about not mentioning it at all. But I can’t let it pass completely unmentioned.
That is – my experience with the “Emperor Linux” company. They sell laptops with Linux preinstalled and supposedly with everything functioning. In short and in hindsight I think it was a mistake buying from them. I should’ve just got the laptop straight and installed Linux myself if that’s what I wanted to do.
Perhaps it was that I chose a Sony; japanese companies aren’t known for their liberal flow of info to do with their hardware, thus drivers are hard for open-source people to write. Maybe it was my choice of distro to be installed; Suse 9.3.
But mostly I think it was Emperor Linux’s half-baked kernel and xorg.conf file. Many things didn’t work — even the scroll-wheel on the Logitec mouse didn’t work. My digital camera wasn’t recognised, (when it had been with previous Suse versions on another computer I once had) the USB key-ring wasn’t recognised. The sound didn’t work. The hibernate button didn’t really seem to work either.
All those kinds of things are (when functional) what you’re paying the extra for.
So I wiped all E.L’s crud and installed Mandrake (mandriva) LE 2005. The mouse, sound etc worked straight up. But I still haven’t decided if I’ll continue using Linux.
Being stuck with Windows XP this last 7 months has been partly a pain in the arse, partly breezy. The old dextop I was borrowing for a good six months was XP – but in Hangul, so I didn’t know what was going on. But pretty much everything you plug into windows works – just like that. All media content on the net is viewable/listenable.
And now on the Vaio – in English, it’s quite stable and usable. I don’t seem to have a bug up my bum about bill gates anymore. Most of the open-source projects that are genuinely successful are also available for windows. Such as: the Gimp, Firefox, OpenOffice, JEdit, (as a text editor) Apache and Abiword. I haven’t given it a proper try yet but there’s even Blackbox/fluxbox (alternative window managers) able to run over the top of the regular Windows environment.
Hibernate does work under Windows, as you’d expect it to, and there’s other stuff too like the repair/restore tool; handy if you’re forever fucking shit up like me. It will take the computer back in time to e.g. this morning, last week or even all the way back to the factory install if you want.
The laptop itself is a Sony Vaio s-series, vgn-s380P. The screen’s fantastic bright – and one of the first things that drew me to it when I was it in the stores. As for the rest of it, it works.
A couple of things I’ve come to appreciate about the old clamshell iBook with OS X are that – the trackpad mouse really was designed to be used. It was comfortable enough to use all the time, in contrast, the Sony’s mouse buttons seem little more than ornimental. Also OS X comes out of sleep when the lid is opened. Windows takes about ten seconds.