- Advantage from Knoppix: no file copy error when installing (same CDROM burner)
- Unusual video resolution requires a custom entry in the XF86Config-4
Allright, let's go through the list of hardware on the laptop:
Battery life - check, Ubuntu automatically provided an applet that shows the percentage of battery life. Very cool!
Power Management - uncheck, although the battery has the same duration regardless on Windows or on Linux, I notice that the Fn-F5 combo that is supposed to trigger hibernation doesn't work in Linux.
Scanner - check, XSane is a "sane" scanning program, it even has a built in OCR feature. Awesome!
USB Drive - check, the usb-drive is automatically mounted on the Ubuntu desktop. As expected, good job!
Wireless network adapter - almost-check, Ubuntu detects and installs the correct kernel module driver for the laptop's internal wi-fi adapter. It also provided an applet to show the connection strength (quite impressive!) However, I have to create a script that actually gets a dynamic ip address from my dhcp server:
# replace BLINGBLING with your wireless network's name
# replace ENCKEY with your encryption key
iwconfig eth1 essid BLINGBLING key ENCKEY
ifconfig eth1 up
Although it seems like a bother at first, I kinda grew to like it this way, it's convenient to be able to activate and deactivate the adapter. More on wireless experience below in the "Application" section.
Touchpad - almost-check, although it works overall (even the special region for vertical scrolling), tapping on the touchpad acts like middle-click, not left-click as expected. I installed a nifty front end to the Synaptics driver called "qsynaptics" but still it doesn't help (the program reported the correct mapping to left-click, but it's still behaving like a middle-click).
Printer - check, I was able to connect and use the network printers at the office (HP LaserJet 6) and a Brother HL-1440 at home. Impressive!
Firewire - unknown, I don't own a video camera nor external HD, thus I can't test it
Speaker - check, the harman/kardon brand doesn't dissapoint. The sound is good enough even for watching DVD's. Not bad at all!
QuickPlay(TM) - check, this is a neat feature (unique to this laptop series, as far as I know) that allows you to watch DVD or listen to music without booting into Windows (or Ubuntu). This feature is undisturbed by my installing Ubuntu. NOTE: Ironically, it works by using linux in a small separate partition.
Now, here's the fun part, this is where we actually get our jobs done. I thought coming back to Gnome after so many years using KDE would be a "culture shock" for me, that wasn't the case at all, I think the Gnome team has done a great job by sprinkling easy to access menus to the typical Desktop and System configurations. This makes the transition really painless for me. In addition, I love how Gnome handles compressed files, it offers to open downloaded compressed-files in nautilus so I don't have to put it in a temp directory and delete it later. Nautilus also provides a context menu for creating archives. What an improvement!
One thing that takes some getting used to is the Apple-style dialogs that is quite different from Windows Explorer-style on KDE. Also, I immediately set Nautilus to "always browse", so it won't open a separate windows everytime I go up and down the directory structure. I know that this is touted as the "spatial" feature, but I personally just can't stand it. If I wanted a separate window, I'll click it out of you, Capt. Nemo. (hehehe, got it? Nautilus... Captain Nemo... no? ...ehm, forget it then). I also like the ability to type nautilus . on a terminal to pop up a Nautilus browser on the current directory. It's one thing that I like in Windows (except of course you type explorer . instead of nautilus).
The usual suspects such as Firefox, OpenOffice, Evolution, Gimp, etc. all run as expected. No surprises there. On to the meat and potato (at least for developers like me) that is Software Development tools. My main weapon Python is installed by default, no problem expected, none sprung out. Next, how can I get Java? Traditionally Java is a bit of a pain to install due to the fact that it is not Open Source. However, thanks to Ubuntu's community, installing Java on a debian system is easier than ever, just follow the instructions here. Soon I was able to download Eclipse 3.01 (see screenshot) and Tomcat 5.5 and be on my merry way to develop web-applications.
Next, installing Subversion and RapidSVN is also easy with Synaptic. I was also able to install a VPN client to connect to my office when I need to work from home (details below).
To satisfy my desktop publishing craving, (not really, I have been working on a white-paper for the PM methodology that I've developed) I am using Scribus. An excellent Open Source DTP (Desktop Publishing) program that outputs professional quality PDF files suitable for publications. One of the main requirement for DTP is the availability of quality fonts. Ubuntu is especially cool in this regard (even compared to Knoppix) because the MS Core fonts are installable using Synaptic and are automatically registered to the XFont server so they can be used immediately in programs like Scribus, OpenOffice, etc. As you can see from the screenshot, the wide-screen aspect ratio of this laptop makes it extremely convenient when working on two facing pages.