posted by Eugenia Loli on Fri 5th Nov 2004 01:55 UTC
IconSan Jose-based LinuxCertified.com sent us one of their best-selling laptops, the LC2430. We've used it for more than a month with four different distributions and here's what we think about it.

Hardware characteristics

My model came with an Intel 2.8 GHz P4 and 512 MB of RAM standard. It features a 40 GB drive, a 15" SXGA+ TFT with 1400x1050 resolution and an ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 with 64MB VRAM (the Xorg r200 3D driver works hardware-accelerated for OpenGL games and apps). It also has an integrated 3-in-1 card reader supporting SD/MMC/MS cards, an optical DVD/CDRW Combo Drive, built-in 10/100 networking (natsemi driver included in all default kernels), 56k internal modem (third party slmodem driver required), a PCMCIA/CardBus socket for Type II, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a mini Firewire port and more (check web page). The laptop weighs 7 lb.

Software Compatibility

The laptop comes pre-loaded with Red Hat/Fedora Linux but on demand LinuxCertified can also install Debian or Linspire Laptop Edition, and there is an optional dual-boot install with Windows XP. My laptop came with Fedora Core 2 and later LinuxCertified sent me an upgraded laptop with Fedora Core 3 Test-3 on it. FC is working well on this laptop, however, in order to achieve this, LinuxCertified is using specially-compiled kernels, additional drivers and other patches. Among the patches/additions included are SoftwareSuspend, some acpi scripts, XBindKeys and Synaptics (touchpad driver for X11) and some multimedia packages.

I also took the liberty of installing other distros on the laptop, just to see how it would behave in a non-patched environment. Unfortunately, Ubuntu wouldn't work (Ubuntu-specific bug); the kernel loads just fine, but when it's time to get into the text-mode installer, all you get is a black screen. There's a chance that Debian-Sarge might have the same problem, as it uses the same installer as Ubuntu (however, LinuxCertified supports Debian, so they will certainly make sure that this is fixed by the time Sarge is ready).

Arch Linux 0.7pre+, on the other hand, worked perfectly and installed fine. Its recent XOrg selected the right resolution selected automatically, and 3D worked too with the games I tried: lthough the commercial demo of "Dark-Horizons: Lore" was not running at full speed, while simpler GL games, like GLTron, Neverball etc, ran fast enough. Running in the native 1400x1050 resolution with XOrg's r200 3D drivers (not ATi drivers), GLXGears did up to 1594 fps at 24bit color in X11, and 2212 fps while in 16bit. Sound and onboard networking also worked fine with no extra drivers needed (and slmodem and synaptics packages are part of /extra of Arch's tree anyway, so installing them was a piece of cake).

General Usage

The laptop is really a desktop replacement rather than an ultra-portable laptop. Its battery life with a stock kernel is about 1.5 hours. The laptop will automatically shut down if the battery goes below 10%, sometimes without a warning (which is actually a good thing, because users should never leave batteries drain below ~20%, as this damages all batteries in general).

The keyboard has an "ok" feel, but I had to get used to it a bit, as I was mostly used to my 12" Powerbook's soft keyboard touch. The biggest hurdle was to teach myself to press the right keys for Enter and Backspace, as my hands were used to find them at the right edge of the keyboard layout, while the LC2430 has the Home/End/PgUp/PgDown buttons instead on the rightmost part of the keyboard. A few days later and I was finding myself used to the new layout without a problem.

The laptop boots pretty fast and the hard drive performance is adequate, especially after adding some hdparm modifications in Arch. The screen is beautiful; its quality and viewing angle is better than my 12" Powerbook's (12" which has the same LCD model as the iBook family, which is not the same as the much-better 15/17" Powerbook LCD model).

LinuxCertified LC2430 laptop

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  1. "LC2430 Laptop Review, Page 1/2"
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