posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 6th Dec 2004 10:28 UTC
IconLinuxCertified.com offers a solution for the users who require ultimate mobility: the LC2100 laptop loaded with the Linux of your choice. For more info and screenshots/images, read more.

The laptop weighs only 4lbs (it's lighter than the 12" Apple Powerbook which weighs 4.6 lbs) making it an excellent mobile powerhouse. It is equipped with a Centrino CPU at 1.6 GHz with 2 MB of cache, making it a real speed demon. In fact, we were happy to see LinuxCertified.com including a speed stepping utility by default, where the CPU would vary from 600 Mhz to 1.6 GHz depending on how much CPU power it's needed at each given time. The machine crunched 325 fps on glxgears *without* 3D acceleration.

Other hardware characteristics include 512 MBs of RAM, an 855GME Intel graphics card (dynamic allocation of VRAM), 40 GB of hard drive, a combo drive, a 4-in-1 reader, a pcmcia port, on board modem and ethernet card, a firewire port, USB 2.0 ports and more. The screen is beautiful 12" wide-screen LCD, with a resolution of 1280x800. The screen has better angle/quality/brightness than my 12" Powerbook's. The machine also came with a mini-PCI wifi card, while it has the ability to expand itself with an optional Bluetooth module (picture one of the laptop, and picture two of the laptop and the powerbook next to each other).

The LC2100 arrived with Fedora Core 2 pre-installed. LinuxCertified told us that Fedora Core 3 will get pre-installed on the laptop later in 2005 after further testing will take place in their labs. The laptop came with preconfigured SoftwareSuspend2 (suspend to disk, via LinuxCertified's own kernel version). It takes about 25-30 seconds to wake up the laptop after suspension. Unfortunately, instant sleep/awake does not work. Regarding durability, the laptop's battery time with Linux is about ~3 hours.

Synaptics and XBindKeys, Java and Flash, Mplayer and XMMS mp3 capabilities are among the extra packages LinuxCertified is pre-installing to their laptops, so users don't have to do extra work on their FC installations.

Another great feature of this laptop is its dual function as a portable multimedia center/player: it comes with a Embedded Linux and PowerDVD. Instead of turning on the laptop using its power button, you press the little "P" button next to the power button and instead if loads in seconds Embedded Linux. Then, you insert a PhotoCD, a CD, a VCD or a DVD, and the embedded software can play those immediately, while you can always keep an eye to your battery level. And with the widescreen LCD, it makes the experience truly pleasant. Check the screenshots to see how this embedded environment looks like (screenshot three, screenshot four).

Now, two things that bothered me with the product, are both in the software side of things: No hardware Alsa mixing (so only one app at the time can use the sound), a problem that it has been discussed here. Apparently, the Alsa developers said that they need more programmers to join Alsa and implement software mixing on the Alsa side, transparently to the apps. Hopefully, someone will step in to help them.

The second problem is 3D support. The distro didn't come with 3D accelerated support, and an attempt to install a binary snapshot of the i915 2D/DRI/DRM modules from freedesktop.org failed with unresolved symbols (it seems that it required the latest version of Xorg to work). The problem will go away either when LinuxCertified starts selling the machine with FC3, or if they take the time to compile the newly introduced i915 module for FC2.

From the hardware side, I have absolutely no complaints. The laptop just works great, as expected, and as advertised. The keyboard feels good, the touchpad feels good, the peripherals worked fine. It's the Linux software that needs more maturity regarding laptops in general (e.g. better ACPI support, software mixing etc) and this is coming with Linux slowly but steady.

Overall, this laptop is a must-buy, especially if you are into the hunt of a very compatible, sexy, truly mobile Linux-compatible laptop. The LC2100 won't disappoint you.

Detailed hardware PCI configuration of the laptop:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Host Bridge (rev 02)
00:00.1 System peripheral: Intel Corp. 855GM/GME GMCH Memory I/O Control Registers (rev 02)
00:00.3 System peripheral: Intel Corp. 855GM/GME GMCH Configuration Process Registers (rev 02)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device (rev 02)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device (rev 02)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 03)00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 82801BAM/CAM PCI Bridge (rev 83)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corp. 82801DBM LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82801DBM (ICH4) Ultra ATA Storage Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corp. 82801DB/DBM (ICH4) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.6 Modem: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) AC'97 Modem Controller (rev 03)
01:03.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1410 PC card Cardbus Controller (rev 02)
01:07.0 Network controller: Intersil Corporation Intersil ISL3890 [Prism GT/Prism Duette] (rev 01)
01:0a.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB43AB22/A IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link)
01:0c.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)

Related reading: LinuxCertified LC2430 Laptop Review.

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