[H-GEN] Looking for a linux laptop

David Seikel onefang at gmail.com
Mon May 25 20:44:30 EDT 2009

On Tue, 26 May 2009 09:53:50 +1000 Russell Stuart
<russell-humbug at stuart.id.au> wrote:

> [ Humbug *General* list - semi-serious discussions about Humbug
> and     ] [ Unix-related topics. Posts from non-subscribed addresses
> will vanish. ]
> On Mon, 2009-05-25 at 21:07 +1000, David Seikel wrote:
> > I might be going on a business trip soon, and will need a laptop.
> > Pretty much just need something roughly the equivalent of my current
> > desktop, which is a few years old.  I don''t want to spend a
> > fortune, with the sort of specs I need, something cheap will
> > probably work.
> 2.  Armed with the Dell quote go looking at other sites and/or 
>     brands.  Be sure to verify what is on the Dell quote matches
>     what you are being sold.  Eg MIMO Wifi antenna?  Firewire?
>     9 cell battery?  5400 RPM Drive?  1 year warranty?  Accidental
>     damage insurance?  The important point is to compare like with
>     like.

That still leaves me wading through a large pile of specs.  lol

Far to many people that I know and trust with such things have had bad
experiences with Dells, so that's the only brand I would tend to shy
away from.

> Interestingly you didn't list the two most important aspects of
> a laptop in your criteria.  They are screen size and battery
> life.

If you had seen the microscopic font I use, you would know that screen
size is not important to me.  I did say that it's essentially a desktop
replacement, though no doubt using it on those 20+ hour international
flights would be a bonus and stop me from getting too bored.

On the other hand, while I am known for lugging a tower server to
HUMBUG meetings (plus all the HUMBUG equipment during my exec tenure)
on my back, while walking barefoot for tours, you can probably guess
that size and weight are also of little importance.  I'm not an
experienced road warrior though.  What is the typical battery usage
when travelling around the world for a month and using 'net cafés and

> If the thing is mostly tethered to a desk you want a large screen, 
> and don't care about the battery.  The interesting side effect of 
> this is since the battery life doesn't matter the engineer who 
> designed it will have a large power budget.  This makes the thing 
> dammed fast compared to its smaller brethren - regardless of what 
> the specs might say.

For compiling it becomes even more interesting.  A faster computer
would compile quicker.  Though the faster computer might use up more
actual energy per compile.  The really useful measurement there I guess
would be number of kernel compiles per battery charge.

Second Life just abuses the CPU, 3D hardware, and RAM as much as
possible, even if you are sitting still doing nothing.  Speed on my
current desktop is acceptable for that app.  I'll use SL for hours on
end, so any system that clocks down CPU speed and turns off unused
hardware to extract more battery life might not help.

> You also didn't mention the CPU being able to do hardware
> vitalisation.  Intel's cheaper CPU's can't.  I regard it as a
> must now.  It has got me out of trouble on numerous occasions.

That's something I don't use.  Second Life is the important app, and
it's a memory hog.  1 GB lets me run one instance of it for a long
time.  Though the most recent version of it, and / or the X that comes
with Ubuntu 9.04, seems to leak memory faster, meaning 1 GB only lasts
for 3 or 4 hours of Second Life use.  Without SL running, something
else is causing X to leak slowly, seeing about 20 MB leak if left
running over night.  I'm still investigating that.

> Finally, as for 32 applications running on a 64 bit machine -
> I have not found one I have not been able to make work.  Any
> Debian based 64-bit distribution comes with a full complement 
> of 32 libraries which "just work", once you know to install
> them.  Even if they didn't, just copying a missing 32 bit 
> library and putting it on the LD_LIBRARY_PATH also works.  On
> the other hand, I am not sure why you would want to use 64
> bit on a machine with 3G of memory or less.

I mentioned 64 bits, since I'm not sure about what percentage of
systems sold these days are just 64 bits without saying so.  lol
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