Another Blog

Mostly about computers, generally Linux-related

Rise of Cormyr (Not Without Its Problems)

I long kept silent, but not because life has been uneventful. A few separate posts will describe the past events, because I don’t like long reads.

I bought a laptop, a Dell Inspiron 1520, whose exact specs I am too lazy to post. It’s a Core 2 Duo at 2.2 GHz, 2 GiB of RAM and 120 GB hard drive. It’s quite similar to my desktop machine in this respect. Choosing a name was a bit difficult, and I eventually came up with Cormyr, just because I like how that sounds. Explaining to people why I called it that and what it originally is has led to many weird looks, but that I expected. What I did not expect is everything else.

I installed Windows XP on cormyr, which worked wonders. Half a day of installing drivers and everything was… well… Windows. After a largely uneventful Gentoo install, I realised that Windows had pretty much locked itself out of the bootloader: it had created a very strange partitioning scheme (on a nearly pristine drive at that time, so no whining about fdisk having done it). Cue reinstall, with Gentoo being the first OS I installed, along with a hopefully sane partition scheme. It was then that I also decided to drop the Dell Media Direct partition, which wasn’t working properly.

Gentoo was again fun, with ACPI tricks from both the official website and the Gentoo Wiki, and a short Haskell program I wrote to feed sensors and battery data into dzen2, for use with xmonad. The widescreen is really a pleasure when coding, along with xmonad’s ThreeCol layout. But horrors — between my being a newbie and incomplete support for my wireless card, I couldn’t get wireless to work (more on that in the next post). I tried without any success for almost a week, then decided to install XP beside Gentoo; surprise, the machine won’t boot off the XP CD.

With great angst I reached for Vista, which not only works pretty fine for a Windows (but is completely retarded UI-wise), but also saw almost all my hardware properly. This time around, driver installation took less than an hour and I could finally have my wireless. I am typing this on Cormyr, while in bed.

Bottom line, if anyone is looking for an opinion on Dell, I say go for it! Most of the problems I had were software related. The build is strong, both on the outside and intimately. Though a bit on the heavy side, the looks are to my liking: not exotic, but finely cut. The keyboard is absolutely awesome, and I’ve even learnt how to use a touchpad; I rarely connect the mouse.

A special praise to the 9-cell battery: although I first thought the thing sticking out the back of my laptop was hideous, it’s truly a blessing. After two hours of light Java coding this morning, statistics under Gentoo (a minimal build, I admit), showed 67% of the battery. The same stats go as high as 7 hours with a full battery, and compiling TeTeX and dependencies left the battery a whopping 80% full.

Bottom line, I’m happy with cormyr, a bit frustrated with Linux for not having drivers for my wireless card, but Vista usually means wireless, which means SSH into a Linux shell if need be.

Note: I realise this is not a comprehensive review, nor is it intended to be.

March 14, 2008 Posted by | linux, personal, vista | Leave a comment