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

Oh, the irony…

A new high has been reached in Vista idiocy. After a 4 minute phone call which *I* will pay for (800 number won’t work), I finally re-activated my copy. I had upgraded the BIOS, which made Vista all jumpy about my switching processors (which I didn’t).

But the real reason I am posting is that out of the sudden, I don’t remember when, Explorer stopped allowing me to select multiple files. This persisted until today, when I finally got fed up. Microshaft has a solution [1], but (hold on) /it doesn’t work/!! Honestly, imagine my utter frustration. I even used two exclamation marks at the end of the previous sentence. Apparently (quoting from [1]), “This problem occurs because certain applications add a key to the registry. The key prevents you from selecting multiple items in Windows Explorer.” Way to go — notice no mention that these programs are in any way malicious (and I am sure they are not); thus, Microsoft screwed up again, and in such a dumb way they did.

A little more surfing around took me to [2], which has a link to [3]. A Visual Basic script (ugh) that automatically deletes the register keys. Probably the best use I have ever seen for Visual Basic.

Overall, the problem is probably not hard to fix, but it does make me wonder how anyone could screw up so bad. This post somewhat contradicts my policy not to blindly bash Microsoft, but I think I actually had a reason this time. I’ll give you this, though, the graphical interface is slick, but not distracting (I found Beryl terribly unproductive).


August 20, 2007 Posted by | vista | Leave a comment

Yes, it can get even more retarded

So I bought a new computer, installed Vista (legally) on in, and, after a few days of playing games, I decided to go back to Gentoo. Install went fine mostly, but then I got to the real creamy part about dual-booting Linux and Windows Vista.

Much to my surprise, and yours I am sure, M$ found yet another way of being retarded about OS design. Vista installs its bootloader *on a separate partition*, without letting you know. So, when I configured grub to boot vista off the partition I had installed it to, it was a no-go. A little googling around sorted the problem, but still… this makes you wonder, what’ll they think of next? And what’s more: is this on purpose or is someone really stupid enough to forget to specifically notify people of the change? I bet it’s the former.

Don’t get me wrong, I usually set up a separate /boot parition, but Windows Vista used the other NTFS partition, which I had created for storage. I am now seriously thinking of switching the vista bootloader to the partition on which the OS is installed, to be rid of this irregularity.

July 6, 2007 Posted by | linux, vista | 4 Comments