[CentOS] Laptop for CentOS-5

Fri Jan 8 20:16:59 UTC 2010
ken <gebser at mousecar.com>

On 01/07/2010 02:14 PM Robert Heller wrote:
> At Thu, 7 Jan 2010 13:37:46 -0500 (EST) CentOS mailing list <centos at centos.org> wrote:
>> I have a defective HP-Compaq nx9420 and so I am looking to replace
>> it.  I have pretty much decided to buy no further MicroSoft based
>> products and would very much like to hear recommendations for a
>> suitable notebook host to provide me with Linux based alternative.

Sorry about the dead HP, but congratulation on being able to dump
Microsoft.  I've always kept it on mine (doing a dual-boot) just because
when I have a hardware problem and have to call up tech support, they
want me to run MS stuff for testing and if I only have Linux, they say
they "don't support Linux" and so I then own the hardware problem.

>> Given that all the basic functionality required is provided, the
>> main thing that I am looking for is reliability of the host itself. 
>> I do a deal of traveling so physical robustness is an issue.  But I
>> also use my notebook for hours at a time, generally every day. This
>> means that I am typically on a/c current rather than batteries and
>> that power regulation and heat dissipation are also concerns.  The
>> power regulator circuit is in fact what I believe has failed on the
>> nx9420.

I currently have 21 days uptime on my notebook, a four-plus-year-old
Dell Inspiron 600m.  I've often had more than double that uptime.  I
bought it with a half gig video RAM (not shared), a half gig of system
RAM, and a 60M HD, the latter two of which I upgraded to 2G RAM and 320G HD.

It's solid.  Yes, I've had about one hardware problem a year, but got an
extended warranty, so I just call up their tech support, walk through
the problem with them (they've always been reasonable or better than
reasonable), and someone comes to the house, generally the next day and
fixes it in a half hour.

At the end of the fourth year the extended warranty could no longer be
renewed.  I called them up again because, with all the typing I do, I
wore the letters of several of the keys.  Other than that, the keyboard
was fine.  But they replaced it.  In fact, with some confusion over
whether I was going to replace it myself of someone else was to come
out, I wound up with a spare new keyboard.  Similarly, the touchpad was
worn down.  They replaced that too.  The hardware tech also wanted to
give me a new screen, but I told him-- at least twice-- that, no, I
really didn't need it.  The CD/DVD R/W was questionable, so they
replaced that too.  While the tech was here, I had him take out and blow
out the fan (which was really clogged up).  With the RAM and HD upgrades
I did myself, I pretty much have a new machine.  I had one other Dell
laptop before this, corporate supplied, and I was happy with that one too.

This 600m is cool because it has a swappable bay.  That is, I press a
button on the side and the CD/DVD drive slides out and I can put a
second battery or a floppy drive in its place.  With the second battery
in it, I've run this machine for more than seven (7) hours unplugged.

The Intel wireless (b/g) has always worked fine.  The only headache
there was getting it correctly right on Linux initially.  No problems at
all attributable to hardware.

>> Not infrequently I have the notebook on my chest or lap while
>> working at home.  So the ventilation clearances provided by a flat
>> desk support are frequently absent and the notebook design must
>> accommodate this.

This Dell sort of has the same issue.  I fixed this by spending $3 on a
TV tray a little wider than the laptop, big enough so that the DVD tray
can pop out enough to insert/remove the disks, but with lips low enough
lips to not get in the way of plugging in USB sticks and other stuff.
The little bit of extra space is a handy place for pens and pencils and
sharpies, scraps of paper and USB sticks.

>> I would like to use CentOs as this is what I am most familiar with. 
>> But, I am open to CentOS alternatives like Ubuntu or even a
>> non-Linux alternative like a PowerMac with OS-X.

I ran opensuse for the first four years on this machine, then switched
over to centos.  Way too many folks on the opensuse lists with severe
ego/attitude problems.  Ubuntu isn't on my OS horizon simply because I
don't want to type "sudo" fifty or a hundred times a day.  And I prefer
rpm/yum to other package management systems.  It's what my job calls for
and I don't have a choice in that.

The (relatively) old programming maxim, "Fast, good, cheap... pick two,"
generally applies to buying a laptop too.

Hope you find something which works well for you.

>> ....
>> So, my desires are:
>> WANT:
>> Robust construction
>> Reliable quality
>> Reasonable weight (< 2.5 kg all in)
>> Supported sound and video reproduction of reasonable quality
>> 15-17" lcd screen
>> Out-of-the-box support for wireless networking
>> Battery life > 2.0 hrs.
>> Not MS-Windows
> I have an (old) IBM Thinkpad X25 and it works great (yes, it is older).
> Unless you buy a used laptop, you will pay the Microsoft Tax.  It is almost
> impossible to buy a *new* laptop with anything other than MS-Windows
> pre-installed (unless you buy a MacBook).
>> 64 bit
>> core duo 2
>> 2-4+ Gb RAM
>> 120+ Gb HDD
>> writable multi-mode DVD/CD drive
>> CentOS-5+
> OK, my IBM Thinkpad X25 has a 1.4ghz P4 (32-bit), will support up to
> 1gig of RAM, as big an *IDE* hard drive (I believe 160gig drives are
> available), but has no DVD/CD drive (I have a 40gig drive in it
> presently). I'm presently running CentOS 4.8, but plan on upgrading to
> CentOS 5.4 soon.
> Note: "64 bit, core duo 2, 2-4+ Gb RAM, and writable multi-mode DVD/CD
> drive" are somewhat counter indicated with "Reasonable weight (< 2.5 kg
> all in), Battery life > 2.0 hrs.".  You will need to make a trade off
> here (i.e. the extra 'goodies' will mean more weight and/or less battery
> life). 
> Another note: unless you are doing something like SETI at Home, you *don't
> really need* a multi-core processor.  99% of desktop applications are
> single threaded (and there is no point in multi-threading them).  Only
> Firefox is 'multi-threaded', but the extra threads are all I/O bound
> most of the time (mostly downloading content, which is bad news on a
> dialup connection...[wishing a single-threaded version of Firefox
> existed]).  (Multi-core processors draw more power than a single core
> processor and need more cooling...)
>> Your system suggestions, both for hardware and OS, are most welcome.