I have owned a few laptops in my life. The least troublesome being a PII Acer 166 MHz, although the screen hinges started cracking. It looked shit with glue and thin metal sheets around them, but it was a charm. My current Dell Inspiron 5100 is a dream, especially the sturdiness and the 1440×1050 15 inch screen, but I guess after 4 years of intense but loyal service, it’s getting old. I will buy a new one soon.

The one between those is a Fujitsu Siemens P650. Nice machine. I managed to get it on XP; it is a Win98 machine. It is intended for the kids to do browsing and basic work processing, but it has never been very stable since. I had to reinstall XP several times until after maybe a year I decided the kids would have to wait till I got enough from myDelly. It’s hard t part though from old loyal friends.

So tonight, reading about the latest Ubuntu Linux, I decided to give the Fujitsu a second chance. Delly downloaded the iso file and burned it to a standard CD. Now you have to know I have basic knowledge about Linux, but I really wanted to make this a no brainer machine, Linux biggest flaw, and Ubuntu is said to be just that. As long as it would be stable, run Firefox and OpenOffice.org, this beast would be my friend. This document is going to be my experience report.

  • 9:13:PM I booted the little rat
  • 9:25 PM Tataa music (try to boot XP from a CD). The screen looks clean and tranquil. Promising so far.
  • 9:36 PM A gnome error message pops up. I am playing dummy and try to click Close, the only choice. The system is still VERY busy, esp the CD drive. The mouse doen’t even move. Hmpf, but it is still boot-from-CD. I am determined to at least get through till it boots from hard-disk to get to e remotely fair comparision.
  • 10:28 PM Screen goesto background color only.
  • 10:35 PM Screen goes black. It’s still plowing on the CD.
  • 10:47 PM Uh oh, it’s rebooting
  • 10:48 PM error message on X server, do I want to like to see the server output to diagnose? Erm, yes. Nu useful info. It’s stuck.

I am giving up for the day. Sign. Maybe it’s the hardware after all.

*** Next day ***

As it MIGHT be a hardware problem, I decided to swap my Delly’s hard disk and give that one a go. EASY!!! The thing booted from CD in less than 4 minutes to a working state. I played Solitaire for 5 minutes to see if the User Interface was feeling “normal”. Then I hit “Install”. It took 4 minutes to answer a few questions and then another 17 minutes to completely install and do a few automatic downloads. This was all done without any user intervention. The machine rebooted and voila. It already came with OpenOffice.org 2.2, FireFox, runs VNC and RDP clients etc. I installed Skype (a breeze, although a 1.x Debian non-video version) and flash (required some terminal typing) to run YouTube. After some fiddling I managed to get my internet radio stations running. That required some plugins that were not automatically installed by the player; the movie player could though. Printer installation was a breeze too; it even recognized my USB connected color printer, while it was off!

The User Interface is calm and professional. Performace seems comparable. To make this work for me there is one hurdle to take, and that is a Lotus Notes client, as that is my professional thing. Ubuntu is not supported, so maybe it works, maybe it won’t. More about that later.

Added:  It seems Dell will start shipping Ubuntu as an alternative soon. Too bad I justordered my new (Deel) laptop, but still: good for them! (Thanks BoingBoing)