Once again I have two laptops, both Dells. My main system is a Vostro 1500 that sees daily use and a lot of miles, and an Inspiron B130 that was previously my daily system, but now is the computer that I keep in the living room to surf while I’m watching TV. As part of regular system maintenance I was going to un/reinstall the operating system, and having a great experience with Ubuntu a couple of years ago, I decided to try again. Last night I cleaned the hard drive and installed Ubuntu 8.04 on it. Once again, I’m really impressed with this operating system. I’ll start with the hardware details then give a play-by-play.
- Dell Inspiron B130
- Celeron M processor
- Integrated video processor
- 2GB RAM
- 60GB hard drive
- 15.4″ display (1280×800)
- CD/DVD writer
- Dell 1370 wireless adapter
The install process was smooth and painless, nothing to note there. Once Ubuntu was installed and running I connected it to my router so it could get the updates. That took about two and a half hours to complete, but it didn’t require any attention from me so I watched TV and worked on a web project and just let it run.
Once the update was complete I rebooted. When it started again it picked up the wireless adapter and recommended a driver. Once again, no interaction required, just let it do its thing. One more reboot and wifi was working. Screen resolution was determined and set during the install process, its been running at 1280×800 since I completed the install. At that point I started grabbing the software that I want through Synaptic, and the system was ready to use.
It took about four hours start to finish. The function keys (screen brightness, volume control, CRT/LCD, etc) all work as advertised. The touchpad works flawlessly, including tap to select and drag up/down, left/right to scroll when appropriate. Battery indicator seems to work properly.
I’ll probably be using this system more now. Its actually quite a bit faster than my Vostro with a dual core processor, 256MB video card and 4GB RAM. Take that Window XP. That’s a pretty good argument for ditching Windows.
One other comment, Dvorak on this system is awesome. On Windows, you log in using QWERTY and once the desktop loads the keyboard switches over to Dvorak. I’ve always thought that was kind of lame. With Ubuntu, if you select Dvorak the system is Dvorak, period. That’s pretty awesome.
I don’t mean to sound like a fanboy, there are still shortcomings, primarily in hardware compatibility. I’m not quite brave enough to try connecting it with my HP wifi printer or Western Digital NetCenter (NAS drive) just yet, maybe next weekend. Linux does a lot of things right though, and it is continually moved forward by a team of committed developers. You gotta respect that.
For the record, I still want a Mac. Macs are $2,000 though, and this old system is rockin fast and cost me exactly zilch. Its not brushed aluminum, but if it really starts to bug me I’ll spray paint it. Ha!