[sf-lug] laptop thoughts...

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Dec 13 12:14:24 PST 2007

Quoting Mark K. Zanfardino (mark at zanfardinoconsulting.com):

> Now, I can only speak from personal experience, which to date is limited
> to just a few laptops including my newly acquired several-year-old T40
> equipped with the Pentium Centrino M processor (1.6GHz), 512MB RAM,
> 14.1" display with integrated Intel video and wifi (full specs at
> http://reviews.cnet.com/laptops/thinkpad-t40/4507-3121_7-20947059.html). 
> I bought this from my wife's company (it was her laptop until they
> upgraded her) for a mere $140.

Heck of a deal, and I'd go for that unit at that price, like a shot.
Among the reasons I'd prefer it is (1) it's several years old, and thus
there's been time to reverse-engineer the more problematic components,
and (2) unlike its sister unit the T40p (which had fanicier ATI Mobility
FireGL 9000 video), it has the cheaper intergrated Intel video.  (The
ThinkWiki site claims the T40 had either ATI's Radeon 7500 or 9000, but
I think this is mistaken.)

Laptop video is one of the places where it often pays to be careful to 
stick to the cheaper, less-fancy option, simply because Intel has been
cooperative with open-source coders in that area, while ATI and Nvidia 
have not.  (The situation at ATI is changing, but effects have not yet 
propagated to distros.)

> I should also say that I recently bought a Lenora R61 for my wife with
> the 14.4" (wide screen) with Intel Core-2 Duo (2.4 GHz), 2GB RAM and
> integrated Intel video and wifi.  It came preloaded with Vista, which I
> promptly removed and installed (at my wife's request) Windows XP as well
> as Kubuntu Feisty.  I haven't done much with the Feisty, but I'm
> planning to upgrade it to Gutsy and see if I can't get her to use it
> instead of the XP.

As you probably know, the R series is the cheaper and slightly lighter
companion to the T series, and the R61 thus is Lenovo's current lead
laptop in the "R" line, alongside the T61.  

My hardware evaluation work on the T61 showed driver problems typical of
brand-new laptops:  It has a brand-new e1000-compatible gigabit ethernet
chip, as yet unknown to almost all Linux distributions.  The motherboard
has yet another cutting-edge southbridge chip, and thus few distros'
SATA drivers yet support its mass storage.

As usual for newly released laptops, you're basically screwed trying to
get software suspend to work (though the TuxOnIce, formerly suspend2 aka
swsusp2, patches are probably your best bet).  And so on.

Attentive readers will spot a running theme:  Older laptops (1-2 years
old) are less problematic.  Thus, Mark, I commend you on your wise
choice of the T40, which I think will serve you very well.

Cheers,                                     Ceci n'est pas une pipe:   |
Rick Moen
rick at linuxmafia.com 

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