Not long ago, I had to buy my first laptop, and after spending lots of time thinking about the right decision, I made the wrong one.
Finally, I went to the shop and made the decision based on:
-(screen size + memory + hardware performance + warranty) / price;
-looking capable to run Linux;
-having AMD/ATI graphics, as these guys sponsor free video driver development.
The though point:
1.The recovery DVD from Asus.
Later after buying the laptop I erased the vfat recovery partion and made the C: smaller. This was a mistake, as now Windows is not booting anymore (I only found out today). I can imagine some reasons, but from the point of view of the stupid user, this is a Microsoft screw-up. If the Windows partition is bootable by itself, why does it need to find information about anything else?. This was a strong point of other Windows versions: just select the partition, and bang, it works. As somewhat experienced luser, I am able to repair a Linux boot, which used to be somewhat hard, but I have no idea how to repair the Windows one.
With the laptop I also received a recovery DVD. I ran it thinking that in 2 minutes I will have Windows repaired with no other complications. Here comes the big blow: „All the data on your partition(s) will be deleted. Asus shall not be held liable…”. This text was written on the _second_ paragraph of some long enough message. My mouse left button was already pressing the „Next” button, waiting for the release that would go to the next step. Only some masochistist curiosity for reading long messages made me skim through the text that predicted havoc.
Thank you Asus for such a lovely experience.
1. Beginning, partitioning and Vista from Asus.
I knew that the laptop comes only with 32 bit Windows Vista, I tried not to pay for the OS, but I did not manage to do that, I’m too lazy to ask for a OS refund, I might try a refund for the entire laptop though, and you’ll se why.
The first surprise was partitioning, 20 GiB vfat partition for recovery, around 120 GiB C: with Vista. This only left me around 90 GiB for other stuff. What was worse, is that the Debian installer was not able to resize the oversize C:, so I had to accept the situation and go with small Linux partition for my data. This will come and punish me in part 3.
The other thing is that the OS was configured such that the Antivirus + Security Manager (Symantec crap I think) was always asking me to register, had an unkillable window and kept asked things I found difficult to answer. There where also other programs that started with the computer and made the disk seek like mad and keep the computer slow for minutes after startup. Also, I think was not entirely Asus’s fault, as the OS was also doing huge unknown jobs on its own.
The good thing is that the OS came with disk burning software preinstalled.
2. Linux support.
2.1)Video. „This comes with modern discrete ATI graphics card, Radeonhd will sure do.” False. Radeonhd does not work on my laptop at the moment. Radeonhd is the only driver that does not work.
Fglrx makes 2D feel slow, takes ages to start Xorg, and hard crashes the computer at each logout. Only the open source ATI (2D only) driver works fine.
The Debian installer left me with the vesa driver, that only gave me small resolutions, anything better was on my own. It was good though, as X worked from the beginning, unlike other installs. So I had to do xorg.conf configuration by myself until I got the right results.
At the moment Nvidia is a dream for me. I don’t know what they do, but their shit works.
2.2)Wi-Fi. „Linux is the Chuch Norris of Wi-Fi.” False. I had to do good googling to find out that I need to install (from the repository, fortunately) some firmware. Also worth bo be said, NetworkManager seems to take longer than Vista to connect to wireless networks and it does always simply work. There are two graphical interfaces to NM: KNetworkManager that is not always working correctly; nm-applet, which works correctly, but looks like shit and does give me enough control. NM is strange anyway.
2.3)Sound. „Everyone does sound.” False. a)The internal speakers do not mute when inserting headsets. b)I had to trial and error flip the switches in the ALSA control panel until I got working microphone. c)Not all programs are able to access the microphone as they should. Some get the full volume, others only inaudible volumes, no matter what I do. Skype seems to be the only that will get good quality sound, for reasond I don’t know.
2.4)Suspend to ram. „That’s a done deal, long ago.” False. Does not work, I can’t say why, but at wake-up it used to reboot, after some update it goes to a hard crash.
Included camera. Not very important, but that is not working with most programs either.
Blutetooth. I was not able to get that working. I would have a use for it, but not important now., and I didn’t even know the laptop was capable when I bought it, so this is only and unreachable bonus.