[thechat] laptops for linux

Ian Anderson ian at zstudio.co.uk
Mon Nov 7 18:50:19 CST 2005

Judah McAuley wrote:

> Anyone have good/bad experiences to share? Things I should watch out
>  for? I know some folks really like IBM's laptops for linux use. I've
> had several Dell desktop machines, but haven't had a laptop from
> them.

Had a 1GHz Dell Inspiron 8100 for about four years, using it as my 
primary machine for three of them, and been very happy with it overall. 
Not nearly as well built as the desktops; I think the laptops are made 
by a partner company.

It is now in semi-retirement, but still perfectly usable for Photoshop, 
Dreamweaver, SQL server and so on. Excellent value and good ergonomics.

1. Keyboard lettering is stenciled on and wears off with heavy use. Had 
a new keyboard after three years under warranty owing to a hardware fault.
2. Tends to hang occasionally when waking from sleep. This has never 
bothered me enough to troubleshoot, and may well be an isolated thing 
specific to mine.
3. Very heavy and a pain to carry around - mine has the 1450x1024 15" 
screen, which adds to the weight. Despite this, I would recommend going 
for resolution greater than 1024.
4. Very poor battery life, again largely because of the display. You 
need to travel with an adapter.
5. After three years, the inside left side bezel of the display cracked. 
I think this is a design fault. No adverse effect on the display, but 
I'm kind of careful opening it!
6. After three and a half years, the Dell-supplied 802 11b PC card 
adapter failed, so it's now on wired Ethernet. The Ethernet port is on 
the right hand side which is a pain as the cable gets in the way of the 
mouse. This is also the case with the modem and Firewire ports.

One of the main reasons for buying it was the full-size keyboard, which 
has a slightly dead feel and short travel, but suits me very well. Much 
better keyboard than Apple laptops; Apple put the keys very close 
together and the layout is poor.

I would buy another Dell laptop in preference to other brands, but if 
commuting on public transport rather than a car, I would consider the 
smaller, lightweight ones in preference to the "desktop replacement" ones.

Definitely get the three year onsite warranty; in the UK the service 
response has been excellent on the two occasions I have had cause to 
need them.



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