Linux on Laptops
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Last updated: 6 July 2006
Note that there are several versions of the nc8430, which differ in things such as clock speed, type of optical drive, etc. My configuration is Core Duo T2500, 1024MB, 80GB, DVD+-RW.
Note that I haven't had this machine long, and I haven't put too much effort into some of the features listed below; I'm not interested in smart cards, for example. I'm too busy to do major investigations, but reasonable requests for info or simple tests will be heeded.
Status under Linux
|Intel Core Duo T2500 Processor, 2.0 GHz||Works||Both CPU cores recognised; SMP Linux installed automatically|
|15.4" 1680 x 1050 TFT active matrix display||Works||See next item|
|ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 Video (256MB)||Works||With driver from ATI. OpenGL doesn't work - can't see how to enable it?|
|1GB DDRII SDRAM||Works||(Full memory reported by KInfoCentre)|
|80GB Serial ATA-150 Hard Drive||Not tried||Swapped out before Linux installation for...|
|Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB 7200RPM Serial ATA-150 Hard Drive||Works||No issues|
|Broadcom BCM5753 Gigabit Ethernet||Works||No issues|
|Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG WiFi||Works||After manual installation of package "ipw3945d" and reboot|
|Internal 56k Modem||Not detected||No surprise!|
|FireWire||Not detected?||I have nothing to try this with|
|Bluetooth||Works||Straight from the box! (Sent a file to the phone using KBluetooth)|
|DVDRW (+R double layer) Drive||Works||Reads OK; CD ripping OK; DVD-R written and read OK|
|4800 mAh Lithium-Ion Battery||Works||No issues|
|AD1981HD Sound Card (SB-compatible)||Partial||Works to headphone out only. Mute LED stays on. snd_hda_intel is loaded.|
|Integrated microphone||Works||Enable "capture" in KMix (not the mic inputs); the mixer settings seem a bit mixed up.|
|Integrated speakers||See Sound Card|
|Headphone out||Works||No issues|
|SD Card reader||Doesn't work with my SD card||More info|
|Smart Card reader||Not recognised|
|Touchpad||Works||All 3 buttons OK|
|Pointing stick||Works||All 3 buttons OK|
|UK keyboard||Works||Pound, dollar, Euro, all OK|
|ACPI Power Management||Largely works||
|USB||Works||Flash stick recognised and opened on insert; USB disks OK.|
This laptop is operating under Kernel version 188.8.131.52-4-smp.
Note that this machine is certified as Linux-compatible by Novell, against Novell Linux Desktop 9 for x86, Powered by SUSE LINUX, and with some caveats.
It's nice! This is my first HP, and so far I'm impressed. It's nicely slim and light (compared to my "old" 15.4" Toshiba A75), and the 1680x1050 display is fantastic!
Minor negatives: the keys are a little more stiff than I'm used to, but I guess I'll get used to it. The USB slots are on the sides, and closer to the front than I'd like; for example, with a wireless mouse, the tranceiver will be slightly in the way, whereas plugged into the back it would be less obtrusive. Likewise the headphone jack is right at the front on the right; you need a right-angle plug to avoid getting in the way of the mouse, and then the wire trails in front of the DVD drive drawer. Slightly annoying.
Overall, it's great, though. I like the hardware WiFi switch; the screen is great; and performance is excellent. (See below for more on performance.)
I've been a SUSE user for a long time; their stuff always seemed good and well-packaged, with good admin tools. I'm not sure their web support has prospered under Novell, but 10.1 (which I've been using for a while) looks pretty good. So, I'm sticking with SUSE 10.1 on the new machine, which is to replace my failed Toshiba (bad power connector, re-soldered several times, finally failed completely). I use a boxed distribution for convenience.
I decided from the beginning to swap out the hard drive for a slightly larger, and faster, one. Given this, the setup procedure I used was fairly involved:
and that was about it. I've noted elsewhere the adjustments I had to make after the install; basically installing a package for the WiFi and the ATI graphics driver.
I initially got graphics working by setting the following parameters in the install:
but this only gave me 800x600 resolution. After the installation, I installed the driver from ATI, and got the full resolution working. There's a page by Toni with a link to the driver and some more info. Note that this was all before I got the software update run (see "SUSE Issues"); you may want to see how you get on with the update before doing this.
I get the impression that the HP is faster than my old Toshiba, despite having a 2GHz CPU vs. 3.2GHz. (Sorry, no scientific benchmarks here, the Tosh is totally fried.) This is not down to the dual CPUs; in single-threaded tasks like fractal generation and mp3 encoding it seems to fly. I guess the Tosh had a good CPU but lousy support hardware - certainly lousy graphics hardware, the HP is way faster for Windoze games. Speaking of which, I'm seeing 20-25 FPS in Oblivion, playing in 1280x800 (ambitious, the setup recommented 1024x768) with grass off. This isn't like an ultra gaming machine, but the result is pretty smooth to my eye, and the picture quality is superb.
To be more scientific, here are the results of a benchmarking run. This data was produced under Linux using UnixBench 4.1.0, downloaded from the Linux Benchmarking Project. The index group of tests was used (the command was "./Run index").
|Dhrystone 2 using register variables||443.9|
|File Copy 1024 bufsize 2000 maxblocks||623.7|
|File Copy 256 bufsize 500 maxblocks||469.4|
|File Copy 4096 bufsize 8000 maxblocks||1006.3|
|Shell Scripts (8 concurrent)||836.2|
|System Call Overhead||299.9|
Note that the benchmark isn't multi-CPU aware, and was run as a single copy, so these results don't accurately reflect the machine's capabilities. However, running the Dhrystone test manually, two copies ran about as fast as one.
|Cheap Laptop||Rugged Laptop Case||Gaming Laptop||Lenovo Linux Laptop|
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