Of course I love working on my dualcore workstation, crammed with 4 gigs of RAM and a rocket fast SATA Raid 0+1 mass storage. I really don’t complain. But the notebook I used on the road and on-site at customers had seen better days. So some weeks ago my employer agreed to buy me a new notebook. To make things short – I ordered the HP Compaq 6715b. It has a 1680×1050 screen resolution, a decent amount of RAM and an AMD X2 Turion Dualcore. The harddisk is quite okay, 250 GB SATA at 5400 RPM. I had to get rid of Windows Vista, so I took my freshly burned Debian Lenny weekly build CD and installed it. Lenny offers a pretty nice working environment. I didn’t use all the space availible, there has always to be playground for testing purposes. I already thought of installing OpenBSD and FreeBSD on the remaing space.
So what is working and what is not? What were the pitfalls in the installation procedure?
I was keen on changing the internal BCM 4312 802.11a/b/g Mini-PCIe WLAN device to something more functional. So I ordered from our wholesale dealer a Gigabyte AirCruiser G Mini-PCIe card with an Atheros chipset additional reading. But when I rebooted my computer I was suprised by the dreaded “104-unsupported wireless network device detected” message. It is possible to modify the bios and to insert some hex code to make it work, but I had better things to do. So now I am using the built in card via ndiswrapper and when I need more functionality I simply plug in an (Atheros) Orinoco Gold PCMCIA adapter. The fingerprint reader works fine, I tested it though I don’t need it.
The release of FreeBSD 7.0 two weeks ago was just in time, I fetched the install images and went through the install procedure without any hassle. I haven’t installed the WLAN drivers yet, but the ndis tools are always red-hot in FreeBSD and so I expect it to function properly , too. In FreeBSD I use the radeonhd drivers, 2D desktop performace is fine. On FreeBSD 7.0 the sound is not working yet, but that’s for the time being fine.
Altogether I think this notebook is recommendable. Its performance is all right, the display is very nice and bright. The casing doesn’t get too warm and the battery lasts up to three hours.
If you need more information on notebooks running linux or unix, have a look at http://tuxmobil.org and don’t hesitate to submit your experience by yourself.