My old Sony *) laptop got retired last week since it was way to noisy and was doing my head in, so after a lot of looking around I got a Dell **). The Sony is a great laptop and still work just fine, nice an fast for what I need. The 4-5 trips to the doctor’s a few years ago took its told on the fan and how hot it runs the closest thing to describe it is a hair dryer just on normal use.

It was a bit hard waiting for the delivery of my new toy, we are getting so used to getting online purchase the next day or at least 48 hours later. But Dell had to my new toy build in China, since I wanted something that wasn’t directly of the peg. And then there was the annoyance of the online tracking tool, what every Dell told the shipping company, the shipping company didn’t understand. So I couldn’t track my toy as it made its way to me. Though after some searching I found out that if you modified the tracking code a little you could get it to work. Why Dell aren’t working on on fixing this I do not know, since it seemed a problem that have been around for a while.

Anywho a week later it arrived and looked very nice and still does, I plugged it in and pressed the on button and then the wait started. Since Dell had installed windows 7 on it, the laptop had to go through all the setting up for the first time use. Yes I know that there is a company here in the UK that sells laptops without OS’s so you can pick you own flavor but not the spec’s I would like. And Dell does sell ubuntu flavored ones too but again not the spec’s I would like for my new toy.

So I waited around two minutes looking at a nice animation my my very new shiny and sharp screen before windows told me that it was rebooting. It turned on and I waited again for around a minute and bit more before windows asked for my WiFi details, very easy to do. Then some more waiting before I could use the laptop for the first time. Which was simple to open up IE and type http://www.mozilla-europe.org/en/firefox/ and download the newest version of FF. Total time from first press to be able to use a browser just shy of 10 minutes.

Then I tried to log off and reboot as I was interested in how fast it would be booting up without setting up time. Logging out took forever and a day, who knows what windows was doing. One missing thing on this laptop, a small LED telling me that the hard disk is running. While I waited the 2 minutes it took to boot the second time, I started to think this wasn’t too bad since I didn’t get nagged by various programs that Dell had decided for me would be a great idea to have. Guess what I was greeted with upon the second boot up … McAafe Antivirus installer.

So I started the normal clean up, that you do when getting a new laptop, I had this on my Sony and any other laptop I have had my fingers on over the years. Tonnes of programs you do not need or want, but who ever your laptop manufacture is, decides that is good to have.

Like – Dell Dock, Dell Support Center, Dell Webcam, Live! Cam Avatar Creator, McAfe Security Center, MS Works, MS SQL Server, MS Virtual C++, MS Powerpoint Viewer, PowerDVD, Windows Live Essentials, Windows Live Upload, Windows Live Sync, GoToAssistance etc…

I missed out a few here, since I didn’t know what they do. Stuff that I would not need and is not planing to use ever, mainly because I use different programs or never will dap into them.

While that was happening I had 15 updates which I let windows install and reboot while I had a cuppa. A couple of reboots later i was testing to see if it would get faster or throw up any new nag screen at me. No on both accounts and the boot up time was still over 2min, which I do find very slow. FireFox took around 8 sec to start up which was slow compared to my old Sony and shutting down the laptop was also slow and so was other the programs I tested out.

Windows 7 did look very nice and slick and I think I could use it if I had to without too much shouting. I did start to uninstall all the above programs as I was willing to give 7 a go, well at least as a dual boot with xubuntu. So I wanted to set windows up as I wanted it to run and get used to it. But half way through the process I simply got enough of the amount of nag screens I had to click – yes I want to remove/uninstall this program and then it asked me to reboot etc.

So I got out my xubuntu 9.10 (64bit) Live CD to see if it would work on this laptop, A quick test later I was installing it with dual boot. But while that was going I figured out that I would miss out of 70 odd Gb of space on my laptop since windows needed that space along with 10Gb restore drive and 200Mb for something. And that I really don’t have the need to run anything in windows anymore. So I stopped the process and installed Xubutu 9.10 on a 65Gb disk with 3Gb Swap and the rest for my p0rn files.

EDIT : I forgot also the way that window 7 was handling my files, I did not like, it was very hard to find my files if they are not stored the way windows wanted me to. Sorry Microsoft my I know my files you don’t and I have my way of sorting them and most of all I want them on a different drive than the OS. Every system I have worked with where the files are stored on the same drive as the OS. I have many times lost all the files when the OS fell over. But where the files are stored on a different drive, even just a partitioned drive I have managed to save all the files when the OS fell over. I do not know why Microsoft and the manufacturers of the computers haven’t clocked this yet and then from day one, My Documents is on a different drive. Hard disk space is cheap now and it would not take many lines of code to change that. It will save many tears, I know I have cried myself when I learned the hard way. Though now I got a good back up and files on a different drive than the OS. So many of my friends have thanked me when I have told/taught them to store theirs away from C: and their system fell over.

That reformat took some time but with ext4 I’m now rebooting my laptop faster than it took to start up in windows. Installing the various programs I need is a doddle, I want that one, that one, that one etc, click install, click confirm, wait a bit and your programs are ready to use. Nag screens are down to the bare minimum, oh yes :) The same goes when uninstalling the programs. Yes there was around 150 updates but it took less than a minute to download and around 2 minute to install and best of all no nag screens or reboot needed.

Turn it on and I’m ready to use xubuntu in less than 35sec and Firefox is up in less than 5sec. My FTP program etc and blinding fast compared to windows 7 on this Dell. Yes I had some problems with setting up the dual monitor as I wanted, but it is much easier than the first time. And the same goes with sharing files over the network, for some reason I always fight with that.

Xubuntu 9.10 just runs on the Dell Inspiron 13z, some updates to install but no nag screens to talk about, WiFi which have been a problem with ubuntu for for some time, is now easy to set up. Above all it is very fast and just runs. From the little I played with windows 7 the other night, I know I’m not going back to windows this time around. And there is not a long wait for the new xubuntu 10.04, do I dare to install a beta on this one or should I just wait until the new version is out ?

The really good thing about this is …
– My DVD play back is working again, though I haven’t had time to test burning.
– The screen (also on the 19″ external screen) is much softer so that I can see the grey and other subtle colours much easier than before.
– A cool blue light on the power cord, not that I can see any use for it but it looks cool.
– It is every so quiet, yes you can hear the fan but even under pressure the fan don’t go any louder and I can have music on low and still hear the music and not the fan.
– It is running very cold, so if I should have it on the lap I will not cook my legs and other bits.
– The webcam worked too, not that I had any need for it before.
– The keyboard is pretty much bang on to my old Sony’s so I can easy use it, though the “insert” key is a little more to the left so copying and pasting stakes a bit of re:learning to do fast again, (if you didn’t know ctrl+insert = ctrl+c = copy, shift+insert = ctrl+v = paste)

The bad things ..,
– There is no light on the keyboard that shows if the CAPS lock is on.
– No hard disk light so that you can see if it is running like a mad thing.
– The VGA port is where I’m used to have my mouse next to my laptop,, so not much room to move around.
– The volume is a bit lower than before, must be hardware issue, since the Sony could go LOUD !! the Dell is a quieter.
– I had to pay for windows to get the computer I wanted, more companies needs to do the same as Novatech

*) Sony : SZ2XP, 2.2Ghz/600Mhz, 2Gb RAM (333Mhz), 128Mb Graphic, 2MB L2 cache, 120Gb HDD (5400rpm), DVD +/-, 13.3″ screen, 4 cell batter (I think it was)

**) Dell : Inspiron 13z, 1.3Ghz/800Hz, 3Gb RAM (800Mhz), 512Mb Graphic, 3Mb L2 cache, 320Gb HDD (7200rpm), DVD +/-, 13.3″ screen. 8 cell battery.