Linux + My Laptop = Fail

Now, many of you will probably wonder why I would say such a thing.  I’m pro-F/OSS, pro-Linux and pro-Freedom (especially when it comes to computing and the internet).  But (and this is a big but), it just doesn’t work on my laptop.

I extolled the wonders of this laptop when I first got it.  It’s a Gateway MX3225 (for those who don’t remember) and has some fairly gnarly driver issues (on Linux, anyway).

Let’s start from the top:

Awhile ago, I tried a couple different distros with (I’d say) fair success.  I had gotten wireless, graphics and sound working on one distro (Mandriva) but the wireless immediately “crapped out” on me after a reboot.

Anyway, I tried the following in the last week.

SamLinux 2007 (PCLinuxOS)

This one really had potential.  I got XFCE working, I loved the setup and feel of it, and didn’t have a very hard time with the wireless setup (after I found the needed ndiswrapper drivers).  I had wireless working rather painlessly, actually, and was happy with the way my desktop looked and felt.  I had all the programs I used up and running.  The only thing was, I didn’t have sound.  At all.  I tried the PCLinuxOS forums, but most of them dealt with KDE issues, not XCFE issues.  So, I kind of gave up on it.  It lasted all of three days.

Mandriva (again)

I figured I could get Mandriva up and running; I had before.  I got the resolution set up properly and the wireless working but I still had no sound.  The wireless stopped working after a day (again) and I started with a download of openSUSE.


This one installed everything but the kitchen sink.  It had everything you could want, including Flash and RealPlayer/Helix.  All I can say is, “wow”.  Again, I got wireless working pretty quickly and the resolution set up.  Again, I had no sound!  Eeeee!  This was getting frustrating.  I tried some of the community resources, but I was getting tired of having to muck with things to get them to work.


Now, I’ve gone back to Windows on the laptop.  Many of you may very well gasp in horror at my perceived anti-F/OSS stance on this.  I’m not a zealot when it comes to Linux, but I do encourage people to use at least some F/OSS programs.  If they can’t use some form of Linux or BSD, this is the best alternative.

For instance, I have two of my co-workers using Mozilla Firefox.  I haven’t gotten them to try Flock or other F/OSS programs, but I have them running Firefox which is, in my humble opinion, superior to IE (any form, especially IE6).  Now, I just need to extol the virtues of Pidgin and the Gimp.  Ha!

Going back to Windows almost feels like giving up.  It’s begrudging, but it does work; and that’s what I need: a working laptop.

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4 thoughts on “Linux + My Laptop = Fail”

  1. i know what you mean, hey. it’s so hard sometimes with linux. you want to ditch windows, but some things just simply do not work when you load up linux. i’ve always had a graphics card problem with my laptop and ubuntu, which windows doesn’t have. i also find java and flash annoying to get working on it. and the lack of a messenger program equivalent to msn and yahoo really annoys me sometimes. not because i think these things are ultra important, but because i don’t understand how scummy windows manages to get through such tasks so easily and linux can’t. it seems weird.

    anyway, i agree with you. at the end of the day, you don’t own a computer for the sake of making statement. you own it to perform a task. and if it doesn’t perform with linux, then you don’t have much of a choice but to opt for a windows distro.

    hopefully things will improve in the future and linux will become more laptop friendly. i hope so. lots has changed already, so im sure it has to improve at some point.

  2. Yeah, it does.

    But, I have Ubuntu working like a dream on my desktop. I’ve got Compiz, some games, all the email/web/chatting I could want… and word processing too. It does everything I want it to do, and more, really.

    I got sick of mucking around with sound, wireless, and resolution.

    I agree that things have gotten better (I started out on Warty Warthog and boy was it “warty”!). I’m looking forward to the time where it’s transparent as to which operating system you’re using. As it stands now, unless someone has some funky theme, I can tell if they’re using Mac, Windows, Sun, Linux, etc. Not only transparent to the operator, but also transparent as to the programs you run on it… I guess we have that now, with some programs (firefox, flock, pidgin, etc).

    Oh well, maybe I’m pipe-dreaming…


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