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Laptops, Linux & power saving

2007-09-25 16:16:25.736514+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

So I'm absolutely loving the new HP Pavilion dv6000 laptop over the MacBook Pro. There's the whole Ubuntu vs OS/X thing, even with the overhead of Gnome things just snap. OpenGL works in X apps. Keys are consistent. And there's just general feel of the hardware, the HP touchpad buttons have real throw to them, it's got two of them (3 would be better, but I can chord) and a lockout button. The hardware functions have independent buttons or are modified function keys, so a fumble-finger overstrike does something in the application, not flopping external monitor settings or flipping the annoying "Dashboard" down.

And... well... the MacBook Pro runs for a little longer than the old G4, but the Linux box actually has battery life. Not battery life like my old Fujitsu LifeBook, but this isn't an ultraportable.

However, if I tweaked it... Mark Hershberger shows some of the tweaks he's using for power management under Linux, inspired by apacheLog: Power saving++.

[ related topics: Free Software Open Source Macintosh ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 19:03:37.107208+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

dcm pointed out it would be nice to turn off wireless if you weren't using, too. Or leave bluetooth on if you needed that.

In other words, a lot more flexibility.

What do you think?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 19:36:17.38968+00 by: ebradway

Which video card do you have in your dv6000? I have the nVidia GeForce GO 7400. I had some issues getting it to work under Ubuntu (unless I used the default driver). I also tried to get Windows to boot in a virtual machine but had to update the kernel. With the updated kernel, my WiFi didn't work anymore.

I've since nuked my Ubuntu partition because I needed the disk space for all my Windows crap. Unfortunately, I remain wedded to ESRI ArcGIS and, thus, Windows. One of these days, I'll get to break away.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 20:08:28.62916+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've got the Intel video chipset. I had to install the 915resolution module to get the full screen res, but aside from that and the module to make the web cam work, both of which were a matter of checking the "install" tick for the appropriate package, I've had zero hardware conf issues.

Wireless-wise, I haven't been in a situation where I wanted it off with the new laptop, I assume that since the wireless switch on the front appears to work that if I turn that off it'll use less power. That worked on my LifeBook.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 20:53:43.602475+00 by: ebradway

FYI: The switch just turns off the antenna - but that's where the bulk of the power goes.

I think I have more issues with the higher-end video. I don't have the web-cam though.

So what do you think of the basic design vs. the Apple?

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 21:34:21.697425+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Basic design vs Apple:

MacBook Prodv6000
USB ports2 (mouse, card reader, and I'm out of ports)3 (mouse, serial adapter, card re... no wait, this has an SD card reader, so I can use the extra one for a joystick!)
Firewire ports2 full size, one in, one out1 mini
Touchpad lockoutnoyes
Touchpad button(s)1, low throw, bad tactile feedback2, reasonable throw, good tactile feedback
WiFi receptiontouchy in the next roomfinally fades out past 3rd neighbor's driveway
Remote controlnoyes
Extra buttons which do the same thingnoyes
Power connectormagnetic breakaway, sometimes a little touchy, but now that I'm used to it I'm a fanstandard DIN, needs some work and should be an "L" plug, I'll be soldering something up
Displaymatte, shows dirt, but not reflections from behindglossy, I like it as long as it's not bright behind me
SD Card readernoyes
external WiFi switchnoyes

The hardware on the HP just feels better designed, like the choices were made to balance price and functionality, whereas on the Apple I feel like the choices were made to balance price and design aesthetic.

That's hardware, but if we start to throw in OS functionality, which is kind of unfair because we're comparing OS/X with Ubuntu, not with the Windows Vista that came on the machine, we start to see some places where OS/X is starting to get a little thin:

MacBook Prodv6000
WiFi software controlsShow available networksShows available networks, their signal strengths and their encryption status
Burning .ISOsCommand line operationRight click on the ISO
Desktop searchSpotlight is usually an accidental operationI, command line and grep junkie, actually use Beagle
Software updatePops up at inopportune times, sometimes leaves no option but rebootingPops up at bootup, easier to control
Default mail softwareYes, I know that I could run Thunderbird, maybe even Evolution, but taking potshots at Mail.App is fish-in-a-barrel territory. How could Apple ship this?Evolution, Thunderbird, Claws all easily integrated into my desktop, gave me good status info
UI ConsistencyApps do different things with Cmd-Arrows, some use Ctrl-X/C/V/etc, some use Cmd-X/C/V/etcMuch more consistent use of page-up/page-down/home/end, standardize on Ctrl-X/C/V

A rev or two of Ubuntu ago I would have given the advantage to the Mac. In fact, last year I recommended that Catherine get a Mac, and I think it's served her well. Today, I think Ubuntu has overtaken the Mac. I might still recommend Apple because then I can send people off to the Apple store for their hard to figure out problems, but if they're someone I'd see regularly, I'd call it for Ubuntu.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 21:51:56.887376+00 by: ebradway

Haha... I bet this post is going to get some serious traffic now.

A friend of mine was recently berating Windows because of UI inconsistencies. Of course, he was talking up OS/X.

There are a lot of little design things about the HP that I think I've just grown accustomed enough to and now take for granted - like the control pad switch and the wifi switch and the card reader.

I think it's interesting to note that laptop purchases are usually done in a bricks-and-mortar setting whereas desktop purchases occur more often online. The reason is that design matters more for laptops than for desktops and evaluating design really is a hands-on operation.

BTW, I have the ginourmous 9-cell battery in my dv6000. Initially, I hated it because it doesn't fit as neatly in my backpack. But it provides the perfect tilt for the keyboard and, now, I couldn't see using a laptop without something similar. I also get almost three hours of runtime even under Windows.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-25 22:19:23.915344+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Yeah, I thought I was getting the stock machine, but I believe I lucked into the ginormous battery pack and the remote. Which might be part of why I don't think much of the Mac's battery life, although I've gotten a good three hours out of it at the coffee shop this afternoon, so maybe I'm unfairly maligning it. I think that G4 battery wasn't much better than a UPS.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-09-27 20:04:53.304093+00 by: Dan Lyke

And would it kill Apple to actually spend the $.37 it'd take to put in a fan that doesn't make all sorts of ungodly noise every once in a while? Yeesh, fan technology's pretty good, but both this MacBook Pro and the G4 that preceded it occasionally get the fan into a state where you think the whole thing is going to fly apart and destroy half the neighborhood when it does.

Apple: It's possible to get fans with ball bearings rather than needle bearings. Since you position yourself as a "premium" company, spending the few extra sense might be worth it.