Back On The Chain Gang

Posted on 2nd January 2008

First day back at work. I was dreading it a little as on the Saturday before Christmas my laptop screen broken and was unusable. I could plug it up to an external monitor, but that isn't all that useful to have sitting on your lap. Thankfully the laptop is under warranty, so our IS guys are going to send it back. In the meantime I've got a new chassis.

The laptop is a Lenovo R61, and although it's a wide-screen, I have finally got used to it. However, the biggest disappointment has been trying to get Linux, specifically Ubuntu and Fedora, running on it. I've given up for the time being, but I plan on having another go at some point. I've seen someone else with Ubuntu running on it, so it is possible.

Yesterday Nicole's laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1501) also suffered problems. The touchpad failed to respond and seeing as there is no other mouse pointer type device on it (apart from plugging in my USB mouse), it was a bit difficult to actually do anything apart from shut it down. I was expecting to be able to use CTL or ALT keys in combination with other keys to get access to the administration tools (this is Ubuntu 7.04). While there probably is some key combination, it wasn't obvious and I didn't have internet access to find out.

I opened up the laptop and couldn't find anything wrong with the touchpad itself, so put it all back together (plus a bit of cleaning) and it worked again. However, the sigh of relief was short lived. The touchpad now works but the onboard wireless now doesn't. I can't tell whether the mini-card or the antenna is at fault, and have now discovered that the side panel where a regular PCMCIA card goes is acutally an ExpressCard slot.

Seeing as a wifi ExpressCard costs over £50, I'm not sure whether to shell out for a new mini-card (about £20) or a USB wireless adapter (less than £20). Seeing as the Broadcom mini-card seems to be having a lot of problems keeping hold of the network, I think the USB wireless adapter might be the better bet.

When I bought the laptop originally, it was going to be mine to use at conferences and work on various Perl projects. After it arrived the annoyance of it being a wide-screen meant Nicole got it all for herself. I've learnt a few lessons from the purchase and is one of the reasons it's taken me so long to fork out for another.

DanDan got his very own laptop for Christmas, and last night was the only one fully working in the house. Considering it was the lowest spec of the three, it's stood up quite well. He's pretty good at navigating to his games sites and doing some basic admin stuff. It's got Ubuntu installed and yes Perl is on there too, but I think it'll be a while before I get him programming.

Looking at the Ubuntu WifiDocs pages it would seem the USB wireless adapter isn't as easy a choice as I thought it might be. Still it has to be better than another temperamental Broadcom card.


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