Wednesday, January 18, 2012

UEFI Secure booting is good for Linux

Microsoft will block non Windows on the ARM platform. Big deal. It is if installing Linux on any other Laptop is easy. Sure you can install Linux on most Laptops today. But does it really work? Do you get the same battery time with Linux as with Windows? Nope. Do your multimedia Keys work? In 90% of the cases only partially. Does your computer suspend or hibernates as in Windows? in about 50% of the cases the answer is no. Does your Graphics Card works the same as under Windows ? NOPE.

So, the situation is like this: OEM A makes a deal with M$ and writes proper drivers to the hardware and SomeUser Joe gets a hardware which works perfect with Windows 7. Later, SomeUser Joe, installs SomeCrack for SomeCoolSoftware which contains a Trojan which he can't get rid of. After some frustration, he decides to quit with this M$ thingi and give Ubuntu a try, because he heard it's cool. He than tries Ubuntu and discovers some things don't work. Here our little story splits.

First possibility, the Linux Sucks possibility. SomeUser Joe, is frustrated, his computer will freeze every time he resumes it from suspend. Or the graphics card is slow, or the Fan always works loudly. Linux Sucks. Period. SomeUser Joe, bites it, and installs Windows 7. His next computer will be Apple.

Second possibility, the Linux has a cool community, SomeUser Joe, heard about it and wants to join. So, he files another bug, which might be taken seriously, or not, in Ubuntu's bugzilla. This bug might find it's way upstream to the Kernel developers and they might solve it, but the patch will only be in the next release of Ubuntu maybe in 6 months from now. Damn speculations. But Linux works at most. So, in 3 years from now SomeUser Joe, might look for a new Laptop, without the Windows Tax, and will save a scrap of 50 bucks, which he will spend 100 times more money in working hours value digging through forums and IRC channels trying to get he's M$ free Laptop to work.

Third Possibility, SomeUser Joe buy his next Laptop with Linux pre-installed. Hell yes! UEFI is a great thing. I wish all M$ devices would never run Linux. It will force Linux fan boys to see that by saving $50 to $100 dollars buying a Laptop from OEM's which sell Windows, they sleep with the Devil. UEFI is a great opportunity to Linux and FOSS, because we have a great OS in our hands and now we have also Free Hardware like the BeagleBoard, PandaBoard, RaspberryPi and even the GTA04.

There are some small companies the sell Linux laptops which have the latest trends in hardware. If there are just 1 Million Linux users and just one third of them will buy a new device this year, that is about 300,000 laptops sold with Linux. I think this is a huge jump in sales for a small company like ZaReason or System76. They would be then more then able to go out on a broad campaign putting Linux on the main stream student Laptop.

So, please, stop whining about UEFI. Just don't buy laptop from OEM like Dell or Lenovo or Acer or Asus. There are ENOUGH alternatives for Preinstalled Linux Laptops. Here is a short list:

If you happen to know of others, please let me know through a comment!

(P.S. Dell don't count! Dell's Ubuntu offering mock Linux users, offering a free OS with lousy hardware which costs more than the Windows installed laptops with cost cheaper for better hardware. Just because of this mockery, I will never recommend any customer of mine or buy myself any product of Dell).

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Saving Karo: making a 6 years old laptop alive again...

Karo is the second laptop I got, I bought in my second year of Uni, in 2005. Karo, diamond in Turkish, is an HP Compaq nx6110 business Laptop. I have used it through my Bachelor and my Master studies. During these 5 years, I upgraded its memory from 512MB to 2GB, and replaced the Harddrive a few times from 40GB to 80GB and then to 120GB and finally to 160GB.
On the last year of its business warranty the laptop had problems with the CD-ROM and one of the USB ports died as a result of bad wiring. So, HP took the laptop and installed a whole new motherboard on their expense.
About a year later, when I was between my Master and Bachelor, I was on a very shaky bus ride and Karo fell off the luggage compartment 2m down. Although it was in a special case, the screen splintered and was not readable anymore.
Just going out of school, I was not able to replace the laptop  so quickly, so for about 130 Euro, I bought a compatible LCD screen and replaced it myself. To my surprise it worked very nicely. HP have a very nice service manual which accompanied me since then.
So now Karo, had many new parts, and it was not worth buying a new laptop. I started studying a Master, and karo served me well. Until 4 months before I graduated, while I was writing my thesis, karo became extremely noisy.
It's fan was working non stop, and it was never able to cool itself down once it went over 65C degrees. I didn't feel like experimenting so much, and the only thing that bother me about Karo besides the noise was it's damn heavy weight. So I bought yenikaro, a new light weight 14" laptop which was nice and quiet with a weigh of 1.4 Kg.
Karo, moved away from the table, and was seldom turned on. However,  this weekend, I decided to revive karo, and see if I can fix the noise problem. I followed HP excellent guide on how to access the fan. Once I open the laptop, lo and behold, karo had between it's fan and the vent I found a huge bulk of fibers and dust, it was so big, I just had to take a photo of it:

I removed the fan, and than carefully cleaned all the insides of the laptop from dust and fibers and other fine particles. Then, I closed it, and rebooted into my Debian again. Karo, is silent again. Now it just needs a new Harddrive replacement for the 3 years old hard drive and it can be used again ...