Apr 23, 2012

Dell XT3 - Linux

After installing windows for my job I also installed the soon to be released Ubuntu 12.04. I didn't expect it to go too well as Windows took me a long time to install and nothing worked out of the box there. Windows was quite a pain to get up and running with all the hardware this nice laptop comes with.

I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised as with Ubuntu everything worked out of the box. At least everything I tried and used. So far I didn't use the Fingerprint reader as well as the SD card slot. I wonder why Dell doesn't offer the Latitude XT3 preinstalled with Ubuntu.

The only minor problem so far is that not all special key functions work correctly. But all the important ones and most of the not so important ones work just fine. The multitouch trackpad does even work better with Ubuntu as two finger scrolling in windows is something you need to get used to. It does work as expected in Ubuntu and has somehow a small input lag with Windows. It's rather annoying as its hard to scroll anywhere with that.

It starts up to the login screen in 10 seconds, which is half of what Windows 7 uses. On my desktop at home I have autologin active as I'm the only one using it. As the laptop is mobile and can be stolen more easily I login every time. Also I encrypted my home folder which requires you to login as this would defy the purpose if you autologin. After login it takes about two seconds to a fully working and usable desktop. It's pretty damn fast with Ubuntu 12.04. And looks beautifully at that. A co-worker of mine was quite astonished at the speed and look of Ubuntu. I think he would like to have his Windows/Mac box be a Windows/Ubuntu/Mac box now.

I did draw a bit with the screen being capable of pen input. It's really nice to see what you draw directly under your pen. The overall experience is better (mostly faster, more responsive) on my Bamboo Fun Tablet. Besides that the tablet has more features. But for rough sketches, quick diagrams or annotating something its nice to have.

Overall I'm pretty satisfied with how Ubuntu performs on this nice Dell Latitude XT3 laptop. Besides a few minor things there isn't any real deal breaker here.

Apr 22, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 - first impressions

So I've been using Ubuntu 12.04 for a few months now. Mostly on my netbook but also for about three weeks on my new XT3 Laptop and a few days on my main machine at home. There is a lot to like about this release. It's well polished and refined. The Unity interface really starts to shine now. So like with the last release here are my first impressions on Ubuntu 12.04 "Precise Pangolin":
  • Unity is fast. It feels very snappy to use even on my aging netbook. It's great to use like this.
  • Finally, the most important aspects of Unity can be easily customized. And even more using MyUnity from the Software Center.
  • The Unity multi-monitor improvements are very welcome. As a developer I usually use at least two monitors. With this release of Unity it is fairly usable, at least on pair with Windows.
  • Love the changed Unity Dash front page. The old one was never of use to me. This might have (after some time) the applications right there that I actually want to launch.
  • Overall the "attention-to-details" changes made are all really nice and all over the place. Everything behaves better, simpler, faster.
  • Linux hardware support is getting to a point where you can expect it to work better than windows (just like with my netbook as well as my brand new laptop). Microsoft really needs Windows 8 and it needs it soon or they gonna loose the edge they had for so long.
  • The newest XBMC Media Center is very easy to install and very nice to use. With all the Android and iOS apps out there acting as great remotes this is awesome! And it's as simple as logout and login to get to it and have a great media center experience.
  • Improvements to the Software Center are great. I'm starting to use it more often.
  • Desura is also awesome and has a lot more Linux games now. It went from 48 games about 6 months ago to 130+ now. Also I should mention that you can play a lot of GoG.com games easily on Linux (DOSBox/Wine). Just if the Desura games arn't enough for you.
  • Wine has improved a lot. It works well with a lot more games and it integrates much better into the system.
  • My Wacom Tablet, Webcam and Android Phone seem to work as expected. No configuration or modifications needed.
  • Startup speed is great. With an SSD Ubuntu tend to use half the time Windows 7 takes to the login screen. At least on my Desktop and Notebook this is the case. I have no need to hibernate my computers. The difference isn't big with the short start times already there.
  • Most of the first impressions for Ubuntu 11.10 still apply here.
I like this release, it's a good improvement over the last releases (as usual). But as with any LTS release software packages are not as up-to-date as I'd like. So I already can't wait for an other "normal" release that isn't as conservative. Ubuntu 12.10 will be more to my taste. And I already can't wait for it.

As usual a list of things I didn't like will follow shortly after the final release. As some things I already found might be fixed by then. I think the dislike list is going to be shorter than for any other release I've written one, but we'll see ...

Apr 21, 2012

Trouble installing/running Wakfu

Ubuntu Forums - View Single Post - [SOLVED] Trouble installing and running Wakfu

thank good I found this one. Wouldn't be able to run it on my fresh Ubuntu 12.04 installation without this. Who would think of installing "libjpeg62:i386" on a 64bit system. But runs fine now :)

Apr 15, 2012

Dell XT3 - Windows

As I use the XT3 mostly at work (and for work) I'm in Windows a lot. I have high hopes for Windows 8 on the XT3 as it has a nice Touch-Screen. But for now Windows 7 is what I have to use.

Right after I got it I did a clean install of the Windows 7 (+SP1) version that came with it. After the installation almost nothing works out of the box on this Laptop. Luckily it also comes with a separate drivers disc with dozens of drivers on it. Did I mention that the XT3 doesn't have a DVD drive but comes with discs for all the software? Funny ...

Installation of Windows (+all updates) and Drivers took me about 3-4 hours (constant restarting :/ ). After that, I installed all the software I usually need for work like MS Office, Visual Studio and Expression Studio. All went pretty well and after about 8+ hours I was done with a basic installation. Right now it boots in about 20 seconds to the login screen. This feels pretty fast compared to my old work PC which used like 5 minutes.

As mentioned in my last post about the hardware I did get it to a point where the graphics did start to lag a bit while dragging things around. Sandy Bridge processors aren't known for great graphics. So this laptop isn't good for playing games. But that's not what I use it for anyway. All in all I'm pretty satisfied with it so far, it's a good, fast machine to code on ...

Apr 14, 2012

Hardware: Dell Latitude XT3

Recently I got a Dell Latitude XT3 for work. So far it seems well build and I kind of like the simple design. It's light enough to carry around and has a big enough display to code with. Also the Multi-Touch Screen is handy for me as I do a lot of touch development (MS Surface, WinTouch, Mobile as well as hopefully soon Win8/WinRT).

Positive Parts:
  • Tablet convertible and Pen/Touch usage.
  • Fast SSD is great and likely from all choosable options the most important one.
  • Layout of all Ports. As with my old Dell-Netbook the layout is very usage oriented. Ports are where you expect/need them to be. 
  • Build in Bluetooth and SD card port are always handy to have.
  • I like the Keyboard. It feels good and has all the keys on the right places.
  • The hardware feels very robust and it's still light enough to carry around with you.
  • Even under stress (got the i5 version) the fans are very silent.
  • Hardware seems to work fine in both Windows and Linux.

Negative Parts:
  • The lock to hold the display while its closed/in tablet mode seems a bit hit and miss. It doesn't lock well and often I have to try is multiple times to event get it to lock. 
  • The Intel GPU is a bit on the "light" side. For a Sandy Bridge CPU this is normal. And for future Intel GPUs this will likely not be a problem anymore. It's still well usable but I get it to the point where I feel that it's not keeping up. Especially of course if you plug-in an external monitor. Ivy Bridge will improve a lot in this area.
I think the Notebook fits well for my work. And it lets me work from home/university/everywhere I got internet access. More on the software side later ...

Apr 7, 2012

You want to try switching to Ubuntu?

Don’t get stuck trying to re-create a solution you used in Windows to a problem that doesn’t actually exist on Linux. You have a whole world of new possibilities in front of you now, take advantage of that and question your old habits.
Great, great post! Couldn't find better words for these problems new users have.
In the Linux ecosystems, we do things a little (ok a lot) smarter. Instead of each user scouring the internet for themself, distros do that for you. All you need to do is open the package manager or software store (e.g. Ubuntu Software Center) and tell it what you’re looking for.
Something I see regularly for new users. Advanced users already familiar with Linux will start to use Google again. PPAs are just so nice if you know how to handle them. Also interesting comment there:
Windows 7 wouldn’t install. Not until I disconnected (physically) the second hard drive so as to not confuse it’s little brain. Not only did Ubuntu install, but it set up a bootloader to boot both OS’s with no hassle whatsoever.
Guess which OS didn’t recognize his wireless card?
Guess which OS didn’t recognize his video card, and stuck in a horrible low rez?
Thankfully, I was able to boot to the Ubuntu partition and download drivers for these things Windows could not find automagically.
Have almost the same problem with my netbook and the current Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Also funny addition:
If it wasn’t for mainstream games, there would be no reason for Windows to exist.
So where is my Steam for Linux? damn ... :)

Apr 6, 2012

Fallout free on GOG

Fallout - GOG.com

Fallout is a great old game! And you can get it for free on GOG.com! With that you can play it legally on Windows, Mac and Linux! using DOSBox :).. enjoy!