Another infuriated Vista owner tries an Ubuntu setup. One of the new employees in the office has a gorgeous HDX9210TX, a Hong Kong model of a media center “laptop,” although it can hardly be called a laptop. With a 20-inch screen and a weight of more than 12 pounds, it’s very much a desktop replacement but hardly a portable computer. You could call it that, but then you’d have to call my old SX-64 a portable computer too, and it was probably twice as heavy.
But Vista was failing for most of the games the owner wants to play — things like Second Life, World of Warcraft and a few others I never heard of. Stuttering graphics, program crashes at regular intervals, poor video acceleration and slow overall performance. It’s a classic case of garbage software on cutting-edge hardware.
And beautiful hardware too. Very sleek and fancy. Dual core, dual hard drive, 3Gb RAM, fingerprint reader, touch-panel buttons, etc., etc. You’ve probably already seen the specifics page.
Vista wasn’t doing the job though, and the owner was very irritated (I would be too, if I spend US$2000 on a machine that sputtered while running Second Life). It took a very long time (comparatively) to start up, and the one-shot recovery disk allowance took almost two hours and two DVDs to complete (I suggested a set of backup discs, since it’s possible Ubuntu just won’t fit. And these days, retailers don’t give you installation CDs any more. I mean, you might pirate them or something ).
But who cares about Vista anyway? We tried an 8.04 live CD first, and it seemed happy enough. A full installation went very quickly and very successfully. Performance under Ubuntu is fantastic: I finally found a machine that can get to a stock Ubuntu Gnome desktop in 30 seconds. Of course, my puny 550Mhz running Crux still leaves it in the dust, but that’s another story.
Best of all, the video drivers work perfectly — native screen resolution on first boot, and the proprietary ATI drivers have the X2600 running with excellent acceleration, on that giant 20-inch screen. It’s amazing to watch, really.
The only stickler thus far is the sound — as in, there isn’t any. I looked at lspci very briefly and it looked like the sound card was part of an integrated setup — I don’t remember the specifics and since Ubuntu didn’t find the driver on its own, it’s possible that it’s obscure or unsupported right now. I have some homework to do on that.
And that could be a dealbreaker on a machine that’s intended as a gaming rig and an entertainment station. The Second Life Linux client runs beautifully, but without sound. There are some other games that will need adjusting or native clients or just run through Wine. But those are best sorted out once the sound issue is solved (for better or for worse), since Wine won’t know what to do with the sound, unless Ubuntu can figure out what to do with the sound.
Otherwise, stay tuned as this one develops. If anyone has experience with those machines or can find the audio modules or drivers, I’d be highly indebted.