I haven’t mentioned this yet, for reasons which I will discuss shortly.
That is a U.S.-model Inspiron 600m, which I acquired earlier this week and I have been playtesting since. It’s in lovely condition and runs like a champ, with a 1.4Ghz Celeron M, 768Mb, a 5400rpm 40Gb hard drive and an ATI Radeon Mobility FireGL 9000 running against a 1024×768 display.
It came to me after a series of mysterious lockups and freezes, all of which have disappeared since installing Ubuntu on it (the previous owner preferred Windows — an issue I have not pressed). The real debate now is whether or not this should replace the 8000 I have kept as top dog for the past three years or so.
As I see it, this is a faster, newer machine that works well and has a lot of amenities I wish were on the 8000 — things like USB 2.0, and a strong video card (even though this one has less memory). It runs nicely with Ubuntu and while I haven’t put Crux or Arch into place, I have confidence. And it’s a cleaner, lighter machine, which is appealing these days.
The downsides are rather hefty though. I like the modular drive in the 8000, which this one lacks. And technically it’s a smaller display and less video memory, which I should look down on.
But the biggest faults I can find right now are the network connections. As if a Broadcom 4318 wireless card wasn’t bad enough, it also has a 4401-based wired connector. This is the kind of hardware I usually try to avoid, just on scruples.
The wireless card is acceptable, what with fwcutter and the like at my disposal. But the irony of these two is that even with a clean Windows XP installation (something I tried as a troubleshooting measure for the previous owner) the wired connector was unusable. I tried the Windows drivers, the original Dell drivers, the updated Dell drivers and even the drivers off the Broadcom home page — and nothing would work.
Not that it matters much. I am leaning toward keeping this, and using it as the high-end compiler and distro test bed, much like what I do with the 8000 now. I’d be happier with a little more speed and different network hardware, but the verdict is still out. I have some time to think it over.