New laptop

In my post last week, Time For A Linux Laptop, I discussed how my options were rather slim when it came to combining Linux, good processing power, and machines on the smaller end of the laptop scale.

The bar by which I had been measuring everything was the now discontinued Darter Ultra, by System76, which was what I had planned to buy this month, at least, until it vanished from their website’s selection of laptop computers back in the end of February.

Well, despite my lack of options, I’ve made a purchase, and it’s arriving today.

What I ended up with

I was pretty dismayed by what I’d found out there when I was doing my laptop search over the past couple of months. It was looking like I’d end up compromising either on processor power or RAM (or both), or I’d end up having to go up in size, and neither compromise made me very excited about spending this kind of money on something that wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

Well, I finally heard back from System76, and they told me something that changed the whole landscape. They had ONE Darter Ultra left!!!

Evidently, in the small laptop world (i.e., in the 12″ to 14″ scale), there are supply issues, because everywhere I have been looking, they’ve been disappearing or being marked as “out of stock”. The Darter Ultra at System76 was no exception. This is why they discontinued it.

However, they let me know that they had one remaining and wanted to know if I was interested.

Here are the specs:

Extra AC Adapter
Hard Drive: 320 GB 7200 RPM SATA II
Memory: 6 GB – DDR2 800 MHZ x 2 DIMMs
Operating System: Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) 64 Bit Linux
Optical Drive: CD-RW / DVD-RW
Processor: Core 2 Duo P9700 2.80 GHz 1066 MHz FSB 6 MB L2 (25 Watt)
Wireless: Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 – 802.11A/B/G/N Up to 450 Mbps

And, it’s a 12″ diagonal screen, which is just what I wanted. All this for $1,400 with free shipping.

Sold. 🙂

It arrives today, and I’m pretty stoked. Discontinued model or not, I’m going to do a full writeup, most likely in several parts. I’m planning a post to document my first impressions of it (complete with plenty of photos), and another post a few weeks down the road to go into what I think of it after using it for a while.

Stick around for more!

– Trent

11 thoughts on “New laptop

  1. With those Specs. you should really fly. What Printer would you be using. Imagine using Puppy Linux.
    Have Fun.

  2. Unfortunately the intel wifi needs a binary blob to function.

    So it is impossible for this laptop to run a fully free software GNU/Linux distribution like gNewSense:

    Sure, you could buy an external usb dongle like netgear wg111v3 which runs with a free driver but then you could have achieved the same result buying a dell or lenovo or asus.

    Since I was tired to give money to companies like that I bought a Lemote Yeeloong, a fully free software laptop (bios included).

    Sure, for now it’s only a mipsel 10” netbook but Lemote is a company that is supporting free software FOR REAL.

    More info here:

    Graziano Sorbaioli
    gNewSense Community Manager
    LibrePlanet Italia Founder

    • I guess that doesn’t bother me. Why?

      Because I also listen to MP3s, which is a non-free compression algorithm. Why? Because I can’t find an MP3 player that meets my needs that supports .OGG.

      Because I also use Flash online, which is also a non-free plugin, and it is ubiquitous. Surfing the web these days with no Flash is just pointless.

      Because Dell or Lenovo or Asus don’t make a laptop that suits my needs, and System76 did.

      In short, friend, I’d love to support nothing but free software and products. But we have to be practical too. It boils down to this: If a company wants my business, they need to make a product that suits my needs. I am not going to change my needs to suit available products, just because they’re open source.

      • Need an mp3 that supports .ogg?
        I’m not sure what your requirements are, but I’d suggest checking out COWON players. Superior equalizers, .ogg support along with .mp3, .flac, .wav, .wma, .mp4, and a couple others I think. Plus they aren’t as expensive as equivalent apple machines. Some Rockbox firmware runs on them (not all models). I haven’t payed more than $250 CAD for 48GB flash memory touch-screen plus video/flash/text viewer. Pretty darn small too.

        • I wrote a post on the subject last summer.

          In short, I’m looking for an MP3 player that:

          1) Has greater than 40GB native storage (not removable)
          2) Has 10+ hours of battery life on a single charge
          3) Has MSC mode, that is, doesn’t take a special program to load music onto it (copy+paste)
          4) Is no larger than a standard iPod

          Cowon makes some pretty nice players, unfortunately, I haven’t seen one yet that meets the storage requirements.

      • “I am not going to change my needs to suit available products, just because they’re open source.”

        As long as you reward people who disrespect you, you justify their contempt.

        I also listen to MP3s, which is a non-free compression algorithm. … I also use Flash online, which is also a non-free plugin, and it is ubiquitous.

        Do not confuse a liberating act of civil disobedience with sheepishly accepting malware in order to view works published by big publishers. MP3 decoders are free software and laws that prohibit their use and sharing are wrong. Distributions like Debian play MP3 out of the box and you should not have a problem with this music format. Flash is an obnoxious piece of malware that tracks your browsing habits, makes it easy for people to hijack your computer and fills every page you view with blinking banners in a way that big publishers enjoy. Non free software like Flash should only be installed on toy computers that never touch anything with confidential information or real work on it. Some of the further harm done by non free firmware is described here.

        I think you will be frustrated by the Intel wireless set in time. It can tie you to a particular kernel, perhaps a distribution. The less freedom your system has, the bigger a pain it is to upgrade but the more you will be compelled to do just that.

        Until really free hardware is available, I try to purchase my hardware used. This is a practical way to meet my needs without rewarding hardware companies that hate my freedom. My hope is that System 76 will one day provide free hardware too.

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  4. Glad you were able to find a laptop that suits YOUR needs. I think as long as you make an informed decision weighing the pros and cons whether it be completely free or completely closed, you have the right to do so without being ridiculed. Enjoy your linux laptop. My ultimate laptop would be the build of a macbook pro on the outside, thats integrated with linux friendly hardware on the inside. Sadly I have yet to find it…

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