I recently bought myself a new laptop - the Dell XPS M1530. I was originally considering a Macbook, but that was a little too pricey for me. I started to fancy OS X ever since I found out that it is basically FreeBSD at the core. Also, there is the eye-candy. Other than the price-tag, I also realized that the only reason I would want the Macbook was because it looks so good. That didn't seem entirely practical. I could still get the eye-candy and the productivity on another OS. The last laptop I bought was an Alienware beast. It was ridiculously heavy and I got sick of lugging it around. It basically a desktop masquerading as a laptop. In addition to being really heavy, it generates quite a lot of heat. Enough to burn your lap. But it plays games really, really well. Anyway, I decided that I would look for a nice non-Apple laptop. After scouring the Internets and reading a bunch of reviews, I settled on the XPS. It's sleek, stylish, fast, portable, and it got a bunch of good reviews. I went to the Dell site and configured my XPS:
- Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7700 (2.4GHz/800Mhz FSB, 4MB Cache)
- 3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2 Dimms)
- 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT
- 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- High Resolution glossy widescreen 15.4 inch LCD(1680x1050) 2MP Camera
- Slot Load DVD+/-RW (DVD/CD read/write)
- Integrated Sound Blaster Audigy HD Software Edition
- Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N Mini-card (4965AGN)
It's got some punch. I'm mainly going to use it as a development machine so the RAM and speed definitely help as far as compile-times go. They estimated about two weeks to build the laptop, but actually I got a pleasant surprise when the laptop arrived a little over a week after I ordered it. I wasn't disappointed in the least when I opened up the package. The first thing I did was blast Vista off the hard-drive and install PC-BSD. This is where I learnt a hard lesson. Stability in the BSD world comes at a price. You don't have very good hardware support (for no fault of FreeBSD; I'll rant about this later) for the latest hardware. Drivers are not included until they are reliable and stable. As a result, my Marvell Yukon 88E8040 Gigabit Ethernet card, and my Intel 4965AGN Wireless-N card were unrecognized. Marvell (surprisingly) had a FreeBSD 6 driver on their website that is supposed to work with the 88E80XX series, but I was unable to get it to work on my system. I tried using ndiswrapper to get the Intel card working, but I only succeeded in crashing my system very nicely. I was pretty bummed. I really didn't want to go back to using The Evil (Vista), and so I decided to play around with kubuntu for a while. It was nice, and I may get back to it. But for the hell of it, I wiped it off and tried to install OS X on it. I was able to get a "patched" Leopard ISO and I actually got it to install on the XPS. However, I wasn't able to get it to recognize any of my network devices. So after playing around with that for a while, I went back to The Evil. I am hoping that by the time PC-BSD 2.0 or FreeBSD 7.0 rolls around, there will be more support for the network cards. If that's the case, I'll definitely be wiping out Vista and installing PC-BSD (or install FreeBSD 7.0 and build KDE). I've been using Vista for a little while, and I guess it's not so bad. It'll stay out of your way if you ask it to. But it really doesn't compare to either PC-BSD, Kubuntu, or Leopard. As far as the XPS, I like it a whole lot. I think Dell has done a pretty good job with it.
12 thoughts on “My new laptop”
ndiswrapper? you poor thing.
Assuming you wanted to go with a UNIX, did you consider a Thinkpad?
It’s too late now. I saw the XPS and I went "OOOOH SHINY!!". I used to have Lenovo when I was working at Intel and I guess it had more BSD friendly hardware. I’ve used ndiswrapper on a Marvell chipset with success before. I’ve got two Wireless-N cards on two of my systems at home. I used ndiswrapper on both of them and it works beautifully. But it’s a hit-or-miss thing. I’m just waiting for FreeBSD 7.0… heh.
sounds like you’ve got a sweet rig!
I know you’re a UNIX guy, though I might have to dock you a couple points for not sporting a beard, what is keeping you from using kubuntu on a regular basis? or growing a beard for that matter?
Haha – I actually did have a beard until yesterday. The only thing that keeps me from sporting a regular one is that I have to shave it every month when I go for drill.
I played around with kubuntu, but for some reason I was having trouble getting compiz-fusion working on it. That, in addition to a bunch of other stuff (wireless). That is probably due to my impatience as well. I’ll definitely give it a shot again sometime. I’ve also been looking at LinuxMint.
I have the same laptop and I am having the same issues with FreeBSD. Even with 7.0 the networking is still not working. They added the msk driver that supports Marvel Yukon chipsets, but not the 88E8040 apparently. At least not that I can see. Not sure why it is not supported but it really sucks.
I have been using ubuntu on the laptop in the meantime and have compiz-fusion working fine even in kde. It is a little sluggish even with the nvidia graphics. My previous laptop had the integrated Intel graphics and it ran very smoothly. It is probably just a setting I have wrong though. But at least the networking is working fine. So can’t complain too much. Hopefully there will be a resolution to the Marvel card soon in FreeBSD.
even my name is vivin even my intrest is same as yours i do play piano but i do it professionaly.Are youn a computer guy.we both are of same name and charecter so lets tighten our relationship please mail me if you get time or if you are in orkut please send me a friend request the mail id is the same mentioned above.wishing you the very best bye froom vivin paul
Hiiii Vivin time to update the blog! looking forward to read more! =] takecare
So no luck on FreeBSD 7.0? I was thinking of trying it out, hoping that the msk drivers would work. I guess I might have to either stick with Vista or go with Kubuntu. Do you have the 4965AGN? Have you been able to get that to work under Kubuntu? I think the driver is supported in linux.
You can find me on Orkut – just search for my name!
I’ll update it as soon as possible. I’ve just been pretty busy with work!
I installed ubuntu and the 4965AGN was detected and is working fine. I would imagine that kubuntu would detect it also. I have had no issues with ubuntu but I just prefer FreeBSD so hopefully there will be a solution soon.
I’ll wait to see updates! =]
FreeBSD 8 supports the XPS 1530 network card and there is supposedly a backport to 7.2 that I could not get to work.
I’m currently struggling to get 8 to work as it is CURRENT but network works pretty fine, at least for the wired part.
Unfortunately, PC-BSD which is far behind from FreeBSD (regarding version number) won’t have support until next major release.
You could still be productive on a Mac !!!