Saturday, December 15, 2007

Where is Vista at the Office?

A year ago I purchased a single volumn license of MS Windows Vista and decided that we, the company I work with, was not ready for migrating to this new version any time soon.

Over that year I've kept my ear to the ground, regionally I mean, speaking with other IT leaders in my area - the larger, well established, vendors - what are others doing with Vista in the workspace? Across the board, without exception, not a single medium to large company that I've spoken with has upgraded to Microsoft's latest Windows offering.

Makes you step back and think about the larger picture.

Asus Eee PC 701 Review

I will admit that I had not heard any of the hype associated with this device until I read an online article - a quick check of my preferred corporate vendor, a couple clicks, and ordered. I received two days later.

The Asus Eee PC 701 is very very cool - I am extremely thrilled with this new device and have yet to wet my appetite for tweaking it. Having purchased the Nokia N800 as well as the earlier Nokia 770 I only used these devices sparingly - usually on a business trip. The Eee PC is a full Linux computer with the Xandros distribution installed on a Intel chip. What this means is that I can easily change the software on this device to suite my needs (or desires) - more on this.

I took it out of the box at work but had no time except to plug it in and turn it on to answer the couple questions needed before I had to turn off. I got home that night and my wife immediately grabbed it, was playing most of the games that came with it for over an hour - telling me this could replace the Nokia 770 that she had been using at her work, for purchasing and surfing, etc. She obviously saw the immediate use of this computer as well. I only got my hands on it late that first night and immediately started to dig further than the Easy Mode would allow me.

The hardware for the Eee PC is extremely small - I had read the reviews, watched a clip or two online and I was still not prepared for just how light and tiny this thing is. Many of my hardcover books I port around are heavier than this computer. The next thing is the keyboard - with my fat fingers I can not comfortably type on it, so that is a negative (on my fat fingers, I won't sacrifice size for this laptop because of a larger keyboard). And the everything just works as expected for a laptop running Linux - standby power, wireless, sound, touchpad, etc.

Since this is Xandros Linux, a Debian based distribution as well, I quickly became hungry for more - knowing it could do more. I found this site which had a great wiki. A couple minutes later and my default desktop environment is running KDE with the Full Desktop (Advanced) Mode. I installed VLC, copied a couple full mp4 movies to a 4GB memory stick and off I go - full screen my video worked great!

I don't doubt that my Eee PC will be running Gentoo or Ubuntu in the next day or two, as I've only just begun playing with this fantastic device.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Day to Day Computing

I've been asked a couple times what do I use for hardware and operating systems on any given day. Those that know me would not be surprised that the answer is not a little one.

I use two laptops every day: an Apple MacBook Pro with OSX Leopard and a Zareason MegaLap with Ubuntu Linux. I have been trying to move much of my day to day work to OSX, so the Linux laptop is there for the things that I haven't gotten migrated as yet.

For desktops I have a HP workstation at the office running Microsoft Windows XP Professional. At home I have a self-built (very cool) Windows XP Professional desktop (mostly for games) and a Intel Apple iMac.

But if anyone asks next week, I'm sure the answers will be different.

Zareason HomeBox Review

After the positive experiences of purchasing a Linux laptop from this small company, I emailed Zareason to see if they would customize their HomeBox for me.

What I wanted was a stripped down machine with a second network card as I wanted to use this box as my gateway at home. The box (or cube) is beautiful, a small silver computer that tucks neatly into my shelf and does the job I intended perfectly.

I ordered the box with two 250 GB drives, 2 GB RAM and (of course) 2 NICs. Runs like a dream. Plug in an external 1 TB Lacie drive and I have a gateway as well as a public file server. This beast is now doing so much that I rely on it for my home LAN.

The only negative I had, not of the hardware or the company but of my configuration, is that I used Ubuntu Server rather than my usual Debian installation. But thats for another posting.

For the company and for this hardware, I highly recommend the both of them.

Zareason MegaLap Review

During Ubuntu Live 2007 one of the exhibitors was a small company called ZaReason. They had a host of systems on display but the one that caught my eye was the MegaLap running World of Warcraft with Compiz (it was running with Wine but what really caught my eye was the ability to move between desktops and task switching effortlessly).

This laptop is a generic Asus Z84J - 17" LCD display, 2GB RAM, NVidia Geoforce 7700, 160 GB 7200 RPM drive. The hardware is great. It comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux.

There is no bells or whistles with the product (though it does have stereo sound), you get stock parts with a stock Ubuntu install. The company is small but friendly and delivers as promised.

I do recommend this option for those looking for a pre-installed Linux laptop, if you want something besides a Dell (still not available in Canada) or a System76 machine.