The Beast Now Has Ubuntu

A while ago I harangued the fine readers of this and my work blog about what laptop should the Riversdales buy ... many (but not all) respondents were adamant that I should not look at anything other than an Apple Macp(Pro) - yet I was unconvinced of the cost/benefit calculation.

And then a mate, Tony, said this:
Bought an Acer Extensa 5620. $1299 from DSE. Trash Vista, dual boot Solaris (better than any Linux Distro) and Mac OS X leopard. Both just work. Starting to fall in love with Mac OS X

I was sold ... just.

When it came time to hand over the credit card I had open, in 2 separate tabs, the completed order forms for Dell and Apple. Whichever I clicked on next I would buy ... call me indecisive if you want :-)

And then it hit me! What do I want this machine for? It was to use the web from anywhere (no mean machine required), store every piece of music I've got, play DVDs/Blu-ray and generally be the "media" hub for us all. With the iPhone I could surf (not 100% "use)  the web from the toilet anyway and so it was a "media" centre type affair. AND, I didn't want to have this bloody pain in the arse decision for at least 3-5 years.

I went for out and out grunt and bought the Dell XPS M1730 ... in red.

It came with everything I wanted except the unknown experience of a reportedly dodgy operating system, Windows Vista Home Professional - turned out just fine.

Anyway, we've had it for some time and it's grand.
It is, however, a beast and not something to throw into the laptop back - but then again, it's a media centre. It has also been fantastic over the summer holidays as we bum around the country allowing us to pop on a DVD for tired kids and then choose something for weary parents.

We use iTunes for everything (music and podcasts mostly), Windows Media Centre (MCE) to play DVD and Dell Media-thingy for Blu-ray. Oh, and it's Flickr for photos but we're loving the Google screensaver that shows us the latest/best of the Riverdales whilst mixing it up with the random photos our Flickr contacts, brilliant.

Everything flies along at a hell of a lick ... except the TV receiver card which I haven't managed to get working yet although I've read a bit on the always informative Geekzone that informs me I won't ever get MCE working here in New Zealand but there are free alternatives - but to be honest we don't watch that much crap New Zealand TV for me to give a shite.

And last night I installed Ubuntu 8.10 on to the beast as well following the extremely easy How to dual-boot Vista with Linux (Vista installed first) -- the step-by-step guide with screenshots

It felt like the machine opened up and I was no longer stuck in a walled environment.

The only issue was getting Windows Vista to give up some disk partition in the first place - bloody fucker! Sorted using the How-to Geek's, Working Around Windows Vista's "Shrink Volume" Inadequacy Problems

Installed and EVERYTHING works perfectly - built-in camera, WiFi, sound, keyboard, disks, mouse, screen, drivers ... everything!

That just leaves the small deal of getting Hackingtosh installed and I am sorted.
Thanks Tony, top advice! It is slowly coming together for us here in Riversdale-land.


  1. Nice machine you have there - and enjoy Ubuntu. I love using it on my work laptop too (don't tell IT though!) - as you say, it all "just works".

    Good luck with the Hackintosh too ;)

  2. "works" - and so it should! I gave a fellow Wellington-geek a little bit of cheek about Windows 7 "working" and that was beta so he could've thrown it back in my face ;-)

    Love the fact you've given yourself a machine that suits you DESPITE your IT Dept, top work ;-)

  3. I am more and more impressed with Ubuntu, day by day actually. I use it a lot on this HP even though I've got the Macbook Pro ;) no problems at all.

    Just for fun I used the Ubuntu install for an entire day at work to see how it would go - no issues. Outlook Web Access gave me my email - that was the only thing that could have been a problem.

    Like many companies, we are in cost-saving mode. So I'll be writing up a short report about it (and maybe submitting it anonymously...)


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