August 22nd, 2006



So I've been hunting around for a new laptoppy-thing to replace my aging Dell Latitude C840, and, well... I'm just not finding anything I like. I suspect I'm asking too much from the laptop industry, but I'll throw out some thoughts and see what the tech-savvy among you think.

My non-negotiable requirements are:

  • Linux-compatible (well, duh)
  • Dual-core CPU
  • 2GB RAM (minimum)
  • 120GB hard disk (min)
  • Graphics card with open-source Linux drivers (which right now, means Intel)
  • Builtin wireless, preferably Intel (open-source drivers again)
  • CD/DVD burner
  • More than one mouse button. (Apple machines need not apply. :p)

The following requirements would be nice to have, but I'm willing to compromise a bit (moreso on the ones further down in the list than the first ones):

  • 1600x1200 or better display (don't care either way about widescreen)
  • 15" or smaller display size (yes, I am aware this is almost contradictory to the previous point)
  • 64-bit CPU
  • DVI video output
  • An eraser mouse (a la the IBM ThinkPad mouse) AND a touchpad
  • Bluetooth (because... why the hell not? :p)

So... dear Intarweb, what are your thoughts?

-- Des
  • Current Mood
    frustrated frustrated
Ranty Time!

Why I won't buy any more nVidia (or ATI) cards...

This is probably only somewhat-relevant to those of you who use Windows (and if you know why it relates to you, you're probably not using Windows anyway ;P). But for those of you who use a Real Operating System (;P), there's always Intel...

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nVidia's website contains the following gem (emphasis mine):

Why aren't the NVIDIA Linux drivers open source?

One of the biggest growth areas for Linux is in the workstation market, where NVIDIA's enterprise customers are using custom deployed OpenGL applications under Linux with our Quadro GPUs. Most of these companies require NVIDIA to provide an end-to-end solution which stipulates that NVIDIA be wholly responsible for product delivery and support, including the drivers. This is the primary reason why NVIDIA has decided to retain source code control for our 3D graphics engine.

There's just one problem with that: open source is entirely orthogonal to retaining control of your source. (Yes, that sounds contradictory, but it's true.) You can be proprietary and have a bad internal process, maintaining little or no control. Or you can be open source, and have a very stringent review process for deciding what you will and will not accept into your main source tree. You can even PGP-sign your source distribution to certify the source your customers are downloading did, in fact, come from you.

There are likely many other ways to maintain strong control over your source without locking it up.

Yes, people may fork, and there may be multiple versions of your driver out there. So what? You still only have to support your version, and since you have a business relationship with your workstation customers anyway, you can make sure they get the right one. I would bet (as many companies have) the economic value of the bugfixes and updates you'll get from the community, for free, will far outweigh the cost of dealing with the additional noise you get from letting others see, modify and redistribute your code. (Besides, the community generally helps with that, too.)

To my mind, nVidia's answer belies a lack of understanding of the open source process, at least, as far as I have seen it. I wish they would pay a bit more attention.

-- Des
  • Current Mood