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Review: System 76 Darter laptop

By Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on March 29, 2007 (8:00:00 AM)

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While users are pleading with Dell to sell systems with Linux pre-installed, smaller vendors have been offering Linux on OEM hardware for some time. One of the more recent arrivals in the OEM Linux market is System 76, which sells a decent selection of desktop, workstation, and notebook systems with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed. I test-drove the company's Ubuntu-certified Darter laptop recently, and found that it has a few flaws, but overall provides a decent system for Linux users clamoring for a Linux-friendly vendor.

If you want to know about System 76's default install of Edgy, read our review; there's not much different here. The laptop does include Beagle installed by default and available in the top GNOME toolbar.

If you buy the system, it should come with a manual and quickstart guide. Mine didn't, but only because I picked up a review unit from the company's main office in Denver rather than going through the usual process. I did get a PDF of the quickstart guide, which gives a quick overview of the GNOME menu, installing the System 76 drivers, and URLs for the System 76 knowledge base and other Ubuntu help sites.

When I powered the machine on, I had to step through a short series of questions to set up my username, password, and timezone. After that, the system was ready to use -- and I mean entirely ready. I expected to have to run an update as soon as the system was online, but the machine had been updated before I picked it up.

I asked whether this was standard operating procedure, or whether the system was just updated in the office before being sent out for a review. I was told that all systems are updated just prior to shipping. Buyers might need to update one or two packages if Ubuntu releases an update while the machine is in transit, but the system should be largely up-to-date from the start.

Laptop specs and body

The Darter seems to be based on the Asus Z35Fm barebones laptop. The machine is light, and doesn't get too warm after extended use, at least as long as it's in a well-ventilated position. I used a laptop arm attached to a table for most of the time I spent with the Darter, which meant it had a decent amount of airflow around it. I also used it on my lap for a few hours and it never got scorching hot, unlike a few laptops I've tried.

The laptop has a nice keyboard -- not quite as crunchy or sturdy as the IBM ThinkPad that I'm used to, but with decent feedback. The Home/PageUp/PageDown/End keys are arranged all the way at the right side of the keyboard; it took me a few days to get used to the keyboard arrangement, but it's not so bad as to be unusable.

Speaking of arrangements, I really like the way that the Darter has its three USB ports arranged. Instead of plopping all the USB ports on one side of the machine or the other, the Darter has one USB port each on the right, left, and rear of the system. This means that if you're a lefty (or a righty), you can plug in a mouse on the appropriate side of the machine, and not have to drape the cord around the machine just to put the mouse where it works best for you.

The trackpad has a nice feel to it as well, though I would like to have a three-button trackpad for a Linux machine. You can chord the trackpad buttons to get the middle mouse button, of course, but I've gotten spoiled by having a third button on the ThinkPad. I'd also like to have the option to turn the trackpad off when a pointing device is attached via USB, as I can on my Apple iBook.

The screen is very bright, and the display is very crisp. The maximum/default resolution is 1280x800, which I found to be adequate for normal use.

With the exception of my trusty ThinkPad, the Darter is one of the sturdiest laptops I've had the pleasure of using. The laptop's chassis construction feels solid, and the screen does not flex much when you open and close it from a corner.

The review system I received included a Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, 1GB of system RAM, an Intel GMA 950 video chipset, Intel integrated audio and 802.11 a/b/g wireless Ethernet adapter, and a dual-layer DVD-RW/CD-RW drive. The system also includes a 10/100 Ethernet port, a single PCI Express card slot, a memory card reader, and a FireWire port with a mini FireWire connector.

The audio on the system is fairly good; not stellar, but good enough that you could listen to tunes on the laptop and be OK with the sound quality. It also has an onboard microphone; I used it to make a few calls with Skype and also tried recording my voice using the GNOME Sound Recorder. I didn't receive any complaints about voice quality via Skype, but I did notice a fair amount of noise when I was recording my voice using the Sound Recorder; you wouldn't want to use the mic to record a podcast. The Darter also has headphone and microphone jacks in the front of the system, under the PCI Express card slot.

I have no complaints at all with the system's performance, despite the fact that the Intel graphics chipset shares RAM, dynamically, with system memory. The chipset can use up to 224MB of RAM, and I'm a stickler for dedicated graphics RAM so that I have system RAM to dedicate to virtual machines.

Suspend problems

The system's biggest flaw is faulty suspend and hibernate, which has plagued Linux on laptops for some time. On several occasions, the laptop would not wake up from the Hibernate state at all. On at least one occasion, the laptop seemed to go into the Suspend state, but continued to consume power and depleted the battery overnight. Suspend is supposed to consume a small amount of power, because information is saved to RAM rather than disk, but it should not continue to consume power at a rate sufficient to drain the battery in one evening.

By default, the Darter's power management settings tell the system to blank the screen when the lid is closed rather than to suspend or hibernate the machine. However, even after I set the system to suspend when closed, rather than just blank the screen, it continued to have problems doing so -- and even when I put it in suspend mode manually. On the other hand, sometimes suspend worked just fine.

I've noticed a few other users complaining about the suspend issues on System 76's forum, so I'm pretty sure my situation is not unique. I also asked System 76 about this issue, and the company says that it's working with Canonical to improve support.

Install CDs and upgrades

One thing I'd like to see with the Darter is a restore CD that includes the company's drivers for the laptop. Right now, the system is supposed to ship with an Ubuntu Edgy CD (mine did not, but I got mine outside the normal supply chain) but the restore CD doesn't include the System 76 package that includes drivers for Darter. That means that if you decide to upgrade or reinstall Edgy Eft on the Darter for some reason, you'll need to install the system and then add the System 76 repository to the /etc/apt/sources.list file -- or just grab the driver package and install it manually.

The good news is that System 76 includes the URL for the restore instructions on its quickstart guide, and it's not a terribly difficult process by any stretch. It's certainly less onerous than the hoops one has to jump through to restore or upgrade the average Windows OEM system -- which requires re-installing Windows and then reinstalling drivers for several peripherals from separate CDs.

Final thoughts

Despite the issues with suspend, the Darter is a decent laptop. All of the remaining onboard peripherals seem to work fine with Linux.

The Darter starts at $995, with a Celeron M CPU and 512MB of RAM. As reviewed, the system runs $1,369, which isn't out of line for a Core 2 Duo-based system. If Linux laptops are on your radar, System 76's Darter should be on your short list.

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Comments

on Review: System 76 Darter laptop

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Darter laptop

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 31, 2007 03:43 AM
Way Costly! that too with a Celeron!! There are good laptops in the market with better prices!!!
Oh yes, Linux supported too!!!!

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Re: Darter laptop

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.80.134.157] on October 15, 2007 11:09 AM
Interesting! Where do you get that?

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Suspend and Hibernate on System76 laptops

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 02:26 AM
I bought Gazelle Performance in November 2006. It's a Dual Core laptop with Nvidia graphic card. Suspend and Hibernate don't work with open source nv driver. Both work with nvidia binary driver. I had the same spotty problems as mentioned in article until last kernel upgrade in February. No problem at all after that, my laptop is at uptime 46+ days now with at least one suspend/wake up cycle a day.

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Laptop with no suspend or Hibernate?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 02:26 AM
I do not see how you can put this on a "short list" when it has no functional suspend or hibernate ready to go out of the box. These are essential functions for any laptop to have and if not present renders the laptop, in my opinion, not worth buying

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Re:Laptop with no suspend or Hibernate?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 02:51 AM
I disagree. They're essential only for people who use them. I use two laptops every day and never use suspend/hibernate as I find it more of a pain, even when the two laptops had Windows on them and the functions worked.

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Re:Laptop with no suspend or Hibernate?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 03:24 PM
I agree suspend is an important function of a laptop. I looking for a little puppy and lately called folks at Linuxcertified for their LC2100DC and they told me yes, suspend is supported on their laptops. Any idea folks about this laptop?

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Battery Life?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 02:35 AM
What kind of battery came with your review system? What was the battery life you experienced?

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Re:Battery Life?

Posted by: Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier on March 30, 2007 03:23 AM
Three to four hours, which is what System 76 indicates on their Web site. Unfortunately, I haven't had the laptop long enough (say, six months) to really say how the battery will hold up.

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Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 04:20 AM
So, because of 80,000 anonymous and likely falsified "requests" for Linux PC's on a website, the Linux crowd would have Dell and the rest of us believe that there is enormous pent up demand for Linux PCs. Dell seems sceptical about the whole thing, some mumbo jumbo about market forces and actually making real money, blah blah blah. So, while everyone waits with baited breath for the infamous Dell Linux PC, Zonker offers us an alternative.

Enter The Darter System 76 which Joe openly states is an Acer barebones with Ubuntu preinstalled for only $1,369. Huzzah!!

But, let's compare that with a Dell laptop. Enter the Dell Inspiron E1405:
Intel Core 2 Duo T7200
2 GB RAM - That's 1 GB more than comes with the Darter.
14.1 Inch XGA LCD screen - That's one inch bigger than the Darter.
160GB 5400 RPM SATA Hard Drive. - WAY bigger than the Darter.
CD-DVD burner
950GMA Graphics Chip.
802.11b/g Wireless
Wired Ethernet
Vista Home Premium
Microsoft Works
McAfee AntiVirus w/ 1 YR subscription.
1 Yr. Warranty
And more!!!!

Plus(!) you can download and install the free Ubuntu Linux on it if you wish. The E1405 works fine running even Ubuntu 7.04 Fiesty Fawn, the soon to be released presently beta, latest version of Ubuntu.

All that for $1,277!

So, I get more laptop and software from Dell for less money. Much less when you make the specs identical. And with Dell I can dual boot Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux if I wish.

Why am I supposed to give Darter more money for less product? Because it has Linux preinstalled? Are you kidding me? I'm suppsed to pay more for less product simply because a completely gratis version of Linux is preinstalled?

You have got to be kidding me!

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 04:46 AM
I have used RHEL, Fedora, Ubuntu and Suse and they all suffer from poor fonts/rendering. Unfortunately Windows font rendering is much better. Linux is still not ready for mass adoption on the desktop although it is much improved than a few years ago.

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 07:03 PM
What??? I have no idea what you are looking at!

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 05:02 AM
"14.1 Inch XGA LCD screen - That's one inch bigger than the Darter."

Yeah. You can also get a 27" CRT television set for a few hundred bucks. That's way bigger than the Darter, and cheaper too.

SMALLER COSTS MONEY. Not everybody wants a luggable that can run fifty virtual machines with Quake. Thin and light is the name of the game. Dell tends to make clunky computers.

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If You Have A Point...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 05:28 AM
The Darter machine is an Acer barebones laptop. It is not an ultra small form factor system like a Sony Vaio.

Dell makes "smaller" systems like the Darter unit AND they are even less expensive than the unit that was used for the comparison so they negate your assertion. The "larger" system was chosen to demonstrate the fact that you can get more from Dell than from Darter and still pay less than the Darter System 76.

But, If you wish to spend more money with Darter and not have the larger screen, twice the RAM, twice the hard drive, Windows Vista Ultimate, Microsoft Works and more, then you go right ahead. Demonstrate to us all your sanctimonious stupidity. "Kahn, I'm laughing at the superior intellect!"

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 05:24 AM
Wrong. Screen size matters.

A more valid comparison would be between Dell's E1405 and System76's 14.1" Gazelle laptop. The Gazelle starts at $699; to match the specs posted above it would cost $1,355. Paying an $80 premium for a Linux laptop isn't bad, especially when you consider that System76 doesn't get the boatloads of kickbacks from software vendors to bloat the laptop with demo software like Dell does.

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 05:43 AM
Listen if you want to use Bitchta I mean VISTA dont post you comments here right.. this is a Linux forum. Nobody here cares about you or VISTA.

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Re:ASUS - Acer

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 12:33 PM
Read the atical. It stated it was a ASUS bare bones machine not a Acer....

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Why I'd buy Darter

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 03:41 PM

First off, you obviously didn't read the article carefully. It isn't an Acer. It's an Asus. Having proved to me that you don't pay attention to details in what you read, you then expect me to take your point-by-point comparison seriously.


But even if your comparison were valid, I'd buy Darter not Dell. With Darter, I get to save time: Linux is preinstalled. I don't have to check whether all the devices are Linux-compatible. Both of those are worth money.


But even without that, I'd buy Darter not Dell, because every time you buy Dell with a Microsoft bundle, you give money to Microsoft. Money which it will then use, in part, to try to destroy the Free Software community.


I don't expect that to be something you object to, because you don't value freedom. You're happy to let Microsoft own your data and tell you what you're allowed to do. A lot of people, probably a majority, think as you do.


But for those of us who don't, Darter deserves our business.

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Re:Why I'd buy Darter

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 13, 2007 01:37 AM
Actually the article is incorrect. The laptops are bought from Quanta (who also supply Asus, Dell, Apple, etc).

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Opps - Darter has smaller more costly screen.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 31, 2007 10:49 PM
The example above is not apples for apples... you really need to compare with the 12" Dell class of machines to do a comparision.

If you check with the prices on 12.5 inch and 13 inch class machines. You will see that Darter is competative.

Albiet - they are way out of line with the price of a OLPC (one laptop per child) laptop... that I really want... and/or an intel one that is comparable (except the Intel system does not have the battery life of a OLPC).

$200 - $250 for mobile email, web browse, etc and mobile laptop DVD viewing, would be about right. Of course with LINUX installed.

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WXGA and also had built-in camera Dell does not.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 01, 2007 12:39 AM
see:
<a href="http://www.asus.com/products4.aspx?l1=5&l2=24&l3=297&model=1142&modelmenu=1" title="asus.com">http://www.asus.com/products4.aspx?l1=5&l2=24&l3=<nobr>2<wbr></nobr> 97&model=1142&modelmenu=1</a asus.com>

The more expensive Darter configuration has a built-in camera, can get it without as well!!!

I think Darter has WXGA as well...?
ASUS Color Shine glare-type LCD technology,

Above is the Asus link to what might be the same machine as the Darter.

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 02, 2007 09:26 PM
Why am I supposed to give Darter more money for less product?


Less product? have you actually held one of the Dell consumer grade laptops in the E series? I have. They have a cheap, plasticy feel to them. You could give me one, but I certainly wouldn't pay for one...

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 03, 2007 05:19 AM
I don't know if those 80,000 requests were "falsified" and neither do you, but I'll tell you one thing, there are alot of us out there who would rather take our chances with linux than be screwed by microsoft, and we deserve to be treated fairly when we go to buy a computer. If you don't like that, then that's your problem! We in the linux community would not have you (or dell) believe anything, you can take your vista and jump off a cliff for all we care, but don't come whining to us just because dell is contemplating giving their customers more choices!

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Administrator on March 30, 2007 10:53 AM
The specs of the System76 machine may not be as good as the Dell but I would never buy that Dell as it is now.
1. It has the God forsaken pile that is Vista installed on it.

2. It comes with Microsoft works.

3. Anything McAfee makes is total trash.

So take yous Vista comments somewhere else.

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What women^H^H^H^H^H^ nerds want...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 03:02 PM
... is not "an OK laptop that is built for linux" but "linux to run on the laptop they choose".

Three laptops on, I have been lucky enough to get the linux flavour of the month up an running on each.
I have been much impressed by the improving support for "relatively standard" hardware such as USB(2) and Firewire. Many thanks to the hardworking coders who made that possible.
At the end of the day though, I buy a laptop for its capabilities. Its memory. Its graphics. Its sound. Its connectivity. If linux is not up to the challenge then it will get installed unoptimzed, limited or even gui-less and the amount of use it sees will reflect that.
Regardless of whether its linux or windows I will optimize it to get my work done. I will tweak it to make my play fun. It will have largely the same software fitout. Hell with modern VMs it may have the other OS running quietly in the background.
I will never buy a halfarsed bit of hardware kit just to "keep the faith" in the temple of Linux OR Windows.
You keep your hair shirts and your corporal mortification. I worship the god of "Life's Too Full Of Sh-t To Go Out And Buy More" and he has only one commandment:
Suffer not the fool who suffers intentionally.

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Your post does not make much sense

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 04:45 PM

I buy a laptop for its capabilities. Its memory. Its graphics. Its sound. Its connectivity.


The capabilities are not solely determined by the hardware. The capabilities are determined by the hardware+software combination. A laptop without any software is just a pile of electronic junk; it can't do anything.


But if the capabilities are all that matter to you, and you don't mind having your data captive to proprietary formats, etc, then there is no real reason for you to consider Linux. You don't need Linux, and Linux doesn't need you.

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Re:Your post does not make much sense

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 06:13 PM
Well I'm not captive to anything. Every tool I have available to me in my various unix environments I have in my Windows environments.
As an added benefit I am not captive to a piece of second rate hardware just because I want a "Linux Inside" badge.
The fact is I can run a workable Linux on a good quality laptop and if it doesnt support all the hardware (which is less and less the case), well windows will. Magic. Best of both worlds and I didnt have to join the flock and buy a crap laptop.
I dont get the opportunity at whining martyrdom, but thats ok. I have work to do.
What linux doesnt need is blind evangelism and being associated with poorly executed hardware.

A crap laptop is junk no matter what software you put on it.

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Re:Your post does not make much sense

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 02, 2007 09:40 PM
>> A crap laptop is junk no matter what software you put on it.

Did you just start using a computer this year? Today's hot stuff is tomorrow's crap. I take it you buy your laptops yearly or bi-yearly. If so, understand you are in the minority.

A older laptop with Linux can run better than a new laptop with Vista.

Also, like others have mentioned, open source and formats has added value. The reason Linux is growing so fast is because adding value (and using others work as springboards) is possible and is routine. Having that flexible software installed opens up a lot more vistas than does Vista (talk about marketing to hide what is actually there.. a lack of vistas).

A laptop with Linux is a better value in a lot of cases (maybe not for someone that lives for the moment and erases the past every passing year) than the same laptop with Vista. This is why some people are willing to pay for inferior hardware with Linux, because the total value is competitive or better.

Anyway, the monopolist is losing its grip on hardware vendors and soon (like now) people will be talking about how a lot more new hardware runs well with Linux than with Vista.

>> The fact is I can run a workable Linux on a good quality laptop and if it doesnt support all the hardware (which is less and less the case), well windows will. Magic. Best of both worlds and I didnt have to join the flock and buy a crap laptop.

Windows doesn't necessarily run hardware that Linux doesn't (even new hardware), and it certainly doesn't necessarily run it better or equal (sometimes it does). Anyway, you make sense except that you forget that the end product depends on both the hardware and software. Focusing only on the hardware will have you miss out in performance in cases where Linux on a weaker laptop (assuming it doesn't run on the top one) performs better than Vista/Windows on the newest.

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Re:Your post does not make much sense

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 03, 2007 09:57 AM
Sure, buy an older laptop. Fine.
This is not an older laptop. It is a brand new _overpriced_ laptop. This is not competing with 7 year old NEC's with PCMCIA NICs and proprietary interfaces to bizarre external hardware. This is competing with affordable mass produced notebooks with competitive and largely standardised features.

The people shopping in that price bracket arent going to think "Hey, I'll pay more so I can get linux!"

What may happen is, that people in the market for a new laptop and exploring the range will think "Hey, Linux laptops are under spec'd and over priced" and that is a damned shame because that really does undersell linux.

For info, I have been through 3 laptops. They have all been mid to lower range. They were all bought based on feature set and they all ran linux without a hitch.
Your comment about windows not having perfect hardware support just reinforces my position. If you have to deal with niggling issues ANYHOW, why not get something that is good value and well kitted out and deal with the issues to get whatever OS you desire working? As has been stated elsewhere in this thread, Darter could really make a distinctive place for itself by supporting THAT market rather than being a perpetual minnow in a market it cannot compete in.

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 03:08 PM
Ummm... so you would spend more money for a lesser laptop to avoid uninstalling software?

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 05:49 PM
You're missing the point. It is not about avoiding uninstalling software you won't use.

The point is to have an option.

Dell doesn't give you an option. It forces junk you DON'T want down your throat because THAT junk subsidises the laptop.

What you're saying - to give you an analogy - is that you're happy to live with the junk ad traffic that come your way when you use free Opera. That's why you will not pay for the ad-free commercial Opera.

Well, that's your choice and you're completely entitled to it.

However, for people who care about freedom, that choice is not a choice. Therefore, people who care about freedom use Firefox. Or Konqueror.

A choice like this may sometimes mean you get less for more effort. But that is not the point. The point is freedom and choice.

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 05:51 PM
BTW, I've always found it possible to negotiate with resellers. As a case in point, I have an Acer laptop that I bought with no OS on it. The reseller had the option of selling it with no OS and passed on the cost savings to me.

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 06:43 PM
Bub, Opera is AD-FREE for like... 2 years.

And BTW, using the almighty Open Source Firefox means you indirectly pay Google, through the search box, if you didn't know (same for Opera).

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 06:45 PM
I dont know how you do it, but when I install linux all that preinstalled "junk" just disappears. It doesnt come back. If you have MS Windows popping up like the ads in Opera even after you have installed linux then I honestly dont know whats happening.
And if Dell sells me the laptop cheaper for all that junk, well good. If they dont and they're still the best value for the kit, then also good. If they're not, I'll keep shopping.
What seems to be odd is I use all the software you use, I just have better choice of hardware and I dont choke on my own bile in the process.

A better analogy would be buying a car with free gps, but you have your own preferred gps rig. Maybe the free gps will sit on the shelf, or maybe you'll find a friend needs a gps. Maybe you'll have need to have both gps's installed. Who knows? Who cares? It doesnt really matter. You have the car you want, the gps you want, at the price you want

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Re:Linux - Doing Without.

Posted by: Administrator on March 31, 2007 02:18 AM
I couldn't have stated it better myself.

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ok i know what i'll buy for sure now

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 30, 2007 10:39 PM
I was asking myself questions about laptops designed to support Linux for quite some time now.
The main issues being, power mgt and wifi.

It seems it's not better than what i can achieve with a Dell i setup myself.
So what will i buy? A macbook !!!! that's for sure now.

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Re: ok i know what i'll buy for sure now

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.144.119.48] on November 17, 2007 01:13 AM
Yes, is true, you can buy a Dell and install your own ubuntu flavor BUT
for example I didnt want to buy from a company that charged me with windoes vista license, and make me
hassle to get my money back from a license i will never use . DELL is selling desktops with linux, and servers too,
but when i called them they say laptops no . so lets buy system76

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"Microsoft Works?" I thought it didn't! :-)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 31, 2007 01:43 AM
You're right about Windows Vista^H^H^H^H^HWistful. It is a big, steaming pile. But please, don't call that crapware "Microsoft Works", because it doesn't. Oh, except for screw up your files and system.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

Microsoft can...um...as the Brits say, go forth and multiply.

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$1000 (500 pounds) price barrier has to be broken

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on March 31, 2007 07:38 PM
I'm sorry, but the average person in the street isn't going to spend over $1000 for a Celeron laptop without a Windows licence, when that's the going price for a Core 2 Duo laptop with a Windows licence! I just bought an Acer 5633WLMI here in "rip off Britain" and it still cost me under 500 pounds and has a spec better than this Darter base model (yes, the Acer is a Core 2 Duo). It cost me only another 14 pounds to apply for a Vista upgrade, so I decided to do that as well.

Guess what? The Acer runs Ubuntu Feisty Fawn perfectly (wireless, suspend, hibernate, Webcam) and is clearly a better buy than the Darter. This is the quandry Linux users have - do we buy a major OEM brand with the option to dual boot with Windows (I use Windows to play games - it's the only thing Windows is useful for) at a cheap price or buy a more expensive, lesser-spec'ed laptop with no Windows capability?

Yes, we'd all like to support the OEMs that ship Linux pre-installed, but at the end of the day, charging significantly more for a worse spec isn't going to entice people to switch. This is why the recent Dell announcement about shipping Linux pre-installed is so important - if Dell can ship a laptop with Linux pre-installed for at worst the same price as an identical Windows one, then this will be a major seachange.

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Re:$1000 (500 pounds) price barrier has to be brok

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 02, 2007 07:44 AM
Great Comment

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Re:$1000 (500 pounds) price barrier has to be brok

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 03, 2007 04:08 AM
There are vendors who sell Linux laptops at great prices. Check <a href="http://www.linuxcertified.com/" title="linuxcertified.com">http://www.linuxcertified.com/</a linuxcertified.com> they are selling laptops starting $679. They have more choices too with multiple distros.

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Right on. $1000 can get a macbook with

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 03, 2007 01:11 PM
$1000 gets a macbook that has much better specs.

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Desktop Linux Vendor List

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 02, 2007 11:36 AM

<a href="http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/23168/" title="lxer.com">http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/23168/</a lxer.com>

<a href="http://lxer.com/module/db/index.php?dbn=14" title="lxer.com">http://lxer.com/module/db/index.php?dbn=14</a lxer.com>

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Snide Responses!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 02, 2007 09:18 PM
I bet it is snide comments like these replies that keep other OEMs from selling supported Linux desktop solutions. You guys are comparing apples to oranges. The topic of this System 76 review and that whole Dell petition is about getting a supported Linux laptop solution. Can you buy one? How much will it cost? In response, you have said, 'Why would you buy a Linux laptop when you can get a Windows laptop for cheaper?' Fair question in general, but not helpful in context of this Linux.com article. Right now you have one or two vendors selling Linux-supported laptops, so of course the price will be high without significant competition and a mature marketplace. This is a whole lot better than when there were no options at all. And yet, almost all the comments here poke fun at these options and laugh at those who might chose Linux over Windows. Where these few, brave companies should be embraced by those at Linux.com, they are getting these garbage comments, instead. Meanwhile, other laptop OEMs will find this article while researching whether they should also start selling the same service, and they'll conclude there is no market for Linux laptop sales.

Perhaps you can get a Windows laptop for cheaper from one of the thousands of Windows OEMs, then you can install your own Linux solution after the sale, but guess what - you'll have zero support on that expensive electronics purchase you made while you run an unsupported operating system. Maybe you all like throwing your money out the 'windows', but thankfully there are now options for people who want their purchases supported by the OEM who sold it.

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Re:Snide Responses!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 03, 2007 08:23 AM
.. And if one of these posts keeps a single OEM from releasing another lame piece of hardware with a "linux certified" sticker to cash in on the holier-than-thou market then that is a great thing for the world, and linux.

These things foster the impression that linux is a perfectly serviceable OS so long as you dont try to run it on anything other than generic base spec hardware.

People dont go out and buy laptops to nurture cuddly OEMs taking their first steps in the big bad world. They look for laptops with the features and capabilities they desire.

That is where linux should be. And it can be. The market is there for a _DISTRO_ tailored to mobile use and supported on a set of high end notebook configurations (from multiple vendors, why not?).
That is worth supporting. That is worth spending money on. That is something that promotes linux as the capable and supremely flexible operating system that it is.
Hell, even the notebook vendors might buy into it just to get the linuxheads off their back. If there was a startup interested in value-adding their hardware they might even learn to be helpful occasionally.

I am sorry, but small new players are never going to compete with the likes of Dell, Acer, HP etc in the ever changing hardware market, but they may well be able to make a very nice, specialized space in the OS support market.

I will gladly buy DarterLinux with support for .

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Feisty improved my suspend

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 03, 2007 04:53 AM
With Edgy I had to unload the sound and wireless modules before suspending, or else I would have to load and reload after coming back for them to work.

With some of the recent updates in Kubuntu 7 Feisty (and its 2.6.20 kernel) suspend works with no problem.

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Photo?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on April 06, 2007 10:10 AM
There are very few high-quality photos of the Darter online -- it would be great if the reviewer could add one to this article. Please?<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

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Way to expensive

Posted by: Administrator on May 17, 2007 11:49 PM
I didn't even know that the celeron is still around.

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Games Compatible with Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 167.154.64.190] on September 12, 2007 01:43 AM
What games are compatible to use on Linux?

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