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SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 on Alienware Area 51 M5550 2.0g Intel Core Duo with a 256k Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 video card

I have been a linux user on laptops for about 5 years now and here's how it went on my cool new Alienware Area 51 M5550.

I loaded SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and the SDK which is available from http://developer.novell.com/wiki/index.php/Developer_Home because I need Apache, Eclipse, Tomcat, Etc... I ordered this Alien because I wanted a very fast Core Duo 2gig laptop that would run the XGL video sub system. If you want the SDK have the CD's downloaded and burnt (4). At the start of the install and select the checkbox for "Install Additional Media" and it'll prompt you for the first CD so it can read the index, then it'll continue. I chose to install ALL Gnome and KDE because I like many of the KDE tools & Apps.

Basically the install went perfectly, as all of my past SUSE loads did. (be sure to be on line after the install and "check for updates" and let it finish for all the latest bug fixes and drivers) This was my first load of SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED 10). I would rate the install and hardware detection as a 10 out of 10. It detected my Intel based WiFi card and the Gnome NetworkManager Applet works flawlesly for WiFi and my LAN. (haven't tried the Modem but I think it detected it properly)

The Gnome System Monitor sees my Core Duo processor as 2 CPU's and tracks and controls it flawlessly. I use the KPowersave module to control frequency scaling, etc. with no problems.

The screen is 1920X1200 and is the best screen I have ever seen on a notebook. F+F7 & F+F8 works to control the screen brightness. The install detected my video card and went out to Nvidia and downloaded the correct driver, sweeeeet! All the other hardware was setup properly without any tweeking.

There are many great things about SLED 10. Mostly everything just works! I don't have to be a sys-admin to get my job done. I need a Java and ColdFusion development environment, webserver, app servers, tunes, multinedia and communication tools and it's all included and supported. One of the best things about the SuSE is the XGL desktop! I've always been jealous of my Mac friends but no more ;-) I'm used to the "Cube" now and more productive for it... Check out youtube for XGL demo's from Novell. (no I don't work for Novell ;-)

The only negative I noticed was the terrible battery life with the standard 4 cell battery! About 1 hour... So I ordered a 6 cell and i'm up to 2.5 hours. Oh well, you can't have a 256k video card with it's own fan and still have great battery life, but 2.5 hours is acceptible. The KDE KPowersave Applet runs the power settings with no problemo' I saw Alienware also sells a 9 cell battery which should provide about 4 + hours of fun ;-)

Things that don't work: (some fixed)

Good article on adding multimedia functionality to SLED 10 (note: adding software from suse 10.2 like the article says *may* screw up your ability to get automatic updates from Novell, one of the best features, but adding DVD support won't hurt anything... Here Tiz: http://www.thejemreport.com/mambo/content/view/270/1/

UPDATE: Feb, 2008 – I have been unable, even with Novels help, to ever get the screen to switch to the external monitor. I have to reduce the resolution to 1024 X768 (projector size) then reboot with the projector or monitor plugged in and at login it’ll switch to only the external monitor or projector with no display on the laptop, very annoying…

Also, the laptop is now 1.5 years old now and the first battery died after about 6 months, and now the second one is causing problems when starting, nice.

Also, Also, I have had this laptop back for service twice while in warranty because of some sort of EMI in the mouse-pad that caused the cursor to periodically go crazy. Now after replacing the touchpad 6 months ago, IT’S DOING IT AGAIN! They won’t even warranty the part so after arguing with a supervisor they agreed to wave the labor and shipping and I have to send it back again…..

This laptop is fast with a great screen but built like cr*p and now that Dell owns them I get to talk overseas for all my issues ;-) Sweeeet !

I’m gonna buy a Thinkpad t Series which comes pre-loaded with SLED 10 ! Imagine that ;-)

P.Z. - Albuquerque, NM.



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