I'm glad to say that my wife is a huge Linux fan. In fact, this is her second Linux laptop! (We've previously installed Fedora 8, and Fedora 9.) On June 14 2009, we upgraded her laptop to Fedora 11.
Here are the specs for this laptop (model 1875M2U, purchased 2005):
- Intel Centrino / Intel Pentium M 750 1.86 GHz
- 512 MB memory
- 60 GB @ 5400 rpm hard drive
- CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo
- 14.1" TFT active matrix XGA (1024 x 768) - 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
- Intel GMA 900 graphics
- Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG
First, I should mention that while I usually do a full "workstation" install from the Fedora DVD install image, this time I decided to do something different. I created a live USB from the Fedora 11 Desktop Edition.
Creating the live USB image was a snap. You can do this from within Windows or from Linux. In this case, I happened to download the Fedora 11 Desktop Edition image while I was at work (on a Linux laptop) so created the live USB from Windows. Since then, I've also created a live USB image from Linux, and it's just as easy.
I prefer not to do an "upgrade" of Linux; each time, I prefer to backup the user data, then completely blow away the system with a fresh install. Installing Fedora 11 was very painless. I went with a default install this time.
The installation process itself was very easy, although the installer barfed the first time through when trying to create my partitions. We let the installer use its own defaults for partitons, so I'm not sure what happened here. When we rebooted and went through the same process a second time without changing anything, everything worked just fine. Ah well.
Installation was very fast! I "timed" it using the clock in our kitchen, and I'd say it took about 20 minutes - that's booting the install USB, partitioning, rebooting, re-partitioning, installing, to rebooting into the finished system.
Because this is a laptop, it's important that the data be encrypted with a good (long) passphrase. Then, if the laptop should ever be lost or stolen, there's not much chance someone will be able to read personal data that might be on the hard drive. Just as in previous releases, the Fedora 11 installer makes encrypting your system very easy. During setup, just check the box to encrypt your hard drive, type in your passphrase, and the installer does the rest!
The graphical boot process in Fedora 11 got a lot of technical work on the backend. In Fedora 10, this laptop did not support graphical boot (despite using a fairly common Intel graphics chip.) But Fedora 11 booted graphically just fine. Fairly early in the boot process, you get a little password box. Type in your passphrase, and your data is unlocked. It's easy!
The boot process is also much quicker. I'd say the system came from BIOS ("power on") to login prompt in under a minute.
Sound is detected and supported just fine "out of the box" using snd_intel8x0. No problems here.
The installer did correctly recognize the video card, and the display. We didn't try using the 3D desktop effects (Sara doesn't like it) so I don't know how well the driver support accelerated 3D functions.
Getting wireless to work was simple. The installer automatically detected the ipw2200 BG wireless card, and added support for it. It all "just worked" with no tweaking. After the install, the Network Manager auto-detected all the wireless networks in our area.
The installer also correctly detected the wired network on this laptop, so when I later connected the laptop to our wired network, the laptop automatically configured itself to use that instead.
In Fedora 10, my wife complained that sometimes the wireless network would just "drop" (but reconnect on its own automatically.) Oddly, she reported this only happened once per login - if her connection dropped and reconnected, she was fine until she chose to shut down. Or, she'd need to wait a few seconds after login for Network Manager to detect our network, and get connected. * I can report that this problem does not appear to exist in Fedora 11. I guess they fixed it.
I didn't try the modem. We don't use dial-up Internet access, so it didn't matter to me if the modem was supported or not. I just haven't tried testing it, and I don't know that I will. Sorry.
The user environment is great. The web browser is Firefox 3.5 beta4. Yes, it's a beta version, but it seems to be very solid. We hit all the web sites my wife usually visits, and no problems. Actually, it seems a bit faster with the new Firefox, but it's hard to tell.
Thunderbird (email client) isn't installed by default, but I think that's been the base for the last few versions of Fedora. They give you Evolution instead. While I prefer using a webmail interface to access my email, but my wife really likes Thunderbird. A few clicks under "Administration" - "Add/Remove Software" and we were up and running with Thunderbird, no reboots required.
Since this is the "Live CD" edition (key phrase being "CD", about 700MB) you don't get OpenOffice installed by default. Instead, they give you AbiWord, which is a much smaller Word-like program. I asked my wife if she wanted me to install OpenOffice for her, but she had already opened up her old thesis documents (as a test) and said that was working fine, and more than enough for her. She is not a "power user" so I doubt my wife notices the difference between AbiWord and OpenOffice Writer.
Other stuff to do
Update your system: Before you do anything else, it is important that you update your software immediately after the install. This makes sure that you have the most recent versions of everything, in case there is a security flaw that needs fixing. When you login, a little dialog box will pop up and ask you to click a button to install all the updates. Do that, and let it run. Takes a while.
Turn off unnecessary services: When I've installed Linux in the past, I always made sure to disable unnecessary services, to make the system boot up faster, and to save memory. However, Fedora 11 has a new boot manager, so the system just boots fast anyway. I didn't feel the need to disable any services. I'm also treating this as an experiment, to see if perfornace really is affected by not turning off any services under Fedora 11.
As a result, I haven't even checked to see what services are running by default in Fedora 11. Your mileage may vary.
Linux and Wacom Graphire4: For her birthday a few years ago, I bought my wife a (USB) Wacom Graphire4 tablet. Getting it to work with Linux (Fedora 8) took about 10 minutes. Just follow the Linux Wacom HOWTO. Kernel drivers and such were already provided as part of the standard build, so I didn't have to do anything there. Plug in the Wacom, and the kernel module is automatically loaded.
Under Fedora 11, it's even easier. Just plug it in and go. It's automatically recognized.
My grade: "A"
- Correctly identifies the video card
- Supports the ipw2200 wireless card