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Hotrod Your Asus Laptop With 64-bit Kubuntu - page 2

Horsepower Junkie Needs a Fix

  • December 22, 2008
  • By Rob Reilly

As with any hot new ride, Kubuntu installed in the new Asus laptop has made me a happy man.

I'm talking hot in the context of performance, not heat. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to sit this laptop on my lap without scorching the tops of my thighs. As a matter of fact, I can lift up the front and press the back of my hand against the underside of the case, without any discomfort. There is also a removable cover over the processor that will allow vacuuming out the heat sinks once in a while. Lack of heat doesn't hide the fact that this thing is very fast.

I like to fly the A-10 Warthog, in FlightGear. The program loaded without problems and worked flawlessly with my antique Sidewinder Precision 2 joystick. I engaged the 'Show FPS' animation under the Kwin Desktop Settings menu and was able to run at a respectable 60 frames per second, with FlightGear, Firefox, and OpenOffice.org Writer all going at once.

As you might imagine, I had a bunch of data on my old HP Pavilion disk that I needed to put on the new machine. The simple solution was to pull the disk out of the dead laptop and put it in a Sabrent SATA and IDE 3.5 inch to USB 2.0 aluminum drive enclosure, from CompUSA. I used a 2.5 inch to IDE adapter board to mate the laptop drive to the new disk drive box. Be aware that many laptop disks pull more than the 500 milliamp rating of a pure USB connection. The Sabrent is made for regular sized drives and so has its own power circuitry and wall wart. It will also work without any special drivers. When it is plugged in and powered up, all the partitions on the external drive are immediately visible in the Dolphin file manager. I had no trouble uploading my old data to my new laptop drive. The old Windows XP partition could also be seen and accessed. Make sure you correctly plug the 2.5 inch drive into the adapter, otherwise it will show up as /dev/sdb in the system log and you won't be able to mount it.

I'm in the process of consolidating all my music and photo files, so recently bought a Western Digital 500 GB USB external drive. Just as with the Sabrent enclosure, the thing worked simply by plugging it into an available USB port. No drivers or fussing with settings. I think the $89 price (from major retailers) is probably about as low as it's going because everybody is pushing the 750 GB and 1 TB drives now. Get 'em while they last.

My only big gripe about the whole exercise is that the CD/DVD seems to have issues. It worked under Vista and for doing the installation of Kubuntu, but I've had trouble getting K3b to recognize media and can't play audio CDs. I think it must be permissions or a bug and not the hardware. Perhaps readers will have some suggestions.

Absolutely No Buyer's Remorse

After about a week of evaluation, I'd say that if you need a new laptop, you can't go wrong by teaming up the latest version of Kubuntu and the Asus X83-VM. The fit and finish is great. It's light and has a bright 14 inch screen. Kubuntu has done a great job with the desktop applications and hardware recognition.

This has been one of the easiest installations I've been through in a long time.

And, just like the first time I took my 406 cubic inch, Chevy powered, '48 Willy's Jeep out for a spin, I'm driving this laptop around with a huge smile on my face.

Rob Reilly is a consultant and freelance technology writer. His interests include Linux, anything high-tech, speaking, and working with conferences. You can visit his web page at http://home.earthlink.net/~robreilly.
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