My new laptop

A week ago I bought myself a new laptop. An HP Pavilion dv1000 in fact, in its dv1049 flavour. Came preinstalled with Windows XP, not that I care; I took it out of the wrapper, plugged the battery in, plugged in the mains cable, and put the Ubuntu Hoary install CD in. Never booted the XP installation; I run Ubuntu Linux, me. That all installed pretty much perfectly; there were a couple of small bugs (7536 and 7571 are they); I admit that #7536 is a showstopper, but it only applied because I’d never booted anything at all on that machine (so the clock was wrong) and they’re fixing it now anyway, so that’s OK.

In short, it’s a lovely machine. It’s got a 14” widescreen layout; “widescreen laptop” is actually marketing speak for short screen, but I don’t mind that; it makes the laptop smaller and more portable, and that’s exactly what I want. Built-in wireless, very nice.
It also doubles as a DVD/VCD player, not by loading one once the OS is loaded, but straightaway; if you boot the machine with a DVD in, it plays that DVD straight away (10 seconds, apparently, from boot to playing). The best thing about this is that this function is a 200MB partition on the drive (so don’t delete it when you blow away XP for Ubuntu!) which is actually a small Linux install! Nice one HP; this sort of thing is an ideal use of Linux. If that were, say, a very cut down Windows Media Centre, it would have cost them loads in licence fees. A small Linux distribution costs them nothing, and can just be dropped on the drive. I suspect that it’s not entirely open, though, since it can play DVDs—I keep meaning to look at it and work out whether it uses libdvdcss or what.

Anyway, I really like it. A couple of tiny niggles; the touchpad seems to think that a one-finger tap is actually a two-finger tap. This is bad, because a two-finger tap means the middle button. I don’t know whether that’s a fault on the touchpad or a consequence of me having fat fingers, but I fixed it by adding

Option          "TapButton2"            "1"

to the “Synaptics Touchpad” section of /etc/X11/xorg.conf, which fixes it. Similarly, I can’t seem to get the corners to work as different buttons, which is annoying; synclient -m 100 shows that I’ve got the parameters for RightEdge etc correct (well, Ubuntu got them correct, anyway), but it’s not recognising a tap to the right of RightEdge and above TopEdge as a corner. Don’t know what’s up there, and it’s not really a major issue. The PgUp/End/Insert/etc keys are in a weird place, but I don’t actually think it’s weird; it’s just different to my work laptop. I wish people would standardise on these; I get no muscle memory as to where those keys are, which slows me down, because they’re totally different on this laptop and the one at work (another HP!). Other than that, it’s bleedin’ great. I am well, well pleased with it, and well pleased with Ubuntu Linux for now being at a stage where it just supports everything on a laptop. Yay!

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