My new laptop

My Asus laptop (I bought it on January 2008) is slowly dying: it heats so much you can fry eggs on it, it is noisy and the hard-drive is damaged.

So, thanks to Igalia and its OLPI program (One Laptop per Igalian), after doing an exhaustive market research and interviewing everyone here in Igalia about their laptops (I’m picky with my purchases), I bought a new laptop: a ThinkPad T410s.

I’m really happy with my choice. I decided to go for a 14″ this time because this is not the typical 14″ laptop, it weighs only 1.7 Kg with the battery in and it is really slim. It is lighter and slimmer than my Asus 12″ laptop, has a Core i5 processor and a solid state hard drive. I’ve discarded NVidia from my requirements long ago when I realized I’m not playing demanding games anymore on my laptop and Intel gives less problems.

Everybody praises the ThinkPad’s keyboard but I was skeptical of some details which I was not used to in my previous laptops, the home/end/page keys on the right upper corner and the Escape on top of the F1. The Escape thing mainly! I am not a Vi user but it bugged me nonetheless. In this T410s that no longer happens! The Escape key is in the left of the F1 and is the height of two keys. Other changes are the Delete key, also 2-keys high now and the keys are a bit wider with a smaller gap between them.
The touchpad is awesome, I liked Asus touchpads but this one seems more responsive (it is multi-touch BTW, but I haven’t checked it out). Still, I’ve done what most people do: turned it off and use the trackpoint instead.

What about software, you say!? It came with Windows 7 kindly installed which I kindly replaced it with Fedora 13.
I’ve been an Ubuntu user since 2005 and I like it really much. I think Ubuntu has made really good things and always tries to innovate and make it easier for users. I personally have a more relaxed attitude towards these current discussions about Ubuntu/Canonical and of who’s a devil and who’s an angel inside the Free Software world and I understand several points from both parts; I haven’t changed due to these discussions.
So, the reason why I installed Fedora this time? I was curious. Fedora’s community seems to be a happy and active group of people and I wanted to check it out by myself. Also, while I like many of the UI tweaks Ubuntu introduces on every release, I wanted to try again the feeling of a cleaner GNOME and guess what: I’m liking it! (TM). On the other hand, I still feel like an outsider with RPMs and Yum and, overall, using a Debian based distro would make my job easier. Let’s see if I stick to Fedora for some time or switch again to Ubuntu in the end.

Here’s an advice someone once gave me and you might find it useful too:
CapsLock key as an extra Control: From GNOME’s keyboard preferences, change your CapsLock key to be an extra Control. You’ll feel the difference, your hands too, and when was the last time you actually used the caps key?

Here are some photos of it and my current desktop:

ThinkPad box on Twitpic ThinkPad just unboxed on Twitpic

ThinkPad closed on Twitpic Fedora clean GNOME desktop on Twitpic

Asus notebook webcam on Linux

Only yesterday I finally decided to take the time to try to set up my Asus X20s webcam, and it didn’t take as long as I was expecting!

After searching a little I found the French ubuntu-fr website that had the tutorial.

The webcam in my laptop is a Syntek one which also is inside a bunch of other Asus models.

So, here are the steps that worked for me:

  1. Check the table in the ubuntu-fr website under the section Compabilité to check your model. Mine is a X20s and is NOT on the table so, maybe yours also isn’t, this means the best way is to check the USB Id. Just execute the command:
    $ lsus
    on a terminal and you should see the Ids of your connected USB devices. Check for an Id present in the Compabilité table (first column). Mine was 174f:6a33.
  2. If you ain’t got yet the linux headers, install them by running:
    $ sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`
    Also, you’ll need subversion and build-essential (but it is likely that you already have it installed if you’re a developer):
    $ sudo apt-get install build-essential subversion
  3. Now that you’re all set, create a folder (I suggest the name “syntek”) which will contain the driver’s source and checkout the source from the SVN repository:
    $ mkdir syntek
    $ cd syntek
    $ svn co
    (the last command above are to be considered only one line. It was screwing my website layout 🙂 )
    Warning for non-geeks: You’ll see a bunch of stuff on the console output and be asked to accept something, just enter “t” and you’re done.
  4. Now enter the driver folder and download a special Makefile:
    $ cd driver
    $ wget
  5. Once you get it, compile it and install it:
    $ make -f Makefile-syntekdriver
    $ sudo make -f Makefile-syntekdriver instal
  6. Assuming the compilation and installation were successful, load the module:
    $ sudo modprobe stk11xx
    This might take a little but after it’s done your cam must now be able to fly!
  7. In case you want to check if the system is recognizing the camera now, just use the commands:
    $ dmesg |tail
    $ sudo lsusb -v|grep -A 8 Syntek

    And check the Syntek related output.
    The webcam module will be loaded automatically the next time you restart your system so, no worries.

Now you’re ready for the wonders of your nice webcam! Check Skype options for the Video settings, it should now have found the Syntek driver and give you the “test” option which you can have fun watching your face when you cannot solve that damned bug!

And that’s all folks, hope it was useful. Have fun and let me know if you missed anything or if you find a bug in this tutorial.