Originally Published: Monday, 3 January 2000 Author: Jessica Sheffield
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

The Portable World: Linux on Laptops

If you're reading this site, you have a pretty good idea that most of us think that Linux is one of the best things since sliced bread. In fact, chances are good that you agree with that proclamation. Hey, everyone knows that Linux is great for servers, and it's becoming more widely accepted as a desktop solution. But the lingering questions have always been, "Can Linux work on laptops? Can it deal with power management issues and embedded systems? Can it deal with a different architecture? Can Linux be on-the-go?"

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The Next Big Thing?

If you're reading this site, you have a pretty good idea that most of us think that Linux is one of the best things since sliced bread. In fact, chances are good that you agree with that proclamation. Hey, everyone knows that Linux is great for servers, and it's becoming more widely accepted as a desktop solution. But the lingering questions have always been, "Can Linux work on laptops? Can it deal with power management issues and embedded systems? Can it deal with a different architecture? Can Linux be on-the-go?"

The answer is now a resounding, "Yes!"

Everybody Else Is Doing It

One only has to look around to see the prevalence of laptops in today's computer culture - the smaller, thinner, and longer-lasting, the better. Every high-powered executive has one, but laptops are no longer limited to the upper crust of the computing world. Lower prices and higher quality have enabled laptops to filter down the salary ladder until even students can afford a portable computer of some type. And if students are using laptops, you can bet support technicians, developers, and graphic artists, to name a few, are already on the bandwagon. This infiltration of the geek culture by laptops can only lead to one thing...

But I Want To Do It My Way

Yes, folks, that's right. I'm talking about everyone's favourite operating system on everyone's favourite piece of carryon luggage. The very things that make Linux great for desktops - stability, networking, and of course, choice, make it an excellent solution for someone who's on the go. Once you get Linux working on your laptop, the possibilities are endless. But therein lies the challenge, for even the most seasoned user. Laptops are simply different animals than desktops, and require special care. With all the attention people pay their laptops, though, this shouldn't be a problem... right?

How To Adopt A Linux Laptop

There are an increasing number of resources on the web for the installation of Linux on your laptop. One of the best is http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/kharker/linux-laptop. It's a site by Kenneth Harker, a student with a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. Kenneth has compiled what may be the most comprehensive list of Linux-for-laptops resources on the web. The site is up-to-date at press time, the "Last Updated" tag near the top of the page read '19 December 1999' - and it is expansive. It includes a long list of laptop manufacturers and models with links to howtos by other authors, a "Notebooks and XFree86" section, information on various components in laptops and notebooks, and many others. The section that most interested me is the "Volunteer Support Database", which, in Kenneth's words, "is an attempt to match those people who use the Linux operating system on notebook or laptop computers and who wish to give back to the Linux community and help other users with those people who have questions, problems, or concerns about getting Linux running on their mobile computers." Check out the site - if you have any questions regarding laptop installations of Linux, chances are the answer is found there.

Care And Feeding of Your Linux Laptop

From what I've heard, maintenance of a laptop in Linux isn't difficult... it's the installation that's hard. Once you get past that, the rest is a breeze, or so I've been told. I certainly hope they're right, because tomorrow I'm taking the plunge. I'm armed with a copy of Linux Mandrake, Kenneth Harker's site, several Fine Manuals, and lots and lots of caffeine. My Toshiba Satellite 305 CDS (incidentally, one of the few specific models not found on Kenneth's site) will never be the same again. I hope.

Into The Jungle

Progress reports will be provided at various intervals. If you're considering installing Linux on your laptop, I hope you can take encouragement from my efforts (especially if it's easier than I fear). If you're already running Linux on your laptop, please drop me an email at starlady@linux.com and tell me the manufacturer, model, distribution, and how well it's running, in addition to any specific problems you encountered in installation that you'd like to warn others of. Also, if you're interested, go to Kenneth's Volunteer Support Database site and add your name to the list of folks who are helping others turn their laptops into Linux machines. It's a worthy endeavour and a great way to get involved.

starlady will return in "Taking the Plunge: Installing Linux on a Laptop"
Linux Mandrake is (c) 1999, MandrakeSoft. Toshiba and Toshiba Satellite are (c) 1999, Toshiba Corp.




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