Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Early Christmas Present

Notice: This is a super geeky post. Some friends and family may wish to turn away...

I was reading the Washington Post Weekend flyer last week, and I decided to give myself an early Christmas present this year. My eight year old Dell laptop--named Raptor--is just too... darn... slow.

A couple years ago, I gave Raptor a new lease on life when I gleefully wiped out Windows XP and installed Ubuntu. This alone increased its performance two-fold. That's a pretty huge difference, considering its meager Pentium M processor and 512 MB of memory. It's amazing what well written software, plus the lack of anti-virus software, software firewalls, anti-adware software, and all the Windows Updates garbage can do for a system. Ubuntu just doesn't need all that overhead to keep itself safe from malicious software. It's a much better operating system, and I've loved using it for the last two years. (And it's FREE!)

But alas, hardware becomes obsolete, and eventually fails. My photo editing in Gimp was taking lots of time to load up and process, and with my laptop being so old, my first bona-fide hard drive failure must be lurking in the very near future. I'm WAY overdue for a crash, and I don't want to lose anything, especially precious family photos and videos. Mind you, I have a very regimented backup policy, but there is still a possibility of losing data between weekly backups.

So, with Raptor being eight years old, and my hardware rationalizations firmly in place, it was a pretty easy decision (and pretty easy to convince Becky) to get a new machine. The old laptop will continue to run Linux, but will probably be more for the boys to use.

Dell was having some Black Friday specials, so I pounced. I ended up getting a middle of the road model, a Dell Studio 15. This was the perfect balance between performance and price, and will be a big improvement over my current machine.

The Studio 15 sports a whopping 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2MB level 2 cache. This is nice because it's 64-bit processor, so I should be able to take advantage of the newer operating systems that support 64-bits.

The laptop comes installed with 3GB of RAM, a 15 inch display, and a 250 GB hard drive (a big increase over my 60 GB drive on Raptor).

Unfortunately, it also comes installed with Windows Vista, which I will not even boot up. I hate Windows, and will not even have it dual partitioned on my new laptop. I've already downloaded the 64-bit version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex (happily provided by my alma mater), and I will reformat the hard drive for the "ext" filesystem first thing out of the box. Well, maybe I need to boot it one time, just to check that everything works and to pull off all the pre-installed Dell manuals that they usually stick on their new laptops. But that's it!

This laptop also has an upgraded 85 WHr Li-ion battery, an 802.11n wireless card, an 8X dual layer CD/DVD burner, and an integrated Web camera (so I can start my own episodes of Lonelyguy--Purcellville edition).

I'm pretty excited to get the new machine. Now I just need to come up with a good name for it. Perhaps "Falcon" in keeping with the raptor theme.

Any suggestions?

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