Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

New laptop woes and thrills!

October 16, 2018

Well, I finally bit the bullet and bought a brand new laptop.  No it wasn’t from a pawn shop as with the Dell Inspiron N5010.  Actually I bought two per say.  Bought a new Dell Inspiron 5575 with an AMD Raven Ridge APU in it and had to return it for two reasons after a week of frustrations putting Linux on it.  First and largest reason I returned it was because I could not load Linux on it.  The second was what I describe below.  Prior to this Microsoft Windows 10 was on it.

Later investigation into the reason I returned the AMD Raven Ridge laptop found it had a BIOS (basic input output) issue which after a year had still not been fixed.  It seems the BIOS manufacturer and not Dell had screwed up.  Yes, that’s right Dell did not write their own BIOS for this system.  The BIOS IOMMU (input output memory mapping unit) failed to function with Linux.  Not only this but Linux could not even see the southbridge in the laptop motherboard.  The one time I was able to load a distribution of Linux on the system I had to do so in pure legacy mode.  It would not install with the UEFI enabled at all.  Well this made the laptop heat up as well as the power brick.  There is a work around for this but for me that was not an option.  Either it works correctly from boot or it is garbage.

Even more investigation into this issue found it to be a BIOS issue not just with Dell but other manufacturers as well.  I’m unsure at this time who wrote the BIOS for those other laptops (Lenovo and ASUS, there may be others).  It makes me wonder if there weren’t some backdoor shenanigans done or backdoor deals with another CPU manufacturer to make the Raven Ridge chip a disaster even a year after it’s initial release.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.  It actually has and the company behind it was fined heavily.

Anyway, I turned that laptop back into the place of purchase and walked out with yet another Dell.  This time a Dell Inspiron 7573.  Not that I wanted to go back to an Intel processor, but I was forced to by the fiasco of the Inspiron 5575.  I’m still learning this laptop and it’s functions.  It’s a 2 in 1 with a Kabylake quad core processor with Intel UHD 620 graphics.  The display is a touch screen FHD IPS technology display.  I like it much better than the Inpiron N5010 display even if it still has a 60HZ refresh rate.  It came with a 256 gigabyte Micron 1100 Sata 3 SSD and is suppose to support an Nvme drive or Intel Optane drive.  I’ve yet to find out for sure about this.  Haven’t pulled the bottom panel off yet to be sure.

With this laptop, I was able to load my favorite distribution of Linux.  KDE Neon loaded up without so much as an issue with secure boot and UEFI BIOS settings enabled.  It took me a bit to get everything back to normal (my normal setup), but here I am typing this to you from it.  What immensely surprised me on this laptop ((manufactured in 2018 (that’s right, this year)) that I purchased for just about $860 with taxes included, is that it even had one of the newest if not the newest Intel WiFi chips in it.  From what I’ve been able to ascertain it’s not only dual banded (2.4 as well as 5Ghz) but also has the 2X2 antenna.  Bonus!

I haven’t done a full battery test on it yet, but I’m pleased to say that under Linux this thing will do rather well.  Last night I watched approximately 90 minutes of video and didn’t even scratch the battery capacity.  It dropped to just 90% watching that video.  I’ve yet to throw a couple of 3 hour movies at it.  I’ll update this as soon as I watch Dune and Avatar (both director’s cuts) on it.  Back to back I doubt.

Couple of quick notes for those looking to purchase a laptop this year.  Some manufacturers are doing away with the numeric keypad on the 15.6 inch models to conserve space and lighten the load.  Thus key spacing is a bit wider on this laptop compared to my old one which had a numeric keypad.  For me it’s not a necessity as I learned to type back in 9th grade on a manual typewriter.  I’m still getting use to this keyboard on my new laptop and find myself backing up to correct errors.  However, my typing speed is improving quickly.  Other thing I’ve found is that this machine needs a new lock (cable security lock for when you’re away from the PC).  My old one just won’t fit the hole in this laptop.

Other than the aforementioned items, I’m thoroughly please now that I have a fully functional laptop again.  Now all I have to do is max this one out memory wise and possibly replace the Sata 3 SSD with a much larger Nvme drive.  That’s for yet another day though.  For now it does what I want without issue.

Also for those looking into a new laptop to run Linux, do your research carefully.  Make sure that you know whether or not they have fixed the Raven Ridge issues before purchasing the Raven Ridge laptops.  Sure the graphics are faster than the Intel built in graphics chip, but is it going to work without workarounds in Linux.  It was my original intent to have a faster graphics machine for a laptop.  However, we must all make trade offs to get our work done.

Yet another thing to look at is the WiFi chipset in your prospective new purchase.  Is it supported by the Linux kernel or are the drivers freely available?  The Raven Ridge laptop that I originally purchased had Atheros ath10k WiFi chipset.  That has readily available drives in most distributions of Linux.  Since I went back to an Intel machine, I got fortunate to not have a Broadcom chipset (which Dell has been known to use).  I have a very fast Intel WiFi.

My recommendations for those purchasing a new laptop for Linux is to look into Dell (they support Ubuntu), HP, Lenovo, or System 76 (they are now producing their own variant of Ubuntu called PopOs!) for your purchases.  Most of these manufacturers have great support.  Dell and HP let you download full service manuals for their laptops from my knowledge.  Lenovo and System 76 I’m unsure of.  If you don’t care for the trouble of doing your own install of Linux, Dell and System 76 are the best bets.  However, you’ll have to order those systems direct from those manufacturers.  Beyond that, you’re mileage may vary depending on the manufacturer of your laptop.  Also, do your homework before you make your purchase.  Once you purchase it, make sure the system BIOS is up to date while Windows is still on the machine (Windows does make things easier in this realm).

Hopefully this will help those that consider purchasing a laptop to run other than Windows on it.  At least it may help those who are considering dual booting or just jumping ship and leaving Microsoft behind like I did well over a decade ago.  Enjoy.

One thing I did forget to mention as I was writing this was if you should purchase a Dell system.  There is an item under the Dell menu in Windows 10 worth noting.  It’s called “System OS Recovery” that’s worth noting.  Should you want to wipe Windows 10 off your system, Do use this “System OS Recovery” prior to wiping the hard drive/SSD!  What it does is download the Dell image file for your system and writes it to a USB stick for later re-install or install after you decide to sell your laptop when replacing it.  Should you ever want to restore Windows 10, this is an invaluable tool.  Especially if you should sell your laptop at a later date to someone who is not familiar with Linux.

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Microsoft Window 10 Upgrade!

August 11, 2015

Ok, everyone has been hearing about Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade lately.  I’ve seen only one report that was written with any thought of looking deeply under the hood of Windows 10.  I’ve yet to read others.  Being an IT technician, I follow big business and their habits about upgrading operating systems and supporting them.  Thus is why I keep up with what Microsoft is up to.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine on Internet Relay Chat showed me a copy of a recent email he’d gotten about Windows 10.  I was rather dumbfounded to say the least and wasn’t sure if it were a hoax or not.  After reading it and Microsoft’s own “privacy statement,” I am even more shell shocked.  You can read this “privacy statement” in it’s entirety here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement/default.aspx

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  You’ll be just as shocked as I was.  If you think the NSA scandal was bad with your personal information and spying, you haven’t begun to understand government or big business.  This “privacy statement” as Microsoft is calling it is ripe for a class action lawsuit.  This is nothing more than pure invasion of privacy on the level of if not beyond what the NSA was doing before Edward Snowden released his informative information about what was happening inside the NSA.

Let me list just what they are collecting without their explanation of it.  You can go to the above link and find out their definition of the terms I use here under the section : Personal Data We Collect.

Name and contact data

Credentials

Demographic data

Interests and favorites

Payment data

Usage data

Contacts and relationships

Location data

Content

Taken individually or taken as a whole, wouldn’t you think twice before upgrading even if you could turn most of this collection process off?  I know I would.  Do you think Microsoft is going to do what they say with your personal information?  I don’t.  I’ll make the wager that Microsoft is going to not only use your personal information but SELL it in order to reap even more money (profit) off their monopolistic ways.

Ok, most of you won’t believe this and probably have already upgraded.  All I can say is YOU’LL BE SORRY!  Start looking for your junk mail and unk email to fill up beyond capacity and telemarketers to call more than usual.  This is only the beginning unless a class action lawsuit is brought against Microsoft.  Microsoft will NOT protect your personal data against government agencies unlike Google who has.  Microsoft and Uncle Sam are closely tied together at the hip.

For those that are still on Windows 7, stay put till AFTER this gets resolved.  Either that or join a growing number of people like myself who are moving away from Windows and to a lesser extent Apple to use open source software (FREE) and the Linux or BSD operating systems.  I know.  You’ll say it’s harder than Windows or Mac OS X.  Yes it can be so take it slow at first if you decide you want to drop kick Microsoft to the curb.

Here’s the upside of moving away from proprietary software: absolutely no cost for the operating system at all, more secure operating system (less virus prone and less spyware prone), faster updates than Microsoft [(first Tuesday of every month) whereas Linux and BSD update shortly after a security issue is found (usually within days not weeks months or years)], and many many more applications than Windows will ever have for you guessed it FREE.  The largest upside is that both Linux and BSD operating systems DO NOT collect personal data!

The ball is in your court now.  Upgrade or not.  Personally, I’ll NEVER look back at Windows again.  Even if I do it will NOT be Windows 10 and it will be run in virtual machine NOT my main operating system.  I’ve been on Linux (Kubuntu and Fedora Core) for over 8 years now full time.  I don’t know it all nor will I ever really know it all.  However, I’m happier knowing my system is secure and more stable than Windows (any variant) will ever be.