27/11/2008

Serendipity? (Part 4)

Some readers may know of my recent fun getting my laptop, and getting it up and going. I've been using the laptop some more now, and I'm finding more and more things to like about it and its setup. It's a really neat laptop, and I consider it quite a bargain.

I finally got around to setting up Ubuntu 8.10 on it. Despite my struggles with its installer, I now have a fairly ‘standard’ crypto setup, wherein hibernation actually works (after a couple of false starts). This is a biggie to me: I run my last laptop 24/7 because there isn't a good way to hibernate it, and this is not good for the laptop's longevity. Heck, my last laptop is only 11 months old, and it looks twice its age.

What I mean by ‘standard’ crypto setup is one that's quite similar to that created by the Ubuntu installer: namely, a big crypto partition that houses an LVM physical volume, within which you set up all your logical volumes. This is quite an improvement on the old, hacky way I set up crypto on my laptop, which was to set up a big LVM physical volume, with each logical volume encrypted separately. The old setup is bad because that means that the LVM data structures are unencrypted, and also that the logical volumes are not transparent: you'd have to know to decrypt them on each use. Evidently, too, it is also bad enough to prevent hibernation from working.

Both my old and new laptops have nVidia graphics cards in them, though the old one has a (apparently) dinky GeForce Go 6100, whereas the new one has a GeForce 8400M GS. This means that while the old laptop can't really do a very good job of using Compiz (at least without freezing the computer on occasion), the new one just breezes through it.

I've installed VMware Workstation 6.5 on the new laptop (since getting 6.0.5 to work on Ubuntu 8.10 is a huge pain, you'd have to hack vmmon to make it work with 2.6.27 kernels), and it's neat (even though I detest having to use their installer). I can run two virtual machines simultaneously without having one stall the other excessively (as has happened with the old laptop); this is a big deal given that:

  1. They both use a fair amount of memory (2 GB and 1 GB respectively)
  2. I run them with all memory allocated in host memory; this is because the virtual machines are fairly disk-intensive and I don't need VMware's memory swapping to add to that load
  3. Both laptops has just 4 GB of RAM (since it only has two DIMM slots, and 2 GB DIMMs are the biggest affordable type you can get; 4 GB DIMMs are hugely expensive)

Oh, but on using virtual machines, the most useful thing about the new laptop is that the wireless card (Intel PRO/Wireless 4965, as opposed to the old laptop's Broadcom BCM4311) supports promiscuous mode. This means I can have guests use bridge mode networking; previously, I'd have to set them all up to use NAT mode.

So yes, that's my initial impression after a day of using the new setup on the new laptop. So far, I must say I'm very impressed; I look forward to more pleasant surprises! :-)

No comments: