My mom asked me to order her a new laptop but she was on a budget. So I picked the Dell Inspiron 1501 with 1GB RAM and an AMD Sempron 3500+. It came with Vista, but my mom is’ not much of a computer person. She still uses Windows 95 on a Pentium 60 🙂 So the idea of teaching her Windows Vista scared me as I would have long nights trying to support that.
I then bought a copy of Windows XP Home, as I figured this would be easier to support over the phone. Then I kept thinking, why not go with Linux? Could it be any harder to support than XP or Vista? Actually, it isn’t. I wouldn’t have to worry about her machine getting infected with viruses, or any of the other windows type hacks.
I found this wonderful site on how to get Ubuntu running on the Inspiron 1501. Everything seems to work: wireless using ndiswrapper drivers, the Canon PIXMA IP6310D USB printer works using drivers from TurboPrint, the display works at the native 1200×800 using open source ATI drivers, though I don’t get to use compiz which is fine. Suspend and hibernate work as well. I even got flash, and music support. So far this is a great looking setup.
I did opt for a dual boot scenario with Windows XP Home on a 15GB partition, but that’s a “just in case”. The sad thing is, Ubuntu was easier to install and get working than XP was. 🙂
One last problem I have to solve is the modem. The laptop has a Conexant onboard modem. I’m not sure if my mom will be willing to ditch dialup 🙂 strictly for the price: $4.97/month vs. $25/month for DSL. But the ease of getting on the internet and me supporting here with SSH would make it worthwhile.