Thursday, August 30, 2012

HP 8760w Unboxing

I just received my HP EliteBook 8760w.  This thing has the biggest power supply adapter I have ever seen.  It's over twice the size of every other adapter.  It can be used as a weapon (and probably will, but more on that later).

I like a manly laptop.  Thus far, it is a very manly laptop, largely as it is very large.  Incredibly large.  About the size of my Hyundai large.  It's the land yacht of laptops (no, HP, you can't use that as an ad slogan).  Although it does weigh slightly less than my Hyundai, most people would say it is very heavy.  That's what makes it manly (that and the humongous 17" screen).  I mentioned it was a bit heavy: my wife tried to lift it, failed, and stared wide-eyed in agreement.  Again, this is a desktop replacement laptop, not a litebook.

Since the laptop is so bloody wide, they managed to put in a keypad and a really interesting backlit keyboard.  Of course I'd prefer the keypad on the left but that's because I'm a lefty (I do have an external USB number pad).   There is a laptop bag on order but I don't anticipate a lot of travel with this computer.

As you well know, I like things done a certain way, which makes ordering a laptop an exercise in frustration (but hopefully an exercise in hilarity for you).  All I really wanted was a large, manly linux laptop.  This, of course, was strictly impossible.  The success of ordering linux on a computer is approximately slightly less than the success of a voting a libertarian into the White House.  And even if you succeed, it's the wrong distribution of linux (although Dell will preinstall Ubuntu on certain models).   So I had no choice but to pay the Microsoft Tax and get Windows 7.  Yes, regardless of whether you are going to use Windows or not, you pay for it.

Since I occasionally have to use Windows for work, I figured I'd leave it installed and dual-boot with a real operating system (Xubuntu 12.04).  In the past I have just run Win XP virtually under linux, where it is more stable.

I started the task by booting into Win 7 and setting up the laptop for Windows use.  I was immediately reminded of why I hate new computers by HP's painful (and offensive) setup routine.  I realize HP needs to make everything as Idiot-Proof as possible, but apparently HP isn't aware of Murphy's Corollary which states "If you make something idiot-proof, they'll just make a better idiot."  In fact, at work we refer to ourselves as The Home of the Better Idiot.  Perhaps they should have a selection for Live Brain Cell Install, which would cut out the BS.

And speaking of BS, do you have any idea how much crapware comes with an HP laptop?  To be fair, the great amount of it is HP crapware, but still....  one of my favorite utilities, Revo Uninstaller, got put to work for the better part of an hour.  I removed such things as HP QuickWeb, HP Setup, HP Wallpaper, HP Defaults, HP Connection Manager, HP Client Automation Agent Preload, File Sanitizer for HP ProtectTools, MS Silverlight, Office 2010, and the ubiquitous Bing Bar (go Bing yourself).  I began to wonder if blowing out the entire laptop and reinstalling Win 7 would take less time.

Dear HP:  We aren't idiots.  We don't need our installs managed.  Some of us don't even need our security, tools, or internet connections managed.  Really.

Once that crap was out of the way, another software favorite from the past came in handy: Hijack This. Hijack finds all the startup crap, browser crap, and services, allowing you to select what really starts up.  Normally this barely fills a page.... the HP list filled three pages.  Three pages of crap that didn't really need to be started up with the computer.  I'll bet Windows starts up much faster now....

Prominently figured on the list of people who need to be seriously punished is the Microsoft guy who decided that sound must be enabled by default.  If I want to hear a DING every time I do something, I'll stay at work all day.  XP didn't even allow you to turn sound off until it was completely installed, which drove many a technician up a tree.

Making Win 7 usable for me involves another long stretch of hard labor.  It's not so much an operating system as a virus.  Sometimes for fun, I bring up Services and randomly turn stuff off.  It's just that there are so damn many of them... starting with Firewall.  And Themes.

Apropos of nothing, Firefox just updated on my desktop and informed me that it was incompatible with ZoneAlarm so it was shutting it down.  WTF?  I don't have these issues on linux.

At this point, it was time to play with the hard drive partitions and install linux.  I booted the Xubuntu cd into live mode and opened Gparted.  I wound up with Win7, HOME, and linux system partitions.  I told it to install linux and a few minutes later, I had a dual boot laptop.

What I neglected to specify was that I wanted a functional dual boot laptop.  When I went to go into linux, I got all sorts of screen scrambling, which got fixed in recovery mode.  Once in Xubuntu, I saw the notice indicating I had 267 updates to download and that it had discovered some proprietary drivers (ATI/AMD FGLRX).  During the live cd boot, it discovered the webcam.  No word yet on what's going to happen with the fingerprint reader.

Bravo for linux: the OS had discovered not only my video card, but bluetooth and the wireless chip.  This wasn't always the case, requiring lots of jumping through hoops to get things to cooperate.

True to form, I'm having trouble with the touchpad.  Every laptop I have had recently has discovered the touchpad ok but the cursor jumps around like mad.  I know there are a few solutions for this so it's time to go looking.  The first solution is to (as root) type `syndaemon -t -d'.   Seems to be helping.

At this point, the laptop was fully functional with both OSes.   More as I find it.


The screen is beautiful.  And large.  The audio seems plenty loud and of good quality, although I still need to test it with some decent input.  So far it's been streaming stuff.

I don't expect to use the battery too much, if at all.  And good thing, as 20 minutes of low-quality streaming video ate about a third of the battery.

No comments:

Post a Comment