Choosing the best OS for my ThinkPad X300Written on February 5, 2009
Exams are finally behind me, although it was a relatively calm period. I even had the time to complete the Grand Theft Auto IV main storyline. We now have a short intersemestrial break so I can spend some time with my girlfriend and my ThinkPad! After installing the Windows 7 beta and openSUSE with KDE4, I decided to welcome GNOME again. This discussion comprises the main part of this article. I also made some modifications to this website.
First, I changed my Portfolio.
When first starting this website, the idea for the web design section was to contain useful tips and tricks in the development of websites.
That may still be the case. But for now, I present to you my portfolio of previously designed websites.
I searched around some old archived files trying to find a few screenshots of them.
Most of these websites are quite old and my skills were rather limited, so don't expect too much of them.
Second, I rearranged my Blog. Articles are now categorized by year and a short description is given for each article.
Third, I've cleared out the homepage with the latest updates. Instead I've added a welcome text and my most recent blog entry.
Windows 7 beta
A few weeks are passed since Microsoft released the official beta of Windows 7.
It is still available for download at the Microsoft website.
Because Microsoft confirmed that power comsumption will be better addressed, I installed it on my ThinkPad X300.
Although I've used Windows 7 for about two weeks, I didn't notice any substantial power savings.
In my opinion, Windows 7 addresses power as good or as bas as Windows Vista.
Luckily my ThinkPad X300 is equipped with an Ultrabay. This means I can swap out my optical drive for an optional bay battery. See YouTube for a quick and easy installation. Such a battery costs about $100-$150, which isn't too expensive if you can double your battery runtime.
The user interface of Windows 7 preserves the Vista look with some slight changes that should maximize daily efficiency. The taskbar has undergone a facelift, that's for sure. Some important changes are:
- Running applications are no longer displayed by their name, instead a large icon is used. When multiple instances are active (e.g. multiple firefox windows), tabs are used to save some space. I think Microsoft was inspired by Mac OS X at this point.
- As in Vista you can hover the taskbar's items to display thumbnails. In Windows 7, hovering these thumbnails peeks at its corresponding window on the desktop.
- Another important change is the introduction of 'jump lists'. For instance right-clicking on the Word icon gives quick access to recently used documents.
- The taskbar's system tray has also been improved with regard to the useless icons and annoying notifications.
For more information about the enhanced taskbar, check the MSDN blogs here.
Microsoft has also incorporated their growing family of Live services.
And the annoying UAC (User Account Control) in Vista has in Windows 7 been equiped with four different levels.
I don't know how this influences security, because I turned it off immediately.
Conclusion: it looks like Windows 7 will be the OS that Vista should have been. However I don't know if that's good or bad news.
openSUSE 11.1 with KDE4
I am an avid GNOME user, however I can't deny the fact that KDE4 looks quite pretty. So I installed openSUSE 11.1 with KDE4 to test it out, but... I had lots of configuration problems:
- When starting/stopping X, my screen first went black and then became filled with noise. After a few seconds of random pixel values in various shapes, KDE4 was finally loaded. I inspected and reinstalled my video card drivers, without succes. I even altered some configuration files, but again the problem remained.
- KDE4 first loaded with huge fonts.
So my first guess was a incorrect setting.
I checked this via Appereance > Fonts and subsequently decreased all font sizes to 8.
Nothing happened, even after a complete reboot.
I checked my settings again and the solution was obvious, although I didn't notice it the first time.
Fonts could be forced to 96 DPI instead of the default 120 DPI.
I also got the setting enabled for GTK application fonts to be the same as those of KDE4. However OpenOffice, Firefox and some other applications still had different font sizes.
- Wireless was working properly untill I installed some VPN packages. First I was unable to set up a VPN connection that is obliged to access the internet at university. But another major problem occured: the KDE4 network manager went completely down. Even a reboot couldn't fix te problem.
- I also had some audio driver problems that I was unable to fix.
So my ThinkPad doesn't respond very well to KDE4. In fact it seriously lacks support for this laptop. All these problems made me think of good old GNOME again.
openSUSE 11.1 with GNOME
But will GNOME be the best OS for my ThinkPad X300? I decided to waste some more time. And guess what? GNOME was installed in about 30 minutes. And I still haven't encountered any problems. No huge fonts, no video card or audio driver problems, and even my wireless works perfectly (including setting up a VPN connection). What else you want?
The pre-installed Windows Vista worked fine but had two drawbacks: many useless programs were also pre-installed, and a 32bit version can't address 4GB of memory. A 64bit version and a clean install of Windows 7 solved these problems. But of course installing this beta was just for testing purposes. The linux distribution openSUSE 11.1 is a great and free OS, definitely a must. KDE4 doesn't fit my ThinkPad X300 because it seriously lacks support. GNOME on the other hand works perfectly, without any problems so far. So it is absolutely the best choice for ThinkPad X300 users.