My new laptop (HPR Show )

Dave Morriss


Table of Contents

The OggCamp Raffle

I attended OggCamp15 in Liverpool at the end of October 2015. As usual I bought some raffle tickets as a contribution to the expenses of the (un-)conference, not paying much attention to the prizes.

Actually, the star prize was a laptop donated by Entroware, a significant sponsor of the event, one of the most impressive prizes ever offered at OggCamp. There was quite a lot of excitement about this prize.

I attended the drawing of the raffle at the end of proceedings on the Sunday. Dan Lynch (of Linux Outlaws, and a frequent organiser of OggCamp) was in attendance overseeing the selection of the raffle tickets. Various smaller prizes were won and the tension built up as the final drawing approached.

Things got very tense when the first number drawn for the laptop was called and nobody responded. Then another draw was made.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I realised I had the winning ticket! I had won the star prize in the OggCamp raffle!

The laptop I won

Entroware Ltd are a Liverpool-based company who sell Ubuntu Linux computers.

The model is the Kratos, an attractive dark grey laptop with a brushed metal-looking case. It is listed on the Entroware website but the specifications have changed a little from the model I have.

I was also interviewed about this laptop by @kevie and @mcnalu on the TuxJam podcast. One of their questions was whether I'd recorded an HPR show about it, and if not why not. That prompted me to put together this episode, so thanks to the guys for the suggestion!

The specifications

  • The Kratos model I won has a core i3-4100M 2.50GHz processor with 8GB DDR3 memory and a 120GB SSD. It has a 1080p 15.6 inch screen.

  • Sound is handled by a Sound Blaster sound system and graphics by a NVIDIA GEForce GTX 950M graphics card. There are on-board graphics which are switchable. I found that by default it used the on-board graphics for economy but could be switched to the NVIDIA card through the NVIDIA application.

  • For networking it has Intel AC-8260 wireless, Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet

  • Externally it has a camera, a VGA connector, Ethernet port, 1 USB3.0/e-SATA combo port, 1 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.0, HDMI connector, multi-function card slot, DVD rewriter, 2 audio jacks and a lock point

  • It came installed with Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf)

Impressions

I have never bought myself a new laptop. I have a Netbook, an ASUS eeePC, which I use mainly for its portability, but I don't count it as a full laptop. I also have another i3 system, a laptop my daughter owned then passed on to me when she wanted to upgrade. It's an HP G62 Notebook model, about 5 or 6 years old, which became more or less unusable for Windows and was always overheating. After stripping it down and giving it a good clean, a new battery and installing Linux, it's been OK for occasional use, though it still gets pretty hot. It normally runs on top of a laptop cooler for that reason.

The Entroware Kratos on the other hand seems like a well built machine and the fact that it is tailored for running Linux is a great advantage. Of course, that SSD makes a huge difference compared to what I have been used to.

The fact that it has Ubuntu installed on it, with the Unity interface is a little bit less appealing to me. I started my Linux journey with RedHat Linux, which became Fedora, then I moved to Ubuntu with KDE and ran that for many years. I also ran Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my ASUS at one point, around the time that Unity was released. It was OK for a while but didn't run well as new releases were installed, and I replaced it with the late lamented CrunchBang Linux, which I ran for several years.

I will persevere with Ubuntu and Unity for the moment, but I think I will eventually install Debian on the laptop. I run Debian Testing on my desktop system, and really enjoy the fact that it keeps up to date and delivers very recent versions of what I need without having to perform a version upgrade twice a year.

I might also consider trying out Slackware or perhaps even Arch Linux on it.

The Kratos is a much lighter machine than the old HP, at 2.5Kg and this is noticeable and very welcome.

I'm not a seasoned laptop user but it seems to me that the keyboard on the Kratos is rather unlike my other machines. I'm not much of a typist, but the keys do seem a little small given the available space.

The following pictures of the three keyboards are not to scale, but might give some idea of what I mean:

Entroware keyboard
The keyboard of the Entroware Kratos

ASUS keyboard
The keyboard of the ASUS eeePC

HP keyboard
The keyboard of the HP G62

Would I recommend Entroware?

I was asked this question on TuxJam, and my feeling is: Yes, I would.

I really like the fact that they are selling and supporting systems which run Linux. There are not and have not been many companies who have done this in the UK as far as I know.

A number of UK companies offering systems without an operating system or with Linux already installed are listed on the TuxJam website.

I have always tried to buy hardware with Linux pre-installed in recent years. Back in 2008 I bought a Linux desktop from a company called EfficientPC in London. It was a Core Duo system with 1GB of memory and a 500GB hard disk, with Kubuntu installed, and I ran it for about five years. I don't think they are still in business (or the name has been re-used), but they did a great job of building such systems.

To my mind Entroware are offering some highly desirable systems, and long may they continue to do so.