today, linux is awesome

Saturday August 07, 2004
A brief list of things I can do with my new laptop in Linux:
  • Connect USB hardware (keyboard, mouse, camera)

  • Display to multiple screens (internal flatscreen and desktop flatscreen at a different resolution) simultaneously)

  • Connect to wireless networks, using a card which is not supported by linux, by loading the Windows NT driver for my card

  • Connect to wired networks.

  • Watch movies.

  • Play OpenGL games with good hardware accelleration. (e.g., Neverwinter Nights)

  • Play music.

  • Use voice-over-IP, courtesy of Divmod and Shtoom

  • Get accurate reports of remaining battery life.

  • Conserve battery power when I'm not using the processor's full capacity.

Last time I had a laptop, getting these things working would have been a 6-month project, minimum. This time things are working in less than a week, even given a really stupid mistake that hosed my installation completely and forced me to re-do all the configuration work. It really blows my mind. The only thing that I really haven't gotten working that I have in Windows so far is software suspend, or "hibernate", and I know exactly what I need to do (but haven't yet because of the annoyance of a kernel compile).

I hope that works when I try it next, because if it works that will mean I have a portable, dual-boot, dual-display machine that can swap from Windows to Linux in a matter of seconds.

Linux still has a little ways to go in the "automatically detecting your hardware" department, but at least things work more or less the way they say they should these days, if you spend a moment with the appropriate documentation. I'm really pleased.