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Millenium Falcon


My old netbook is currently seven years old, and shows its age : boot times up to two minutes, working in Chrome was a drag and took ages. And I'm not even talking about performing updates. All to blame on the slow CPU (never again an Atom !) and the slow hard drive. The last two occasions I used the laptop was on Config Management Days and Red Hat summit, and I can tell you the experience was unpleasant. So a new laptop was needed.

Luckily, the laptop market has reinvented itself after it collapsed during the tablet rise. Ultrabooks are now super slim, super light and extremely powerful. My new laptop needed to be :

  • fast : no Celeron or Atom chip was allowed. An i5 as minimum CPU
  • beautifull : I need a companion to my vanity. No plasticky stuff, well build and good quality.
  • well supportive for Linux : Linux would be installed, so the hardware needed to be supported
  • reasonable cheap : speaks for itself; a lot of nice ultrabooks are available, but I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg.
  • light and small : I carry this everywhere around the world, so the laptop shouldn't weigh more than 1.4kg

Soon, I saw 2 main candidates : first, the Dell XPS13 still is regarded as ultrabook king. It supports Linux nicely, and has that beautiful Infinity display. Disadvantages were that it was on the heavy side, and I wasn't fan of its design either. And a tad on the expensive side as well.

On the other side, there was the Asus Zenbook 3 (UX390) which was stunningly beautiful, had a nice screen as well and was extremely light with its 0.9 kg. However, I saw the silver variant in the shop, but found it a bit on the small side. So when I saw its 14 inch brother, UX430UQ, I was immediately sold. This is a 14 inch laptop - it is advertised as a 13inch laptop with a 14 inch screen, but don't believe that - which is as light as 1.25 kg, has a nice dark grey metal spun outerior and excellent keyboard and screen. Equipped with an i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, it doesn't fail to deliver on the performance field. Shame that Asus doesn't provide a sleeve with this laptop, as it does with the UX390. Also, important, it doesn't has a safe lock hole, so don't leave this baby unattended.

I wiped the Windows 10 and booted the Fedora netinstall CD, but it seemed that both WiFi and trackpad were unsupported. I lost quite some time with this, but eventually decided to boot it with the Fedora LiveCD, to find out all was working out of the box. Probably the netinstall CD uses an older kernel. I baptised the laptop Millenium Falcon, as I switched to spaceship names on my hardware lately.



My old PC has survived for 10,5 years : mostly thanks to Linux and its low resource requirements. That is very impressive, but the box started to show its age : boot times up to two minutes, and a hard drive which performed sub-par. Time for a new machine : Intel i7 Skylake, SSD + 3TB HDD and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Fast and furious.

I made the switch as well from Debian to Fedora : I must admit that I'm quite charmed by Fedora. Stable and on the bleeding edge side (my previous box was Debian Stable based, so your definition of "bleeding edge" may vary). Anyway, Fedora installed without a glitch, and the subsequent upgrade to Fedora24 was one of the fastest PC upgrades I experienced.

The machine is called Nostromo, to the spaceship in Alien. I guess I ran out of pronounceable Tolkien names, and didn't found any suitable Game of Thrones based names. Science-fiction to the rescue.



Yesterday, my monitor made a crisping sound when I tried to switch it on. A flickering on the screen of gray and white, followed by the smell of burnt plastic and a wisp of white smoke (Habemus papam !), made me fear the worst. Indeed, RIP to my faithful 17" Philips LCD. At such times, a spare computer is a very handy thing.

Skip forward to today. I acquired a new 23" Acer X233H screen. Unfortunately, my NVidia 6600 Geforce only supports a maximum of 1440x900 (no 1920x1200 for you!), so I wouldn't call it the ultimate screen experience yet. But I like the transition from 17" to 23", although my Gnome desktop settings still might need a bit of tweaking.

Update : and it's b0rken already. Bah...
Update2 : got my money back, and switched to a Samsung Syncmaster 2033. Much better, and this one supports 1600x900 :)

No HDMI sound with the ASUS M2A-VM mobo


Our good old CRT television died last week. Suddenly, without any warning, it refused to start up. So I decided to shop for a LCD television. I chose for a Samsung 81" TV. No full HD, cause I still use DVB-T as the primary TV-signal source. However, connecting my HTPC to the TV by composite signal gave a bad image quality. Connecting with a SCART was even worse. So I decided that it was a good moment to try out HDMI, which gave a perfect image, but alas without sound.

I first checked the BIOS, as it gives an option to enable or disable HDMI sound. It seemed to be enabled, so I had to look for another reason for the absence of the HDMI HD audio device in Windows. Finally, I found that one needs to update the ATI HD sound driver in order to create the RealTek HDMI sound output. Here’s a link to realtek’s driver download for HDMI. Download "ATI HDMI Audio Device ", install it, and after reboot, select in the Windows Audio setup the Realtek HD audio device as the default device. After that, you're ready to rumble.

Guns + hardware = fun !


PC LOAD LETTER ! Don't you hate that laptop with the flaky Shift button ? Is your Treo the device from hell ? Is your phone dialing you nuts ? Wouldn't it be fun to crash all the misbehaving crapware to their righteous place in hell ? Do you crave for your own Office Space printer footage ? Check out the Gadget abuse for your sweet revenge.
I had my fair share too with misbehaving hardware, but the abuse stayed limited to a keyboard, two mice and one printer.


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