I was looking for a cheap, good bang for the buck laptop I could take back and forth to class and also something I could play with Linux on outside of desktop/workstation boxes. I browsed NewEgg for a few weeks looking for good deals and finally settled on this one. There were two versions, one was a Celeron with 51MB RAM and about the time I settled on it, the price of this one dropped so went ahead and spent the extra for a Core Duo, double the RAM and a DVD burner.
It's a pretty run of the mill low end laptop. Nothing too fancy or too expensive .. here are the highlights.
- Model 530 (GU337AT#ABA)
- Screen 15.4" WXGA
- Memory Size 1GB DDR2
- Hard Disk 80GB
- Optical Drive DVD±R/RW
- Graphics Card Intel GMA950
- Video Memory shared memory
- CPU Type Intel Core Duo
- CPU Speed T2300E(1.66GHz)
- CPU FSB 667MHz
- CPU L2 Cache 2MB
- Resolution 1280 x 800
- GPU/VPU Intel GMA950
- Video Memory Up to 224-MB shared system memory
- Graphic Type Integrated Card
- HD Interface SATA
- Memory Slots 2 x SO-DIMM
- Memory Speed DDR2 667
The base install was extremely easy. Coming from Slackware I had a pretty good grasp of a text-based installer so I was right at home during the initial configuration. However, since this was my first experience with Arch I was a bit lost when it came time to configure the system. :^) I browsed the wiki here for a bit until I stumbled on the great Beginners Guide which I used to update the system, grab Xorg, XFCE and pretty much everything else it mentioned. If you're an Arch newb like I am I strongly suggest browsing over there and checking out that Intro, I can't recommend it enough. :-)
Combine the fact I was coming to Arch from Slack with my OCD nature, I ended up with a the following partitioning scheme.
/dev/sda6 /boot /dev/sda7 / /dev/sda8 /usr /dev/sda9 /home /dev/sda10 /var /dev/sda11 /tmp
With a 2048MB SWAP space (2*1024RAM)
I pretty much went down the aforementioned Beginners Guide the first reboot, so I won't go into a great deal of detail. Besides everyone has their own preferences on a lot of that stuff like media players and themes, fonts etc.
I updated via pacman then grabbed the Xorg, sound (alsa), XFCE and fonts packages mentioned there. Then I configured DBUS and HAL which were pretty much working out of the box and edited /etc/rc.conf to load the DAEMONS and MODULES I needed. Everything worked on the first try with little or no tweaking needed so I was up and running my first fully functional Arch install. :-)
I only had three real issues during the install -- wireless, CPU frequency scaling and sound.
A laptop without wireless is pretty useless, and this is one of the areas Linux hasn't really shined in the past so I was a bit apprehensive when my wireless didn't work right out of the box. However after reading through most of the documentation on the Wiki and the Forums I got it working, so there is hope if you're struggling with it too.
If you haven't already, take a look at the wireless setup page. It's a good starting point/intro for wireless newbs like me. On there it mentions the method I use here as being the "non-preferred" method, but I couldn't get the "preferred" method there to work. Now that I know a little bit more about the process I may try to go back and look into it, but as long as it's not broken, I'm reluctant to go fix it. :-s
First I grabbed the wireless tools package.
pacman -S wireless_tools
Then I figured out which type of card I had with lshwd (I actually had to grab lshwd with pacman first, but no biggie there!)
lshwd . . 10:00.0 Class 0280: Intel Corporation|PRO/Wireless 3945ABG (ipw3945) . .
So, I need the ipw3945 module which was already on my system, as determined by:
I checked to see if it was loaded already
lsmod | grep 3945
It wasn't, but the iwl3945 was so I removed it. (At this point I had installed so many different modules and packages trying to get wireless to work I'm not sure exactly what comes pre-loaded with the default install so YMMV on this next little bit).
Then I dropped in the ipw3945 module
Finally I needed to insert the ipw3945 module (and remove any iwl3945) into the MODULES array in /etc/rc.conf and ipw3945d daemon into the DAEMONS array in the same file. I'm not sure if it matters, but I made sure I put the daemon before all the other networking related daemons, again, YMMV slightly.