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 "fix" it. :-/
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.
At this point you should have everything ready to go on the hardware side. You man want to reboot to make sure you got all the stuff in /etc/rc.conf correct since I thought I had things working a couple times until I rebooted then everything magically broke again. :^)
Software/User Space Stuff
(NOTE: I'm not endorsing one program/utility over another here, I'm just sharing what I got to work. :-) ) I browsed around the Arch site here and Google looking for a nice wireless connection utility and tried a couple different things. I tried networkmanagerbut that didn't really get me anywhere. Then I tried wicd and it had all the features I needed and seemed to work alright so I went with it. I pretty much followed the procedure on the wicd page and I was up and running in no time. I added wicd to my DAEMON array in /etc/rc.conf and launched it via the tray icon and it found my wireless connection ... and six of my neighbors. :^)