I finally picked out an acceptable laptop and managed to win it on eBay, after trying unsuccessfully for several days, losing out at the last hour. I also spent many hours hunting through online shops; I almost went through Lenovo.com’s store, but customers are reporting terrible experiences with ‘em, so I went with eBay instead. No word on shipping; I assume it’ll go out via priority USPS tomorrow.
I snapped up a new Thinkpad R61i for just over $600, counting shipping. That’s $200 more than I originally planned to pay, back when I was still looking for the ultimate low-end laptop, like a $399 Acer Aspire or Everex StepNote.
On paper, the Thinkpad should be fully supported in Linux, though I won’t know about the integrated fingerprint reader until it arrives. Lenovo recently decided to use a slightly different UPEK product that seems to be missing crypto logic, so there’s no support for those kinds of readers whatsoever. They won’t work with binary drivers (like bioapi), nor with thinkfinger or fprint. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! (Pun intended.)
CPU: C2D T5250 1.5ghz (Yes, I’m aware that this may make me somewhat of a traitor to my fellow AMD enthusiasts)
GPU & screen: Intel X3100, 15.4″ widescreen 1280×800
Networking: Intel gigabit LAN & 3945ABG wireless
For the first time ever, I’m actually up in the air about whether or not to install 32-bit or 64-bit Gentoo on the thing. I’ve been doing enough reading over at ThinkWiki and other places to consider a 32-bit installation. Since there’s only 2GB of RAM in the machine, I don’t have any particular hardware reasons to go 64-bit. And some of the audio applications I intend to run on it aren’t keyworded amd64, or just plain don’t work on 64-bit CPUs. It’s been giving me and my desktop headaches.
I think one of the first upgrades I’ll be making will be to order an Ultrabay battery, as well as check the included battery. I need something with long life at a reasonable cost. I’ll probably have to shop at Lenovo’s store to get the battery, so I guess “reasonable cost” is right out. Which means that, according to resellerratings.com, if it ever arrives, it’ll be in a few months. Joy.
But hey, that can’t diminish my enthusiasm for actually snagging a (great?) laptop at a great price. Happy belated Christmas to me!
Once the laptop arrives, I’ll see about getting a USB-to-MIDI cable so I can put the thing to use as a digital audio workstation. So much fun ahead!