1 Meet Kim, my new laptop

A month ago, my aging laptop started showing its age. The fan control on my Lenovo Thinkpad T400s had given me some trouble through the years, but suddenly it would heat up, shut down, and refuse to boot for a long time. I've been using ThinkFan with a fairly robust setup for some time, but that didn't work any more. Time to go shopping for a replacement.

I really like the robustness of the ThinkPads, they lack the brittle feel of your average Dell or HP. Being a Linux user I'm a little picky about my hardware, the wifi chipset needs to be just right and I have strong opinions on my graphics hardware.

Since I wanted a light computer with good screen resolution, I set up a shortlist of these alternatives:

  • The ThinkPad X1
  • The ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31
  • The Samsung 900 X3

The Asus and Samsung are thin, sleek and affordable where the Lenovo is a made by a manufacturer I trust. Reading reviews on Amazon I read about people buying the Asus and needing several replacements before finding a device without QA issues.

The reviews of the Samsung were mostly positive, but running Linux on it seemed to be problematic:

  • Suspend would cause problems
  • Drivers for the wireless chipset was a problem
  • Function keys for light control etc would need tinkering
  • Booting with UEFI/Safe boot would cause headaches

There were indications that a recent kernel would take care of some of these issues, and I felt reasonably comfortable about taking care of the remaining issues myself, so I placed an order for the Samsung, which arrived last Friday.

My first impression was that Samsung really has done a great job copying Apple here, my computer arrived in a really good-looking box. Opening the box, I found that the usual sticker junk was pasted onto a thin plastic cover; the only sticker left was the Intel sticker. The build quality seems really good, and it's unbelievably light. And really, really small. The dark grey color makes it look better than the MacBook air, and the display is really bright with a great resolution. Oh, and the Ctrl key is all the way to the bottom left of the keyboard where it's supposed to be.

As expected, I had to disable safe boot in the "BIOS", and switch to "CSM" boot. I had very little idea what I was doing at this point, but after a couple of tries my computer booted from the Fedora 17 USB stick instead of the bundled Windows 8 installation on the SSD. The installation gave me no surprises, I wiped everything off the SSD and installed Fedora onto it, and after ~10 minutes I was able to log in.

The first problem I found after booting was that Fedora was unable to recognize the wifi on my computer, so I plugged in the bundled Ethernet adapter which worked without problems. Running yum update took about 15 minutes, and after rebooting I was up and running with the 3.6.10 kernel. As expected this resolved the wifi issues, closing the lid would immediately suspend the computer, and most Fn keys work.

1.1 What works, and what doesn't?

Short story: most things work. The Fn keys to adjust the keyboard backlight and toggle wifi doesn't work, and the "silent/normal" mode toggle doesn't work - although I'm able to control them via "files" in /sys/devices/platform/samsung/.

I haven't spent too much time fiddling with these things, but I probably will do so once I've upgraded to Fedora 18 which will be out tomorrow. I'll be using this guide in doing so.

1.2 What's with the name?

I have this childish habit of naming my computers after state leaders. I installed my last computer during the riots in Egypt, so I named it Hosni. Since my Samsung is Korean I named it Kim. Before you ask: I know.

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