Nov 14, 2009

Trying & Failing with Linux & The HP Envy

I currently use a Dell XPS m1330 as my full time work laptop. After playing around with Sidux for about a year I settled down on Ubuntu where I've been happily plugging away for quite a while. The biggest nag I have is that my hardware is starting to show its age. Since it's been about 2 years I decided to reward myself with the beautiful, powerful, and expensive HP Envy 13.

Loaded with a great graphics card and 5GB of RAM, I expected that this stunning crafted metal would serve me well for the next 2 years. But, after about 36 hours with the machine I decided to send it back. Here's why:


1. BIOS problems. After doing some digging around I discovered that the BIOS (version F.05 of this writing). Didn't play nicely with linux. Apparently it does not correctly report temperature and whatnot making Speedstep and ACPI problematic or non-functioning. link

2. The trackpad was not functional in linux. People complained about the trackpad behavior in Windows but frankly I thought it was passable.. something I'd get used to after a while or even learn to enjoy with a few software tweaks. Unfortunately, the synaptics drivers in linux didn't allow me to even click on the trackpad. I was relegated to tapping to click. That's well and good but it means that right-clicking isn't possible without major hacking.

I felt that both issues above might eventually get fixed but I couldn't use Windows 7 while I waited. (BTW, it's still a horrible operating system..) As a last resort I thought about installing VMWare 7 and using linux full-time within it. Not ideal, sure, but it would hold me over for a few months while drivers and bios updates rolled out.

Unfortunately, VMWare 7 won't work on the Envy 13 out of the box. I kept getting an error about it being unable to access the .vmdx file. Googling around I discovered the error is basically caused by either the Firewall, Virus detection (both of which I had disabled) or any of a billion 3rd party preinstalled apps.

And that's where I decided my time had been sufficiently wasted.

So if any readers are considering the Envy 13 in conjunction with Linux, I'd suggest taking a pass for now. By the time HP decide to take linux seriously and provide basic support then maybe the Envy 13/15 will be more reasonably priced.

Lastly, if anyone has a suggestion for a laptop under 1" thick (everywhere.. no games please), with a decent graphics card, please post a link below.

4 comments:

  1. Ubuntu upgrades always wear me thin. I'm thinking of buying one of last year's iMacs.

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  2. well, i thought about buying one of those, but not after these reports anymore.
    as if it were not enough paying the windows-tax...

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  3. I am happy with my Envy 13 and Windows 7. But having Ubuntu on it would make me real happy. Is there no hope on this yet?

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  4. so what did you end up buying? I'm looking for a slim laptop to run Ubuntu myself. thanks

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