Sunday, March 10, 2013

My new Mockbook Air

I got a new Ultrabook from Newegg the other day, and I am impressed.  Avatar is a total unknown Chinese laptop and tablet maker, and they sell exclusively on Newegg.  This thing is NICE!  Very good quality, all metal body, nice sharp edges, just like a Macbook Air, hence my nickname of "Mockbook".  It has very good specs, including:


  • Intel Core i5 3317U(1.70GHz)
  • 8GB Memory 500GB HDD + 32GB SSD HDD (Sweet!)
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • 1366 x 768 display
  • Windows 8 64-bit (Ok, that one's not so great)

So, I immediately did a smoke test, then burned a Mint DVD and installed it.  Everything works fine, except the touchpad.  It's a never-seen-in-the-wild Elan touchpad with all kinds of swipey gestures and multi-touch features for Windows 8.  Don't worry, I've already filed a bug report against the Linux kernel.

Also, Mint just felt too "heavy", and if there's anything I hate, it's a computer that feels bloated or mis-configured.  So, I downloaded Debian Wheezy on my trusty 10 year old 1 GB USB Key and loaded up.  Much better!   Wheezy+Gnome is so clean and easy to use, it's the desktop OS I've looked for for years.

I still needed to tweak the kernel for the hardware and for laptop/battery use, so I fetched the latest stable kernel, which as of this post, is 3.8.2. I hacked on the config for two days, and can safely say I have a very nicely optimized kernel for this laptop now.  I've linked it to this post if you decide to build a kernel for this Ultrabook.

Newegg's Real Time pricing can be a bit annoying.  I had it in my cart at $659, woke up the next morning to order it, and it had jumped to $729! I ordered anyway, and when I shipped, I logged in to track it and it had dropped back to $659!  That kind of ticked me off, so I went to Newegg Customer Service, and CSR Heidy had empathy for my plight and gave me a $25 credit to soften the blow a bit Newegg's still on top!