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A disenchanted Thinkpad user looks for a quality Linux laptop

I’m a longtime Linux + Thinkpad loyalist, currently looking for a new laptop, but considering jumping ship from Thinkpad. I mainly do a lot of typing and recently lots of videoconferencing. I don’t really care about the hardware specs as long as it has 16GB of RAM, an SSD, and the hardware is completely hassle-free with Linux. Battery life should be at least average, so probably either 6 cells or a crazy-efficient CPU. And I need it to be high-quality and long-lasting with zero annoyances, as even small niggles can become unbearable after 14 hours of use, 7 days a week. This means that factors like fan noise, function keys, trackpad location, and the location of other important keys can make or break the deal for me. A bit of history: My current daily driver is a Thinkpad T530, and it’s the best laptop I’ve ever owned. Mine has the best of the three screen options for this model, an FHD (1920x1080), and it’s still one of the best laptop screens I’ve ever seen. Read more

Review: Manjaro Linux 0.8.9 (Cinnamon edition)

Arch Linux is highly respected throughout the Linux community as a cutting edge, well designed, rolling-release Linux distro with superb documentation. But at the same time, it is also discarded as a non-option by many Linux users, including experienced ones, for being time consuming to install and configure. I fall into this latter group. So, what’s a self-respecting Linux user supposed to do if (s)he wants to run Arch Linux but doesn’t want to a dedicate a whole weekend to it? Enter Manjaro, a Linux distro based on Arch. It is important to note that Manjaro is not just a re-branded Arch spin. In fact, it’s not truly an Arch system, and it does not use the Arch binary package repositories. But it’s dependent on Arch and it supposedly maintains all of the desirable features of Arch, while at the same time trying to mitigate or solve some of Arch’s less than desirable traits. Read more

In support of open source launchers

After many years of using traditional desktop environments like Gnome 2 and KDE and XFCE, I recently spent a few months with Ubuntu 13.04. Overall, my experience with the Unity desktop was fairly positive after I tweaked and configured it to my liking. Since then, I’m using a different non-Ubuntu based distribution, so I’m currently using Mate 1.6. Probably the feature that I most miss from Unity is the launcher. Frankly, I’m surprised that the Unity launcher was so useful and intuitive for me, since I have never been particularly fond of keyboard navigation. Although I still don’t use the keyboard much for window management or within the applications, now that I’m back on Mate I find myself really missing the convenience of searching and launching both apps and files from one unified interface with just a few keywords. With the online results all disabled, Unity’s launcher learns from the user’s habits and quickly becomes uncannily accurate at suggesting relevant local files and applications based on a few letters of input. Read more