Friday, March 30, 2007

Here it is!

Ok, I needed a couple of days to make myself accustomed to the laptop and to try and understand a few things.
First impressions:
  • it's light (although heavier than I thought I'd feel, and heavier than what FSC declares: 1.9kg instead of 1.7),
  • the display is good. I thought that a resolution of 1280x800 on a 12.1" screen would make everything soooo small, but it's actually perfectly usable.
  • the keyboard is ok. I'm not used to type on laptops' keyboards, but the feel is good. The only two drawbacks I could find so far are that the arrow keys are smaller than the other keys, and that there is no PgUp/PgDown/"Begin"/End keys. I mean, there are, but you have to press two keys (Fn key + an arrow) to use these functions.
  • Construction is good. The laptop looks well built, and there are no strange noises when one picks it up. Maybe it's because it's brand new. Anyway this was something I was worried about because before buying it I read all the reviews I could find, and a few pointed out that the materials the SI1520 is built of are not so good. Of course it's mainly plastic, but not so cheap as those reviews said.
  • The touchpad looks good. It has a nice feel and works well. The rightmost part of it works as a scroller, and influences the vertical scrollbar of your browser (or any other window that shows one). Nice touch.
  • Now on to the worse part. Of course this is a personal opinion! The hard drive (120Gb unformatted, 111Gb formatted) is divided in three partitions:
1. A 12Gb hidden partition, used as "recovery" partition
2. A 79Gb partition, on which Windows Vista Home Premium resides
3. A 20Gb partition, for "Data"

I found it was stupid to waste 12 Gb (more than 10% of the entire disk) for a recovery partition that would probably never be used. I mean, recovery might be needed one day or the other, but that can be easily done with the Recovery DVD found in the box. I was worried that the recovery DVD was just a "boot disk" that would recovery the installation by copying data from the hidden partition to Vista's one. But after a few experiments, I've found out that this DVD is an OEM version of the setup DVD for Windows Vista, so one can use it to install Vista from scratch.

Therefore I erased all the partitions and made them from zero. My hard drive is now divided into two partitions: a 37Gb partition for Windows Vista, and a 74Gb partition for Linux.
Reinstalling Vista took around half an hour, and all went smoothly. Only the built-in memory card reader wouldn't be recognized by the installation, but the Drivers Cd included in the package solved the problem easily.
I then proceeded to installing Linux. I chose the Kubuntu distribution, because I already am an Ubuntu user, and because this distribution works great with this laptop.
But I will get into the details of the Kubuntu installation in a future post.


johnorford said...

i'm also thinking of getting an si1520, but my main concenr is whether kubuntu edgy or feisty will run on it. would b v interested to see what you think.

Sciamano said...

I've just installed Ubuntu Feisty. I'm testing it a little before writing a post about it, but so far it looks like it works quite well.

johnorford said...

good to hear!!

Sciamano said...

I'm having some problems with the latest kernel (no more wireless support and no more 4-in-1 card reader). Using the second latest kernel the only problem I'm experiencing is that the touchpad stops working when the notebook is resumed after a "suspend". It seems like a common problem that has no solution yet. USB mouse works even after a suspend, though.

Felix said...

I just bought the Amilo Pro V3205 (which is basically the same as the Amilo SI1520) for a friend.

When first booting it with a Knoppix live CD, I wondered about the strange partition layout just as you did. When I decided to have a look at Windows Vista (I had never seen it before), it took bloody ages to set everything up. On the way, it asked me whether I wanted one partition over the whole disk or one Windows and one data partition where I could choose the size ratio. I opted for the latter and when the initialisation process was done, the partition layout was as follows:

sda1: 2 GB recovery
sda2: 21 GB Windows
sda3: the rest for data.

I deleted the data partition from within the Windows partition manager, booted the Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn netinstall mini.iso and set up the linux and shared data partitions the way I wanted them. VoilĂ !

It seems the unattended installation script changes the partition layout on the way, and as I said, you can choose the Windows and data partition size ratio yourself. So there is no need to wipe the entire disk to get rid of the strange layout.

One more tip: Some folders on some partitions of the pre-setup disk contain the bundled software, mostly as normal .exe oder .msi installers. I connected my USB harddisk and made a backup of those from within Knoppix before booting Vista for the first time. You should also do this if you want to wipe the disk nonetheless, e.g. because you want to save the 2 GB the recovery partition takes.

Wow, that was a lot of text ;-) Anyway, I'm starting to like "littlemay" (that's the thing's name) a lot, and if I had 950 Euros, I'd probably buy one for myself.

Sciamano said...

Hi felix, thanks for sharing your experience. Your suggestion of backing up some directories before even exploding Vista is very good. I did not think of that before wiping everything out, but still, I don't plan on using Vista much, so I won't miss the lost software much.

What version of Vista did your V3205 come with? When I exploded Vista, I had no choice over the partitions setup, so I guess it might be due to different versions of Vista.

Also, if my initial partitions were like yours, I would have kept them as they were. But 12 Gb for recovery were too much in my opinion! :-)

Felix said...

sciamano, i think you got me wrong. the partition layout i described was what i had AFTER going through the vista (post-)installation routine. before that, knoppix showed me the same strange layout you experienced. but the (post-)installation routine obviously repartitioned the whole thing before really booting vista for the first time.

my friend's v3205 came with vista business. the window where i was asked for the single/split partition layout and the relative sizes carried a fujitsu-siemens logo, so i do not believe this is dependent on the version of vista.

maybe the amilo pro series comes with vista business and this partitioning thing, while the si series comes with vista home and no choice with regards to partitioning?

Sciamano said...

Hi felix, that's probably it, since I was given no choice on how to configure partitions. Once I started the laptop, it simply exploded Vista Home Premium, without giving any choice at all.

Felix said...

it would have been kinda cool if you could have confirmed the automatic repartitioning that took place here on "littlemay".

by the way. did you happen to reinstall vista from the recovery dvd? i'd like to know whether is allows one to partition the disk and to choose the installation partition freely, such as during a normal retail installation.

Sciamano said...

The "recovery DVD" is nothing but a simple OEM Windows Vista setup DVD. The installation procedure is exactly the same of any other Windows version, and it allows partitioning and all.

Felix said...

does the recovery dvd just look like an oem dvd during setup, actually being a recovery dvd? or do we have a "real" oem dvd here? the difference would be the possibility to install to hardware other than the si1520/v3205. and that again would mean that one could sell the dvd with the hologram sticker legally (at least in germany), thus saving microsoft tax for a computer that runs ubuntu anyway.

Sciamano said...

It's a real OEM dvd, but I think you can't resell it, because it should only work on Fujitsu-Siemens hardware.