I’m returning my laptop’s SSD for a replacement drive. In the meantime, I loaded Ubuntu Precise on my Sony Z. I usually run Windows w/ Linux in a VM. The installation actually went just fine. It looked good, it appeared to work and all was well. Unfortunately, my laptop has a switch to manually choose between Intel’s integrated graphics and an Nvidia GPU. It took tons of searching to gather clues from cryptic emails and blogs to learn that it probably doesn’t work on Linux 3.2 for some reason. And it turns out it was using unity-2D rather than Intel’s drivers and unity-3d. It took a lot of searching to figure out how to load the right drivers and get unity-3D. It finally works, though the 3D is underwhelming. And I still can’t use Nvidia.
The problem with Ubuntu, and Linux in general, is that it always requires some magical incantation to make things work. And it takes a while to find the right commands because searches often lead to unhelpful threads on Ubuntu’s forums. I’m not a Linux newbie. However, I detest sys admin drudgery because I’d rather work than waste time figuring out how to get hibernate turned on. Linux fans are like gearheads who love to work on cars. For me a car is an appliance, as is my computer. Frankly, I am happy to pay the Windows (or Apple) tax because it means I’ll always get the right drivers and my computer will just work. That is certainly worth $100.
I am willing to pay an Ubuntu tax for a service that makes it dead simple to install and maintain my laptop. Someone could curate all the shit needed to get my laptop working, including memory cards, fingerprint readers, etc. I would pay to subscribe to their PPA. Also, they could run something like AskUbuntu specifically for my laptop model. That way I can be sure the solutions are appropriate for my hardware. I don’t want vague instructions to run some commands; I want a script from them just does it for me. For example, double-tap-and-drag doesn’t work well. Turns out I need to adjust a variable with synclient. But it doesn’t persist across reboots, so I have to add a script to change the value every time I restart. This is not how I want to spend my time. I’d pay for someone else to do this for me.
When my SSD comes back I’ll be reloading Win7 and running Ubuntu in VMware. This setup works perfectly fine for me. I should say, though, that Ubuntu Precise is actually pretty good. If it ran smoothly on my laptop, I might have stuck with it. Maybe.