Why the “new” Lenovo design sucks…

(Mostly a note to remind myself what to look for the next time I get a new laptop)

Lenovo reinvented the keyboard on their ThinkPads in 2012; and this is why it sucks:

  • New key placement; menu key is gone; replaced with PrtSc.
  • No multimedia keys; only way to change/stop/pause/play music is by switching to another application and interact with it. (I might even have to use the trackpad/mouse. I usually don’t.)
  • They switched to internal lighting for the keyboard and removed the monitor-mounted LED, which used to be good enough to read paper notes in a dark room. New lighting is _not_ useful for this purpose.
  • No visual indication of caps-lock being active or not (and I use this key quite often during development due to code styling)
  • Trackpad sucks; while it was possible to tap the rightmost edge (or define own zones) for right-click and keep the rest of the pad for left-click; the new pad will in some cases interpret taps as right-click over half of the pad, and is inconsistent and inaccurate. Meaning more problems when it makes a mistake.
  • Possibly not related to the keyboard: Speakers suck as a result of being moved to the underside of the laptop. My old W530 had them to the side of the keyboard, which is impossible on the W540 due to the size. Other manufacturers are sensible and place them between the keyboard and the monitor, and although they rarely sound great they are a lot better than on the W540. (Think speakers with horns filled with toiletpaper)
  • The speakers chosen actually suck regardless of location; hand placement when typing distorts the sound even more.
  • The color sensor useless as-is unless you do graphic work where color accuracy is a must. What would have been awesome was if the sensor would include a LED and act as a color detector, allowing us to sample colors from physical objects.

There are probably other issues as well, but these are the most prominent.

xorg.conf with two adapters and three monitors.

My current setup is three monitors on two VGA adapters using the nVidia proprietary drivers, and the optimal setup would allow me to move anything I want between all three monitors. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as in Windows (7), and I had to mess about for a while before getting (almost) there.

Setting up a display on each monitor isn’t a big issue. Define three X screens with one monitor per screen, make sure you position them correctly, and restart X. This works, but doesn’t allow you to move anything (except the cursor) between the monitors.

The next thing I tried was to enable Xinerama, which supposedly allows X to send things between monitors. This actually works with all three monitors on separate screens, but is a real pain in the arse every other minute or so, when X appear to freeze for a few seconds. Also, if you’re moving eg. VLC between monitors while watching a movie, everything grinds to a halt for almost a minute. Which means that it’s more or less unusable in the long run, especially for playing games. Oh, and Xinerama isn’t compatible with composite-dependant applications, such as Compiz.

The last thing I tried was to disable Xinerama, and use Twinview instead. Twinview allows the VGA adapter to basically extend the display from one monitor, which is actually what I wanted. Unfortunately this only works for the monitors within one screen, which means that my last monitor is on a separate X screen, and I cannot drag and drop things between that and the others. But at least nothing hangs, freeze or slows down any longer.

Click on the link below for the complete xorg.conf file I’m currently using.

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Building wine 1.5.13 on Debian Sid

I’ve been having some problems building and installing wine 1.5.13 on Debian Sid (64-bit). 1.5.5 is available as .deb from winehq, but 1.5.13 introduces the raw input patch is needed in order for the mouse-view to work in Kerbal Space Program

Please not that this was written down after I actually got everything up and running, so while everything might not be totally accurate, it should be enough to get you close.

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Stuff to install

This is just a little list of stuff I need to remember when doing a new Debian setup. Put the list of packages in a file somewhere, and do
dpkg –set-selections < packagefile
apt-get -u dselect-upgrade
to install. This list was valid for Debian 6.0, and should be ok for later releases as well, although you probably need to adjust the various library versions.
alsamixergui  install
binutils  install
build-essential  install 
calcoo    install
centerim-utf8  install
compiz    install
compiz-core  install
compiz-gnome  install
compiz-plugins   install
cscope    install
curl    install
debian-multimedia-keyring  install
deluge    install
filezilla  install
firefox-sage  install
furiusisomount  install
gcalctool   install

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Back again

Long story short, old blog had to be dumped due to spam due to not updating this and a few other blogs for a while. Old content (what little there was of it) is gone, but I’ll try to get some new stuff out every once in a while.

Right now though, I’m busy setting up my brand new shiny Raspberry Pi with RasBMC :D