Windows, I Just Can’t Quit You

Warning: I am going to totally geek out in this post. This probably marks me as one of those evil tekki-wikkis destroying Second Life, but that’s just how I roll.

Tipa at West Karana tells about her blissful upgrade from Ubuntu to Mint this morning. I mention this because, well, I’m jealous.

I tried, once again, to move my laptop from Vista to Linux, using Mint this time. And again, I went back to Windows over one single issue: video driver support. Specifically, the embedded Radeon x600 in my year-and-a-half-old laptop. Apparently Radeon and Linux just don’t… get along.

I use my laptop chiefly as my ‘communications’ machine, and take it to and from work to check email, keep up with IMs, store files, listen to my MP3 collection while working, take notes, etc. I’ve been pretty happy with it, though I find I rarely use the tablet functionality as time wears on simply because I type much faster than I write and there’s no cultural aversion at NCsoft to people merrily typing away into laptops during meetings.

The programs I use most often on the laptop: Outlook, OneNote, Winamp, and Trillian. There’s Linux alternatives to all of these, though I could do with a better interface than Evolution (unfortunately as NCsoft uses Exchange, that’s really the only option) and note taking apps for Linux are still fairly primitive.

But the kicker: I need to be able to dock my laptop. And when I dock it using Vista, it smoothly switches from the 1280×768 internal widescreen display to an external 1280×1024 monitor. But with Linux, it …doesn’t. Despite repeated cajoling of .conf files, the best I can ever get is a madly flickering 1280×768 resolution on my external monitor, either mirrored or extended. Which, on a non-widescreen LCD monitor? Looks like *ass*.

So, I’d really like to walk around with a Linux laptop. I’m willing to give up tablet functionality to do it. But I’m *not* willing to give up my ability to dock to an external monitor. Linux, thou hast forsaken me! Or my video card. Which is kind of the same thing, really.