New Lemur 4 Laptop

I have (another) new laptop. It is a Lemur 4 from System 76. While I can't say that I love it, I can say that it seems like a good system.

The computers I love are IBM T-series ThinkPads where the specific model is 43 or less. I have had a couple of T20s, a T22, a T23, a T42 and a T43. Unfortunately, they are all a bit long in the tooth. While my T43 is still happy, this purchase was inspired by the fact that I have to put my T42 in the oven in order to get it to work. Yes, I live in a high humidity area so I am not blaming the T42 but I need a reliable laptop and a backup. The T42 no longer qualifies as a reasonable backup.

I decided to buy the Lemur 4 with Linux installed as I am sick of having to "fix things". I wanted an out of the box working system. That's the good news. The bad news is that I have been a KDE man since people were running Windoze 3 and System 76 only ships systems with Gnome in the flavor of Ubuntu.

Since KDE4 became "the thing" I have continued to become more and more irritated. KDE4 has a bad case of featuritis. Some of those new features are nice or at least look cool but I would rather have something where all the pieces work. I have stuck with KDE because Gnome has tended to irritate me more. Well, it still does but hardware changed the balance and here I am with Ubuntu.

The other vendor is Zareason. They offer an assortment of Linux sytems with software options including Kubunu. Unfortunately, they are behind in hardware. The Lemur 4 offers a USB 3 port which seems like the future for external storage.

The Hardware

So far, not bad. Here are the pluses:

  • It is quiet. Solid state disk and the fan is almost a non-fan.
  • Reasonable battery life. It is looking like about 4 hours which is double the T43.
  • The screen is really nice.
  • It weighs less and is smaller that the T43 but not is a it's going to break way. The T43 is clearly sturdier but this seems a lot better than, for example, the Toshiba I had.

On the minus side we have:

  • No keyboard light. That is apparently unique to ThinkPads but is very cool.
  • The Thouchpad is irritating. For most people it is probably above average but I am basically a Touchpad hater. The T42/T43 ones are the only ones I have actually liked.
  • The keyboard is fine. That is, the T4x keyboard is amazing. This one is just fine.
The Software

Unity (is that its name?) is this new any idiot can use it GUI which is the default with Ubuntu. It is not quite as irritating as I had expected. Let me explain.

I normally have a web browser and a terminal window up. That's it. The GUI is, for me, just a way that the broswer can work. Yes, sometimes I run other applications that are graphical but I care about the application, not all the BS. So, with Unity I get the following:

  • Four desktops that are easy to get to.
  • An easy way to start a browser and a semi-easy way to start a terminal window.
  • If I care, a file manager.

So, I am adjusting. The main thing I have learned is that there is so much stuff that KDE supplies that I really don't want. It's good "impress your friends" stuff but it isn't what I need or want on my laptop. The biggest problem so far is the Touchpad. We'll see if I can adjust to it.



A few months later ...

Well, here I am in November still using the Lemur. The good news is that all the good things I said are still good things. I continue to be totally amazed with the screen and the speed of the SS disk. Note that I was going to say boot-up time but rebooting is not something I generally do. The machine is either in use of sleeping.

The bad news is that I still hate the touchpad. Now, I hate most touchpads with the T42/T43 being the only touchpad that I really was comfortable with. That is still the case. The Lemur is the worst touchpad in my life.

Why? Because it is totally level with the surface of the palm rest. Yeah, I know we are not supposed to be resting our palms there but I do -- particularly when I am using the laptop on my lap. I finally gave up on learning how to use it right (after lots of entered text got lost) and have disabled taps. While it still remains, for me, the worst touchpad I have ever used at least this prevents my bad habits from having big consequences.

If I am not using it on my lap, a mini-mouse is my solution. As for the no light and the keyboard, they remain as I previously described them.

Bottom line is that I would much rather be using my T43. This is clearly a better travel machine but the T43 is clearly a better work machine. If I could buy a new T43-like computer (that is, with the amazing keyboard, a touchpad that works for me, keyboard light and durability) without the Microsoft tax, I would. ThinkPads were never designed to be cheap. With the amount of time I use a computer, the cost difference is unimportant.