New Toys – Laptop

I’ve now had the Philips X51 for a few days now, so it’s time for an update.

It’s a nice little laptop. About the same size as my previous one. Perhaps a bit larger and certainly a bit heavier, but that’s because it doesn’t come with a basestation so the CD/DVD drive is included in the main body.

The keyboard seems a bit strange. That’s probably just because the keys are in slightly different places to what I’m used to. In particular, the right-hand shift key is taking some getting used to.

It came with Windows XP installed. There’s a built-in Centrino so when I booted it up, it found my wireless network and I was on the net within seconds. Of course the first job was to download all of the Windows patches that had been released since the operating system had been installed. That took some time.

I didn’t spend very long in XP though as a computer only becomes truely useful when it has Linux installed on it. So that became the most important task. And the first job their was to reduce the size of the Windows partition so that there was space to install Linux. I was slightly disappointed to find that the installer for my prefered Linux distribution (Fedora) didn’t include a partition editor, but I found a magazine disk that contained a live distro which included qparted and that made it simple to reduce the XP partition from 50Gb to 10Gb. A quick reboot to ensure that XP still worked and I went back to installing Fedora.

One nice measure of how much quicker this laptop is than my previous one is the time it took to install Fedora. On my old laptop it look over four hours. This one did it in less than an hour.

The first major problem was discovering that although the Centrino was recognised, it didn’t work. Putting my old wireless card into the PCMCIA slot soon got me connected to the internet though. A quick bit of Googling revealed that the firmware for the chip isn’t included with Fedora as it is proprietary. It didn’t take long to find RPMs of the firmware (I used the versions from ATrpms but I see that Livna has them too).

At this point it looked like it was going to be too easy. But then I started to look at the power management features. My old laptop was old enough to support APM (which is a bit limited in functionality) but this one has ACPI. This has far better functionality. In particular, it supports suspending the computer when the laptop is closed. I was using this for a couple of days before I realised that the fan was still working in this mode. It turned out that the default action for closing the laptop is to just blank the screen rather than to suspend the computer. I was able to change it so that the computer suspended itself when it was closed, but then I discovered that it won’t come out of that state. I always seem to end up rebooting it – which isn’t very useful.

So that’s where I am at the moment. The laptop is great and it runs all the software I want far more quickly than my previous one, but I need to work out how to get it to suspend and unsuspend successfully.

More updates as I work it all out.


  1. I use the right-hand shit key. I’m left handed. I guess that pretty much proves it!Suspend-resume on laptops running Linux – seems always to be a problem for some reason.

  2. I asked around at university and I can’t find anyone who uses the right-hand shift key unless they’re left-handed or touch-typists (which nobody is!)As for se71’s use of the “right-hand shit key”, I prefer to write my own shit rather than have the computer generate it for me.

  3. I’ve just bought this same laptop and am taking a lot of flak from everyone for buying a Philips. So far, it’s worked brilliantly, though.I’m hoping it stays this way!

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