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#1 2013-02-07 08:05:15

Bad Company
Member
From: Prague, CZ
Registered: 2013-01-27
Posts: 31
Website

ThinkPenguin - How is it?

Hey guys,

I recently discovered thinkpenguin.com and was curious if any of you ever did any business with them. If so, what's your experience?

Thanks

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Be excellent to each other!

#2 2013-02-08 00:18:53

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,418

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

I don't have any experience with them. However I just want to mention that briefly looking over their laptops, that they charge an arm and a leg for some of the upgrades. It costs an additional $99 to buy the 500GB hard disk. With that money you can buy a 1TB disk retail or a small SSD. They charge $62 for 4GB of memory. If you buy the memory yourself you can get more (8GB) for less ($50). $13 for a 2GB USB flash drive? Say what!

Edit: Just to add, not even manufacturers like Dell charge you so much for upgrades.

Last edited by anonymous (2013-02-08 00:21:27)

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#3 2013-02-08 19:43:15

Bad Company
Member
From: Prague, CZ
Registered: 2013-01-27
Posts: 31
Website

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

That is a very constructive response, thanks for that.

The company claims that the prices are so high because you are guaranteed that the components will work out of the box with any OS without any drivers. Nonetheless, it does seem a tad overpriced. I was just curious if anyone had any experience with the items they're offering and if it's worth the hassle - or rather worth the buck.

Not that I wish to spend that much on a computer, but some of the accessories look interesting. Namely the keyboard. Not sure I ever saw a dedicated keyboard for Linux

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#4 2013-02-08 21:34:45

schwim
#! Die Hard
From: Interweb's #1 Devotee
Registered: 2012-10-11
Posts: 604

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

Their reasoning is fairly lame when you stop to ponder what memory out there isn't compatible with linux. They just upped their prices across the board.

They, like most linux-specific vendors are banking on the fanatic in us to override our common sense.

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#5 2013-02-08 21:51:10

intoCB
Scatweasel
Registered: 2012-10-25
Posts: 1,907

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

That's not fair. Wanting to buy a Linux laptop is natural when all you wish to run is Linux.

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#6 2013-02-08 22:01:39

schwim
#! Die Hard
From: Interweb's #1 Devotee
Registered: 2012-10-11
Posts: 604

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

There is no such thing as a linux laptop.  There are only laptops marketed as being for linux, which will cost you more.

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#7 2013-02-08 22:07:49

intoCB
Scatweasel
Registered: 2012-10-25
Posts: 1,907

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

Yes, I agree. I want the cheap laptops not to include Windows. I don't need it.

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#8 2013-02-09 01:02:00

th3pun15h3r
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2011-11-22
Posts: 510

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

I actually just ordered a dual band wireless n pci adapter for my ubuntu machine since ive had heck of a time with other usb adapters to connect to my router with ndiswrapper etc...  It was 60 some bucks with USPS shipping and hopefully will get it tomorrow.  For specific parts like wifi adapters it seemed worth it for the price if they can guarrantee easy no hassle setup with linux which I was having getting asus n13 and wnda3100 v2 usb adapters.  Anyway, I will update this post when I receive it and let you know my feedback on how the adapter install and setup goes.

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#9 2013-02-09 04:04:57

shengchieh
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-01-07
Posts: 616

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

You're welcomed to visit my website

http://shengchieh.50webs.com/tuxslinks.html
-> Retailers
-> Linux pre-installed vendors (including laptops)

I have a lono list of linux retailers (which includes servers and desktops).

Sheng-Chieh

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#10 2013-02-10 22:25:06

julia_te
New Member
Registered: 2013-02-10
Posts: 3

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

ThinkPenguin is doing more than anybody to fix the hardware problem. They are working with the likes of Atheros to get out a newer USB adapter that is properly supported for example. Dell, System76, and others are contributing to the problem by comparison by using chipsets that are dependent on proprietary software. The reason the companies stuff works so well out of the box is because they understand the problems facing less technical users. There is no way Linux would work for a lot of people without ThinkPenguin (and not to mention for those of us whose time isn't worthless).

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#11 2013-02-10 22:38:39

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,418

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

I have to ask: are you affiliated with ThinkPenguin?

Anyways, for wireless chipsets (or any hardware), having completely open-source drivers only matters for some people. Intel's wireless may require non-free firmware, however the hardware is good and the Linux drivers do work well. It is no different than using the proprietary drivers for AMD or NVIDIA.

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#12 2013-02-11 00:03:00

julia_te
New Member
Registered: 2013-02-10
Posts: 3

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

anonymous wrote:

I have to ask: are you affiliated with ThinkPenguin?

Anyways, for wireless chipsets (or any hardware), having completely open-source drivers only matters for some people. Intel's wireless may require non-free firmware, however the hardware is good and the Linux drivers do work well. It is no different than using the proprietary drivers for AMD or NVIDIA.


It isn't just a matter for purely free distributions. It isn't just a matter for "some" people. Most people aren't on Linux because Linux users are unaware and point others to products that don't really work or barely work. Non-free drivers/firmware are a major problem across distributions and saying it's OK just ensures the problems continue. It might be an ethical issue for the free software community although its problems cross borders. People continue buying Lexmark printers (as an example) amongst other products that lose support and are difficult or impossible to maintain. This ensures the less technical users give up and revert back to Windows. The only way to solve it is to stop accepting "good" proprietary drivers. The proprietary drivers can't be properly maintained, fixed, or updated by the community. Linus was moaning just the other week about NVIDIA which is known for doing a “good job” with releasing/supporting proprietary drivers. Unfortunately it doesn't really work for the masses.

The funny thing is Windows has the same problem. The only difference is the support cycle for core OS software is longer. Users aren't forced to upgrade so the issue is less apparent.

Last edited by julia_te (2013-02-11 00:11:57)

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#13 2013-02-11 00:13:56

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,418

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

julia_te wrote:

It isn't just a matter for purely free distributions. Non-free drivers/firmware are a major problem across distributions and saying it's OK just ensures the problems continue.

What problems exactly?

julia_te wrote:

The proprietary drivers can't be properly maintained, fixed, or updated by the community.

Of course not, but that doesn't mean the developers/company themselves can't do a decent job of maintaining them.

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#14 2013-02-11 01:27:38

julia_te
New Member
Registered: 2013-02-10
Posts: 3

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

anonymous wrote:
julia_te wrote:

It isn't just a matter for purely free distributions. Non-free drivers/firmware are a major problem across distributions and saying it's OK just ensures the problems continue.

What problems exactly?

There are too many to list although I can give a few common examples:

* Missing features (certain power management features for instance in proprietary graphics drivers, critical to some, not so much to others)
* Drivers which are produced for printers that aren't maintained (Samsung, Canon, Lexmark, etc)
* Wifi drivers which half work (lots of lost packets, etc) and frequently create stability issues in the system

anonymous wrote:
julia_te wrote:

The proprietary drivers can't be properly maintained, fixed, or updated by the community.

Of course not, but that doesn't mean the developers/company themselves can't do a decent job of maintaining them.

It isn't good enough is the problem. It might be OK for you to lose support for a printer after a few OS upgrades. It isn't OK for the majority. Nobody maintains the proprietary software indefinitely and with frequent OS upgrades and monolithic kernel the best approach is proper support out of the box. Trying to disquisition between those that do a "good job" with the proprietary drivers and those which don't is too much anyway. It is how we end up with so much bad advice being given.

For you "good proprietary drivers" might be "good enough". But then again you probably aren't most people. Most people don't upgrade there hardware every six months and replace the hardware every 2 years because of some proprietary driver being discontinued.

If everything doesn't just work and the developer community can't support it (provide fixes, maintain in in the mainline kernel, or other major open source project) then it isn't good enough for the majority to take up. The only way you can ensure proper support for the majority of end users is to point them to systems and products that are free software friendly and can be supported easily by less technical people (and this is irregardless of the distributions inclusion of other non-free software pieces).

Non-free software is in general a major problem for less savvy Linux users. Oracle discontinued the proprietary license recently which allowed for redistribution of there proprietary version of Java. This forced Canonical to pull Oracle Java from Ubuntu users machines (done for security reasons). That resulted in millions of users running into trouble with gaming web sites not working. The same is going to be happening with Adobe's Flash (discontinued for firefox on Linux). The difference with it is the security updates will continue for 11.2 (I believe) for 5 years. However web sites are going to demand users upgrade (and in the case of Linux won't be able to). It is slightly better than the Oracle Java fiasco in that Google will be supporting newer Adobe Flash versions within Chrome on Linux. So should a user need it they could in theory just install Chrome (not to diminish what a major issue even that is for less savvy users).

Fortunately there are a few companies and people that are doing a pretty good job. It gets a bit technical though to point people to a dozen specific chipsets though and say "go find a system with X, Y, and Z in it" or even a major product because the model numbers don't equate to the chipsets. There may be only one system with such a combination of chipsets as another point of mention. Even then there may be other issues. If there is only one Dell model (and no others whom manufacture with a similar combo of chipsets) with a particular combination of good chipsets it might not work. Dell, Lenovo/IBM, Toshiba, and HP all ship with systems that make replacing the wifi card near impossible. They use digital restrictions in the BIOS to prevent the swapping of mini pcie cards. Acer, Asus, and some others though aren't quite as hostile to Linux. Although are still going to be too technical for the average joe to get up and running on Linux.

Intel, Atheros, HP, and some others do a pretty good job in at least some categories. HP has a lot of very good documentation on its printers. Not all HP printers are created equal though. Fortunately if you know what your looking for you can narrow it down based on the publicly available documentation @ http://hplipopensource.com/hplip-web/index.html. Atheros is generally a good bet, although, not everything is safe. I think most of the wifi chipsets are safe. I know they have a bluetooth wifi combo that isn't though. Intel is OK for the graphics although not great for the BIOS. AMD is good on the BIOS front although not good on the graphics front.

A lot of current Linux users will not have noticed the issues that crop up for one reason or another. Maybe the feature doesn't matter to them or they have multiple printers so they just switch them. Or they just aren't significant enough of issues or they are techy enough to work around them. Maybe flashing your Lenovo's laptop's BIOS so you can swap the Broadcom wifi card that doesn't work for an Intel one is easy for you. For most people though they'd go "a what with what?". Posting on a forum is beyond them and the cost to have a tech (provided they could even find one) fix the "wifi doesn't work" issue doesn't work. The price and time required to fix it skyrockets out of control.

Stuff needs to just work. This is something that Linux world really needs to get on top of if things are going to get better.

Last edited by julia_te (2013-02-11 01:33:40)

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#15 2013-02-11 02:31:22

anonymous
The Mystery Member
From: Arch Linux Forums
Registered: 2008-11-29
Posts: 9,418

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

So basically the issue is when a company decides to discontiue support for a particular device or series of devices and in turn stops developing the (proprietary) driver. Having open source drivers would at least let the community continue it. Ok fair enough.

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#16 2013-02-12 01:40:31

th3pun15h3r
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2011-11-22
Posts: 510

Re: ThinkPenguin - How is it?

UPDATE:  I just got my wifi card today.  At first it didn't seem to work but that was because my pci slot was dirty and the connectors on the card got dirt on them.  After I blew the card and the slot, worked right out of he box.  1080p streaming youtube no install or ndiswrapper.  Its good in my book smile

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