My .com client has a mid-sized server farm at a Savvis IDC in the US. Since they are an e-tailor Christmas is one of their busiest seasons. As part of this years ramp up we’ve purchased and installed many new servers for the website, most of which is dell hardware.
Each web server node in this install runs a variation of Red Hat Linux, consisting of a base RH-9 install with numerous add ons and tweaks specific to the company. Dell hardware is quite Linux friendly, my only real gripe is with their choice of network chipsets. Why is it that on an ultra cheap PE750 you get a good, well supported Intel 10/100/1000 ethernet controller but on a $4000 PE1750 you get a Broadcom 10/100/1000 controller?
I have never really had much luck with Broadcom based network cards, usually I have to fight with the buggy TG3 kernel driver or download and compile a driver module from broadcom that isn’t without it’s bugs. Both Cisco and Foundry enterprise grade switches seem to have auto-negotiation issues with the Broadcom chipset that ships in the dell hardware. This means I have to force both sides of the link to 100-FDX, which is a pain in the butt.
Also, I’ve recently had trouble with the new Dell Cerc (Adaptec) SATA raid cards and the Linux kernel. Both the 2.4.x and 2.6.x aacraid drivers that support the new Cerc card seem to crash under heavy I/O which doesnâ€™t really evoke confidence when you’re setting up a small fileserver. The last time this happened to me I ended up installing FreeBSD instead due to it’s much more stable Adaptec Raid controller support. Actually, in general I’ve had much better luck with Dell Perc cards based on AMI megaraid chipsets, the Linux driver for these seems quite stable and has been for a long time.
Anyone want to give me 512mb of ram for my Ultra 5? No? I didn’t think so. Playing with MySQL clustered, trying to cobble together a working cluster to run some tests on.
I quite like my new Dell Inspiron 8600. It seems to the perfect meld of performance and portability. My other laptop, an Averatec 3150 while ultra portable (~4lbs) lacks the performance I need to replace my P4 desktop system. This new dell is definatly big but it’s still lighter and smaller than a lot of the desktop replacements out there.
The WUXGA screen at 1920×1200 is amazingly clear and bright. The 1.8 Ghz dothon core processor is deceptively fast while still maintaining 3+ hours of battery life. It’s definatly faster than my P4 2.4Ghz desktop processor and it seems to run cool (sometimes I think my averatec is going to melt into a puddle on my desk). The fans are also quite silent and come on very rarely.
The 100GB drive is HUGE for a 2.5 inch notebook drive. I have dedicated 60GB to Windows XP and 40GB to Fedora Core 2. The ATI Radeon 9600 pro turbo is a fast graphics card, I would say it is faster than my Nvidia FX5600. Unfortunatly ATI’s linux driver support is still not as refined as nvidia’s but most of my 3D gaming is on my XP partition anyway.
I really like the wifi range with the dell, places in my house where the averatec is seeing 30% signal the dell is still seeing perfect signal. I would attribute that to better antenna design but it could also be the integrated intel wifi.
My main gripe with this new laptop is it’s integrated CDRW/DVD+RW drive. Although the drive performs flawlessly I wish it used the more popular DVD-RW format. My other DVD burner is a -RW format so all my -RW discs are wasted on this new drive. Maybe I’ll get an external USB enclosure so I can still burn my old -RW format. Anyway, that’s a small issue.
Never buy meat that comes in a white bucket. (Sobeys Pork Riblets… ewww)
I finally got my new laptop, hooray. First impressions are good so far, the screen is awesome, 1920×1200 pixels in 15.4 inches. Very clear and crisp. The ATI radeo 9600 pro turbo is also quite nice, I can play BF1942 in 1600×1200 mode at 32 bit no problem. I thought the 5400 rpm drive was going to be a bit of a speed problem but so far it hasn’t made a noticable difference.
While this notebook dawarfs my averatec 3150 in size it’s still quite managable, not much larger than my old toshiba tecra 8100 that I lugged around for 3 years. The best part about the Inspiron 8600 is the new dothon core pentium M chip, it’s faster than my P4 2.8Ghz and it lets my laptop have 4.5 hours of battery life. More than enough to watch a couple dvd’s while on the plane.
I will post a proper review when I’ve lugged it around for a week or two.