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Old 05-08-2012, 12:33 PM   #1
Registered: Sep 2010
Location: Chattanooga, TN.
Distribution: Redhat, AIX, CentOS
Posts: 30

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Need some suggestions for a Business laptop that is not Gnome 3

Hello everyone. I would like to ask for suggestions. I am a Redhat administrator by career, and my director has given me permission to move off of Windows on my company laptop (we're a huge Windows shop). I am needing some suggestions for what you guys are using on your work machines for a desktop environment.

I currently have a Dell E5420 laptop and I use it in a E-series port replicator docking station at work. It has an alps touchpad, and this whole combination I have found to not be linux friendly.
I have tried Fedora 16 and Fedora 17 beta, and found I absolutely hate Gnome 3.
I have also found that the alps touchpad is crazy sensitive in just about every distro I have tried so far.

My natural reflex was to use one of my RHEL entitlements on my laptop and connect it to RHN for updates instead of our Satellite server. So, I installed RHEL6 workstation, and updated it. Of course, its using the Gnome 2 DE, and is very familiar to me. This was almost perfect, except for the touchpad. The current Redhat kernel does not have any support for touchpad scrolling or multi-touch so the touchpad was pretty much dead to me. I searched trying to find a module I can use for it, but Dell and Alps seem to hate linux. Power management was horrible on this kernel since it really wasnt designed for laptops. But, the docking station worked flawlessly. So I tried a few other distros.

I tried the next best thing, Fedora 16. I found the touchpad features all worked great since the Fedora team included the fixes in the kernel. EXCEPT the touchpad was insanely sensitive. It was unusable. The docking station was useless in Fedora 16 since when it was docked, it would never recognize the external monitors. I also discovered I hate Gnome 3. I also tried Fedora 17 beta with the same results.

Now, I am needing suggestions on what to try next. I am looking for something .RPM based since I do packaging in my job and its whats familiar to me. Hell, I would happy running RHEL 6 Workstation if I could the touchpad to work 100% in it.
Give me some suggestions on what to try next, and will report back with my results. Any help is greatly appreciated!
Old 05-08-2012, 01:22 PM   #2
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Maybe CentOS 6? It is from RHEL sources so would be very familiar to you. You could then get extensions for it from the CentOS extended repositories that have non-RHEL standard stuff. Also it would free up one of your RHEL entitlements to be used for servers.

Alternatively maybe the EPEL hosted by Fedora would have something that would give you the right functionality for your RHEL6 install. Here again it is designed to work with RHEL but isn't part of the RedHat officially supported distribution. (That is to say it works but you can't call RedHat about it if it doesn't.)

You might want to verify everything you need to do your job will run on Linux - for many of us who work in commercial environments as much as we loath M$ Windoze we live with it because we have to trade files with others in the organization and/or there are administrative tools for products we support that only work on Windows.
Old 05-08-2012, 01:39 PM   #3
Registered: Sep 2010
Location: Chattanooga, TN.
Distribution: Redhat, AIX, CentOS
Posts: 30

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Thanks for the reply. So far, Most of what I need I can run in Linux. I have purchased (I also advocate for) Codeweavers Crossver, and I plan on using that for Office 2010 to work with my Windows Colleagues. I am still looking for a good Active Directory management tool like ADUC. I have thought about just running a slim Windows 7 VM on KVM for stuff like that when I do need to work in AD.

I run CentOS on my home machines, but I didnt think to try it on this laptop. I will give it a shot tonight and see how the touchpad works in it. I normally use EPEL and RPMForge combined with Yum priorities so I will try a kernel from one of those repos to see if it has better power management and touchpad support.

I really really want to like Fedora 16/17 since the power management was excellent and boot up and shutdown was crazy fast, but I just have no love for Gnome 3
Has anyone tried the KDE or XFCE spins on Fedora?
Old 05-09-2012, 02:27 PM   #4
Registered: Apr 2010
Location: Cluj, Romania
Distribution: Debian Testing
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I dont use rpm-based distros (Debian fan), but i can tell you that Xfce is very good - it is light, fast and stable (at least on Debian). I use it on both my desktop and laptop and works great. Just use 4.8 or higher (many fixes and built in gvfs support).


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