New Laptop

The new laptop arrived today — a Dell with a 17″ monitor.

I was configuring the pre-installed operating system when Glyph showed up. Naturally, he encouraged me to install Linux. Naturally, the Linux he encouraged me to install was Ubuntu.

I protested. It would be too risky, too complicated. The hardware wouldn’t be properly supported.

So, we compromised. I’d try the LiveCD.

Which I did. X11 failed to start. My video card wasn’t supported. Oh, well. Nice try.

Naturally, the Glyph is not one to be dissuaded so easily. Heh, he opined. Upgrading the display drivers in Ubuntu is trivial. Nothing to it. Plus, it recognized the wireless device. That was the hard part.

I protested. It would be too risky, too complicated. I’d have to repartition and re-install that pre-installed operating system.

Glyph’s argument consisted of two words (or one, if you think he might have been using a trademark). Partition. Magic.

So, half an hour later, I was rebooting into the Ubuntu install CD.

Damned if the thing didn’t auto-detect my display device, and configure it in glorious 1920×1200 resolution. With stereo sound. Everything worked.

Everything. Just. Worked.

Colour me impressed.

Well, almost everything. There are a few little things. The touch-pad tapping feature drives me crazy. Under the pre-installed operating system I could configure it off. But apparently, in order to do so under Ubuntu, I have to figure out how to apply a kernel patch and rebuild the kernel. Developing the appropriate muscle memory and finger co-ordination may be easier. Or maybe I’ll just use the trackball like I do for the PowerBook.

And then there is the matter of configuring it so that when I close the lid, it hibernates. That’s tomorrow’s project.

Oh, by the way. Did I mention that this isn’t a personal laptop? It’s a corporate laptop.



The balance of power between personal and corporate has had some interesting shifts over the last century — and it hasn’t all gone in the direction of the corporate.

It occurred to me that the Hollywood studio system was the ascendency of the company over the individual. Over time, however, the studio system broke down, and stars became brands in their own right. Rather than signing a studio contract and working on whatever movies are being produced by “the company”, actors work on projects of their own choosing.

In the sports world, the system of free agency shifted the balance between corporate (team) control, and the individual control. Over the years, players have acquired more individual control over their careers and working conditions.

In both cases (movies and sports), the greater emphasis on the personal resulted in increased earning power for the individual as well.

So, in the software world, is the Open Source movement akin to the drive for free agency, or the breakup of the studio system? Is it an opportunity for programming stars to emerge and prosper greatly? Is there a parallel in the software world for the waiter or receptionist who is really an actor. Didn’t the shift in control from companies to the individuals result paradoxically in even greater profits for both the companies and the individuals?

I wonder what other industries have seen a similar evolution.