I swear, I have the most incompatible laptop ever. For some strange and inexplicable reason, my (not-so) unique combination of hardware makes it a very big pain to install anything other than Windows on my computer. Linux? Doesn’t like my video card or my wireless. Mac OS X (not that I’d ever try to install a hacked version of OS X on my computer)? Doesn’t like my video card, my sound, and my ethernet connection. Heck, even in Windows, nothing likes my video card. Damn Radeon Mobility. ATI refuses to provide support for my model, so I have to rely on Dell to provide timely driver updates…which they don’t.
I honestly don’t know why this laptop in particular is such a pain. I mean, it was only one of the most popular Inspiron laptop models Dell put out before the newest wave. I still think you can get it through their business store under the guise of 6400 (the home version was labeled E1505). The graphics card is all right, but it’s been the biggest thorn in my side when trying to install a) Windows games, or b) non-Windows operating systems. Ubuntu Linux was my arch-nemesis for a while, until I found out some guy actually modified an Ubuntu installation CD to work specifically on Dell E1505 systems with no tweaking or special knowledge of terminal commands required (the custom CD/DVD for the latest release of Ubuntu, 7.10, is still in beta, but the old disks for 7.04 are still perfectly workable). He’s got the right idea. Other developers don’t.
The thing is that people don’t make concessions for hardware like mine. The majority of hardware configurations work so they don’t take the time to fix things up for the small amount of incompatible configurations. It just bugs me that an entire laptop line gets thrown out the window for this. Okay, that’s not completely true. The big problems only show up if you have an ATI Radeon Mobility x1400 video card. I don’t know what it is about this particular card, but it can cause you major grief if you like Linux, hacked Mac OS X, or newer games. The most recent problem I encountered came when I tried playing Gears of War. I figured I’d be able to enjoy it at fairly low graphics settings, but the game crashed my computer when it started because I didn’t have the latest version of the Catalyst drivers for my card. This would be no problem…if Dell had released those drivers. ATI won’t give them to me (my hardware configuration, again, is incompatible, and they’re unwilling to develop alternate drivers for Dell systems). I had to fall back on third-party drivers, and I haven’t had the chance to test them out yet.
Some people tell me I shouldn’t be gaming on a laptop unless I shell out thousands of dollars for an Alienware or Dell XPS notebook. Others tell me I should just buy a desktop rig and trick it out. That would be nice, yes, and I intend on putting together a desktop gaming PC in the future, but for the time being, I have to make do with what I have. And I’m entitled to whine about it because I’m a poor, starving college student who knows better than to whip out the credit card and act like I don’t have to pay it off. So there.