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8/3/2005
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Linux In Your Lap!

Earlier this year, Linux Certified, a company based down in the South Bay, sent me a laptop system for a few weeks of tire-kicking. At the time, I planned to write a full review of the LC2210D but lacked the bandwidth to get it done. That's a shame, because Linux Certified delivered one of the smoothest experiences I've had using any laptop computer -- whether PC or portable, Linux or Windows. Now, they're also quite a bit less expensive, which gives

Earlier this year, Linux Certified, a company based down in the South Bay, sent me a laptop system for a few weeks of tire-kicking. At the time, I planned to write a full review of the LC2210D but lacked the bandwidth to get it done.

That's a shame, because Linux Certified delivered one of the smoothest experiences I've had using any laptop computer -- whether PC or portable, Linux or Windows. Now, they're also quite a bit less expensive, which gives me a good excuse to revisit the company and its products.Earlier this year, the LC2210D -- then as now, one of the company's workhorse laptop models -- struck me as reasonably priced. It wasn't really a stand-out deal, however, especially given the absence of the Windows tax that adds $150 or more to the cost of most laptops. The standard-config 1.8 GHz Intel Pentium M/Centrino system I reviewed, which included 512 MB of RAM (not 128MB as stated previously), a 14-inch display, CD-RW optical drive, 40 GB of storage, and a pre-installed Atheros 802.11b-g WLAN card cost, around $1,700 at the time.

The company also offers a Celeron M version of the system for around $200 less. I personally think a Celeron will waste a lot more than $200 worth of your time -- unless you're also stingy about buying RAM. In that case, a Celeron is just what you need.

Today, I learned that Linux Certified cut both prices, probably more than once: You can now get the Pentium M version of the 2210D for $1,159 and the Celeron M version for $959. These prices include the Centrino's built-in WLAN support, of course, although the company still recommends a $99 add-on Atheros card due to its superior driver support.

You can also pick from five supported Linux distros, including Fedora Core 3 (the distro on my system, which i recommend), Gentoo, Ubuntu 5.04, Debian Sarge (add $50) and SuSE Professional (add $119). I have seen at least one other review, dating back to May, involving an Ubuntu distro and a number of power-management issues that I didn't see on my system. I believe the distro was brand new at the time, so Linux Certified may well have swatted these bugs by now.

It still isn't the cheapest laptop on the market, but the hardware that visited me back in March was very impressive, and the price is now downright tempting. If you've wanted a Linux laptop but didn't want to get sucked into a never-ending support nightmare -- well, promising that won't happen with ANY laptop is just plain dumb. Based on what I saw, however, Linux Certified makes it far more likely you'll get a product that just works. And now you can get it at much better price than ever before.

If you go for it, let me know what you think -- unless it explodes, or the CD drive tears off your arm, or anything like that. In that case, never mind.

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