Libiquity Taurinus, Thinkpad X200
Meet, homefree200 and homefree202, Libiquity Taurinus X200 laptops. This is the first Respects Your Freedom Certified Laptop made and sold in the United States. As the name suggests, it's a X200 Thinkpad that has been carefully refurbished with Libreboot, free software friendly hardware and a GNU endorsed operating system. The price has dropped to less than $500 for this laptop, depending on the options. I got 8GB of RAM and extra stickers, which pushed the price up a little. It arrived in nearly perfect condition on April 30, 2016. I moved the Debian Wheezy drive from my X60 and got right to work with it. I liked my first one so much that I bought myself a second one for Christmas and finally moved myself to a GNU endorsed distribution, GNewSense. This is the laptop that I'll be using until the next generation of free as in freedom laptops is available.
After five months of use, the Taurinus became my all time favorite laptop. As it was with my X61s, Wheezy performs so well and I generate so many screen shots and happy reports, that I need a separate page for them to avoid clutter. My previous favorite laptop was my X30, which has served me for more than a decade. I expect the X200 to last about as long. It is particularly good at video editing. I'm continuing to do the things I've always done but with new software that's almost always better and in ways that respect my freedom more. After 16 months, and a few teething problems, it's still my favorite laptop.
The X200 is powerful enough to run virtual machines and I tried that out almost immediately, but quickly tired of it. QTemu, Qemu, and Virtual Box all worked well with free software, but Windows was the usual nightmare. An install of XP on QTemu is typical and it wore me out. An old Windows 98 install on QTemu was also painful but went a lot better than it once did. For all Libreboot virtualization, hardware acceleration must be turned off. That would not be the case if Intel had started cooperating with Coreboot instead of fooling with UEFI and other digital restrictions. Ultimately, software owners break your toys and you should avoid what they offer.
The first X200 had some unusual stability problems and I was unable to keep it running for more that a couple of weeks. Teething problems with virtual machines masked this. I can't say what's causing the problem. It's possible that Trisquel would not do this, but Debian has not done this to me on the X61s despite my FrankenDebian type modifications. The machine is still wonderful but place keeping is more difficult. After a good run with a 4BG drive, I started to think it was the 2 TB hard drive that the second X200 is now using. The second X200 has now been up for 60 days and the one I use every day has crashed several times with the 4GB drive, and I think it might be an transport issue. I'm going to try not switching on and off the second monitor to see if it's not a video issue.
KDE 4 had a Pulse Audio problem because it remembered X61s hardware but fixed itself when I ran kmix. My KDE dot files are probably what stored the older hardware settings. I think I remember this happening to me once about 12 years ago and KDE fixing it the same way. The glitch was annoying but now the X200 is an excellent audio device like most Thinkpads. While looking for the answer, I tried out several mixers.
Video editing on the X200 is wonderful. I used KDEnlive to make a highlight movie for a big Pink Spitfire flight. The X61s was able to do this kind of work. The X200 does it easily and has enough CPU left over for me to do other things while it renders. I'm able to scroll multiple hundred megabyte videos without stutter or other issues.
Right before Christmas of 2016, I I learned that I could stuff a 13 mm thick drive into the X200. I had tried to do this with the X61s, but the SATA attachment was positioned incorrectly. The X200 did not have this problem and, with a little grinding on the frame and bending of the keyboard, I was able to mount a 4TB drive. I promptly bought another Taurinus and installed GNewSense with the latest, stable, to the drive.
Elizabeth now has a Respects Your Freedom computer. I gave my Wheezy install to Elizabeth in my new X200, migrating her from a Wheezy install on an X61s, and will leave things that way until one of them crashes. At that time, I'll swap drives and maybe upgrade Libreboot on my older X200.
The move to GNewSense has been rewarding. It took a week or two, but I was able to clone all of my files from one laptop to the other. My X200 is working better with it than it was with Debian Wheezy and I'm getting my work done. Part of that is moving to TDE's version 14, which has better power management and status updating.
More than just getting work done, minor changes to software and ongoing tasks are leading me to new software and better ways of doing things. In just a few weeks, I've discovered much better ways of scanning books, an easier way to convert symlinks, a better way to get full screen movies, and better machine virtulization.
I'm starting to think my stability problem is caused by Trinity 16 (This was wrong. Trinity16 worked fine on an older Wheezy, X60 install when I needed stability.). The new operating system, new hard drive, and new version of TDE did not fix things for the older X200. After just 22 days up, I got a hard video freeze on January 31st. It happened after the TDE desktop overlay moved out of place. I don't think I have a screen grab of it. I might have been able to fix the problem by restarting my TDE session, but did not want to lose place keeping. Perhaps a newer version of E16, or Libreboot will help. Debian Wheezy is running two sessions of Trinity 16 without problems on the newer X200 that my daughter is using. I'm going to do the drive swap I promised myself when her X200 crashes.
I moved to Trisquel 7 at the end of March to get better browsers. I do not like the way Debian moved back to Firefox and wanted a more modern and free software respecting browser than that. Stability was not improved on my first run, so I started to changing the way I run Trinity 16. Migration to yet another 4TB drive and a Ubuntu derivative was mostly painless. It turns out that E16 compiles on Trisquel, so I have a newer version compiled against more modern libraries.
Trisquel lasted about six months. Stability was worse than either GNewSense or Debian Wheezy, as might be expected from Ubuntu, which mixes upstream packages on top of older Debian. When I needed real stability in June to get things done, I dropped back to an older Wheezy on an X60. The X60 was amazing in that roll, just as Wheezy was on my X61s back in 2011. Trisquel on the X200 did great as an always on, sitting in one place, laptop/desktop. I used it to rip CDs, manage my library, and light work or browsing where I could talk to the kids and wife. In mid September, I decided to make Debian Stretch mine on the X200 and Trisquel was retired to the same duty on an X61s.
Aside from a few hardware clock issues, the X200 is better than ever with Stretch. The install, like most free software upgrades, was like Christmas. There are a few software changes I'm not entirely happy about, but that's not the X200's fault and I could stick to GNewSense run stuff like Stretch in a virtual machine until the problems are fixed. I centainly enjoy having working certificates in Akregator and many of the improvements in KDE5. So far, it's handling all of my tasks as well or better than it did with Wheezy.
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