peteg's blog - hacking - 2018 08 22 LenovoIdeapad120s

A Lenovo Ideapad 120S-KH (11", 32Gb storage, 4Gb memory).

/hacking | Link

I've been meaning to get a machine I could afford to lose while traveling for a while now. Much like using a ZTE ZIP exclusively as a 4G modem/router, it took me a while to find the right category: netbooks are dead, ultrabooks are expensive, Chromebooks expect omnipresent connectivity, tablets may or may not be hackable, ARM laptops are rare or not cheap. In the end I went for what Harvey Norman had in the bottom of the barrel.

First up: they listed a DN variant for $198 alongside this KH for $238, billed as "super Saturday" 20% discounts which of course roll on and on. The in-store experience at Bondi Junction on Sunday past was as horrible as rumour had it: there was only the demo one on the floor to be had, and after assuring me that the KH has an SSD (it doesn't), the salesdroid proceeded with the hard sell of some kind of useless insurance. I walked; it's so much less hassle to buy it online for $238 and $8 in shipping. JBHifi was selling something similar for a lot more. I picked it up today from the Randwick post office after lunch with Dariusz.

There are many variants out there, and it's hard to sex these chickens: eMMC or SSD? How much RAM? Just how poor are the Celerys these days? etc. I have no idea how the cheaper model differed and have no faith in Harvey Norman's online descriptions (which say this thing has an HDD). In summary: the screen is a bit crap, the keyboard is pretty good, the two-button trackpad is a bit weird, the battery seems to go forever, it's a kilo. Overall it feels like a bargain. Apparently it has USB3 and USB-C, and there's a webcam, none of which I have tried out yet. The microSD slot works.

It came with Windows 10, which was a bit of fun to interact with by speaking until it came time to accept the licence; there's no option to decline, and I guess the days of getting refunds are over as Microsoft's keys are in the BIOS. I've been using Mac OS X for about 15 years, and only installing Debian in virtual machines, so it came as a pleasant surprise to see how smooth things run now: the millennials sure have been busy. (It still takes a lot of config, but nothing as fiddly as the olden times.) I settled on XFCE, and my jaw hit the floor when Chromium played the rugby straight off the Channel 10 webstream with no futzery. I haven't got the sound going yet; some cursory diagnostics suggested that the infrastructure is there but somehow not talking to the output device. Isabelle built just fine. About half the storage remains free.

There are a few reassuring blog posts out there: Jon Williams, reddit.