View Full Version : [ubuntu] serval mini-review

July 10th, 2008, 05:20 PM
i recently found myself in need of a new laptop, which is a dilemma in itself because i hate laptops. ;)
my intent was to install ubuntu on it, since windoze is pretty-much obsolete for me. after checking prices
on name-brand units at the local retailers and online, i searched for linux-only laptops and eventually
settled on a system76 serval... mostly due to their reputation, good prices, support here in the forums
and because they build ubuntu-only.

my only concern was the time factor, as i needed it asap and the system76 website quotes 4-6 days to ship.
i was surprised to receive a shipping notice via email the day after i ordered and thrilled when the unit
showed up the day after that.

the laptop itself is a very sturdy and the lid hinges are not flimsy or loose, as i've seen in a lot of
other laptops.

the included one-sheet getting started guide outlined the simple steps to getting going- set up your user
and region and click to install drivers. it also simple backup and restore procedures.

once the hardy desktop (amd64) booted, a quick systems-check showed that all of the important hardware
was functional out-of-the-box, including: wireless, bluetooth, touch-pad and webcam. the only device i
could find that was not functional is the built-in fingerprint reader- and a quick search showed that
they are working on getting the drivers going on this.

the built-in microphone was "not working", but a quick search of this forum, adjusting the sound preferences
and it was sorted out in less than five minutes. unfortunately, the quality of the mic is quite dodgy
(static and poor quality), but my reading on this says that it is due to ALSA(?). regardless, the built-in
mic is not very important to me.

the screen is bright and clear and the built-in speakers are more than adequate for my needs, although
a little "tinny" and "thin"... but hey, that's what headphones are made for, right?

as an added plus, suspend and resume is flawless out-of-the-box.

for the record, the unit i configured was:

serval performance:
Core 2 Duo T8300 2.4 GHz 800 MHz
nVidia 512 MB GeForce 8600M GT
2 GB - 2 x 1 GB DDR2 667 MHZ
200 GB 7200 RPM SATA
802.11 agn wireless

i was concerned that it comes pre-installed with hardy 64bit only. being the idiot i am (and
having had nightmares in the early 64 bit days), i still believed the common myth that the 64 bit
distro is a nightmare when it comes to finding drivers and software packages that work correctly
or are not insanity-inducing to install. i'm happy to say that yes, this is a myth- i have been
installing and configuring this thing sixteen ways from sunday and have failed to find a package that
did not install and work right the first time. :)


fast, friendly service
competitive prices
quality hardware
out-of-the-box functionality
forum support
ubuntu only vendor :D


fingerprint reader not functional yet (if you care about that)
built-in microphone is currently dodgy
OS install CD is not included.

in summary, i would encourage anyone looking for an ubuntu laptop to give system76 serious consideration.
i am very impressed and very satisfied with my experiences with them- from the friendly phone order,
right through to booting it up and running it. these seem to be quality units from a quality vendor and
system76 deserves all of the support our community can give them.

July 12th, 2008, 12:04 AM
Fingerprint reader actually isn't advertised as part of the deal, mind you. And it will be functional quite soon - a working driver is now available :)

July 12th, 2008, 12:11 AM
Fingerprint reader actually isn't advertised as part of the deal, mind you. And it will be functional quite soon - a working driver is now available :)

agreed- it is not advertised. but since it is included and support is on
the way, i thought i would mention it. ;)

July 14th, 2008, 03:25 PM
Carl got the fingerprint reader working. However, it is still a bit buggy and doesn't really operate in a way that makes sense. But it is integrated into Gnome.

Shouldn't be long now.

July 16th, 2008, 03:10 AM
OS install CD is not included.

You know, this may because most of us that have bought from System76 already have Ubuntu CD's from Canonical or via download.

July 16th, 2008, 03:37 PM
System76 does not supply install CD's. There is a very good reason for this.

Ubuntu progresses so quickly that by the time you get your computer, or shortly thereafter, you would have so many updates to install *after* using the install CD that it would take you twice as long to completely re-image your computer.

It's best to download and install *current* images from ubuntu.com/downloads every once in a while. That way you get the most up-to-date version (and quite possibly a version without bugs that might have been contained in earlier versions).

I realize that there are people who really *need* us to send them a cd for various reasons, and we do try to accommodate these folks as much as possible. But, in general, us sending out install CD's would be *much* less helpful than one might suppose.

July 16th, 2008, 03:44 PM
Yeah, makes sense. Some people find Ubuntu 5.04 cd's still...