computers Science and Technology

An SSD on an HP TX-2 Laptop with Linux

I recently purchased an OCZ Vertex 2 Solid State Hard Drive. The price per gig is enormous ($220 after taxes, in-store warranty, and mail-in rebate for a 120 gig hard drive), but is just the size to install the operating system and any applications I like. I generally don’t use the main hard drive (or C: drive) for documents, graphics, or anything else that would be user-created, which is a protection in  case of failure.

I wanted to see how this thing would make my tablet sing, and what I initially wanted was to install the original backup that came with my HP TX2 tablet, and that was from a Future Shop backup that I paid $100.00 for. The backup failed, and I had to order system recovery disks from HP, and I had them couriered to me at my expense the next day (it’s nice when you live in the same city as one of the HP warehouses!).

I have been using my current laptop since about summer 2009, and have been reasonably happy with the device. I am currently running W7, and have found that performance degrades in approximately 1-year cycles. This summer, I decided to invest in a solid state 120G SATA 2 drive, which was quite a sacrifice in storage space from my roomy 500G “conventional” notebook drive, itself a replacement from a failed stock drive that shipped with it and lasted a year.

I needed to wait for recovery CDs to be shipped from HP (the original failed hard drive took the backups with it), and while I was doing so, I tried installing Ubuntu 11.04 to see what would happen. A reboot later, and I found that the pen, my finger, and the touchpad all worked with zero configuration. For those missing a Windows Journal replacement, there are at least 3 that are out there, but only xournal installed properly using

sudo apt-get install xournal

It also worked properly. I now learned that xournal is superior to MS Journal in that it supports the use of rulers and can also interpret your pen strokes as circles, quadrilaterals, triangles or straight lines when a tool button is pressed.

I didn’t see a way to turn off the “finger touch” option. Finger touch is a pain when using a pen, since it throws off your pen strokes and the mouse generally. If there was a way to turn it off, I didn’t find it. I also didn’t find anything that would calibrate things like sensitivity, or recalibrate the n-Trig system if things go haywire. In this case, this moment of nirvana only lasted one reboot. In the next reboot, the Ubuntu splash screen malfunctioned and registered an error message, and the mouse behaved unpredictably.

One thing, however, the loading speed of the program was noticeably faster, due largely to the new SSD. Libre Office loaded almost as fast as vi.

But even so, a vastly improved performance on this unit over Linux versions from last year. I am now sitting through the interminable Software Install screen for the original Vista OS it was shipped with, which will provide factory settings (3 hours running so far, not sure why it would take that long). I intend to make a small partition at the end of the drive for Linux, and another smaller one for swap space. I am doing this because I was curious as to what had gone wrong with the installation to cause it to behave awkwardly on subsequent reboots.

I also noticed that there isn’t a way to rotate the screen. I read mostly from posts in 2009 that no driver had been developed yet, and obviously no driver made it into the Ubuntu codebase for me to take advantage of.

The TX2 also allows me to run Linux from a bootable USB stick, and check things from that vantage point in case I change my mind and decide to use the entire SSD disk for Windows.

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