Wifi problems with Elementary OS Freya on the ideapad 100

This week I had a problem where wifi suddenly stopped working on my Lenovo ideapad 100 15iby running Elementary OS Freya. I don't know what happened, but suddenly the machine refused to work with any access points. It would say I was connected, and I would have an IP address from DHCP... but there was no actual connection working. Chrome would just complain there was no internet, for example.

I ended up having to rebuild the Realtek rtl8723be wifi driver from the source repository here: https://github.com/lwfinger/rtlwifi_new/ but actually that was not too bad, because the instructions are quite simple. I just had to follow this post which seemed to work fine for me. But I did need to disable the sleep feature of the driver, which is mentioned as an extra step in the instructions. Otherwise the connection would keep dropping and then prompting me for my wifi password all the time.

So that was a slightly annoying problem! But I am pleased to have it sorted out. As I'm writing this I'm downloading a 750Mb file to make sure it's all OK. I'm currently at 500Mb and all is fine, so hopefully that's a job well done.

I have also noticed that Elementary OS Loki is now released, but there is no upgrade route from Freya, so I need to find some free time to do a backup and clean install. Hopefully that will be a smooth process... maybe I'll try running it 'live' first, without installing, to make sure that things work beforehand. That's a job for another day.

Vanishing mouse on my Lenovo ideapad

One problem I have found with my new Lenovo ideapad 100 15iby running Elementary OS Freya is an issue with the mouse pointer vanishing, as reported here. It seems that if you lock the machine, close the lid, or let it go to sleep, then after signing back in there is no mouse pointer. It's annoying because neither the trackpad or an external mouse seems to work.

Anyway, the solution which seems to work for me is just to replace Light-Locker with Gnome Screensaver. It means that the lock screen is not as pretty looking, but I'd rather have a mouse that works!

It's an easy fix and worth it, although it looks like future updates won't suffer from the same problem. So I look forward to trying that out when I upgrade to Elementary OS Loki. But I'm waiting for it to be released rather than using the beta.

New laptop for Linux experiments

So my trusty old Toshiba Satellite T130 has started to fail. The keyboard has started to go wrong, it seems to miss out random keystrokes, which is really annoying. It's a shame, because apart from that the machine is still working fine. But I decided that it was time for it to be replaced. I didn't want to spend very much money on a new laptop, because the old Toshiba was running Elementary OS very nicely. So I didn't need a super fast processor or anything. I ended up going for the cheapest laptop with 4GB RAM that I could find. So I am typing this on a Lenovo ideapad 100 15iby. It was less than £190, which is pretty reasonable I think. So far I am pretty happy with it.

This machine does feel cheap. It seems very plasticy and the touchpad buttons rattle a little bit as I type. I don't think that it is as robust as the Toshiba, but for the price it seems like good value. It only has a Celeron processor, but it still seems to fly along when running Elementary OS. When I first got the machine, it was running Windows and that was a slightly more painful experience. Although I only kept Windows for a few minutes - just long enough to apply the firmware updates from Lenovo so that I had the most recent BIOS. After that, I blew everything away and installed Elementary OS Freya from a DVD (the ideapad does have an internal DVD drive). I don't have anything against Windows, but I don't think that I'd be happy running Windows on this laptop - I think I would find it too slow on this hardware.

I had no problems installing Linux, everything worked right out of the box - even the special volume and brightness buttons on the keyboard.

After installing the OS, the next things I installed were:

  • Docker
  • Kate / Konsole (for coding in C)
  • Spotify
  • Chrome (and the Chromecast plugin)
  • Nim / Nimble / Aporia
  • FileZilla
  • TLP in the hope of getting more out of the battery

The ideapad version I've got does not appear to have bluetooth (I think that it's an optional extra on this machine) but I managed to find a tiny Bluetooth dongle on Amazon which seems to do the trick. So anyway, let's see how it goes!

Lenovo IdeaCentre K430 Desktop PC

So my wife needs to run a bunch of different Virtual Machines for her work. Doing that means she can easily clone an existing VM, mess about with stuff and throw it away afterwards if needs be. Then she doesn't need to worry about having left her computer with lots of weird settings at the end of the day.

So she really needed a fast machine with loads of storage for all those VM virtual disk images, and a decent amount of RAM as well.

We looked around, and she went for the Lenovo IdeaCentre K430. It has a 4TB hard disk, a intel Core i7 processor and 12Gb RAM. So there's lots of space for VM disk images there and a nice amount of RAM to run them. We've created a separate partition just for the VMs to be stored on. All that RAM means you can easily dedicate 4Gb of memory to a VM without any worries.

When I got my hands on the machine, there was loads of rubbish pre-installed by Lenovo, so I erased the entire disk, set up my own set of partitions and reinstalled from scratch. But it was a pretty smooth process. I didn't even need the Lenovo driver disk, everything seems to have been detected by Windows 8 automatically.

I was tempted to suggest she tried Linux as the host Operating System, but in the end I decided she'd be happier with Windows.

Using VirtualBox, when you set your VM to run full screen it seems just as fast as the old PC running natively, you don't really notice. So that's pretty good. But I will upgrade to Windows 8.1 as the host OS when it's released, I've been using the Windows 8.1 preview on my tablet and I like the tweaks that have been made.

... and I've virtualised the old PC so I can keep it as a VM, just in case there's something left on it that we need. Yet again Disk2VHD comes to the rescue.

Windows 7 has arrived!

It's here!  Finally, Lenovo have sent my upgrade.  It installed without a hitch and I'm very pleased with my new OS.  They never did answer any of my recent e-mails chasing it up though.

Lenovo the third

OK, so I thought that I was finally making some progress with my "free" Windows 7 upgrade that comes with my new Lenovo PC.  It took a very long time for them to validate my purchase - they check to see that you really have bought a Lenovo PC that qualifies for the free upgrade.  I have no problem with that, but why did it take so long? In the end they validated my purchase 44 days after I registered for the upgrade.

So now they have actually taken my money, yes that’s right there is a £16 "shipping" charge.  Don’t get me started – it does not cost £16 to send out a piece of software.  Anyway, I have paid, they have taken the money off my card.  In fact, they took the money 12 days ago.  Their e-mail confirming the payment said: "A notification email with the shipping details will be sent to you when your order has been shipped".  Guess what?  Nothing.   So they have taken my £16 and not shipped anything.  So I thought that I would drop them a line via their Windows 7 Upgrade website.  So far all I have got is an automated response: "This is to acknowledge the receipt of your enquiry and you will hear from us within 10 business days".  Whoa! Two weeks to answer an e-mail?  What’s interesting is that before they took my money their responses said: "This is to acknowledge the receipt of your enquiry and you will hear from us within 1-3 business days".  Fascinating how they lose interest in you once they have taken your money, eh?

Lenovo Windows 7 Upgrade, part 2

So, it's now been 21 days and I'm still waiting for Lenovo to validate my free Windows 7 upgrade.  I have chased them up again, and this is the e-mail reply that I received today: "Dear David, Please, be patient, our team needs some more time for checking all received POPs. Once your POP is validated you will receive a confirmation e-mail. Best regards Jana".

My question is: when should a customers patience end and be regarded as bad customer service?

Lenovo Windows 7 Upgrade

 

I bought myself a new PC.  I’m pleased with it, a Lenovo ThinkCentre with a Quad Core processor.  It’s nice and fast and has excellent build quality, the first thing I did when I took it out the box was peek inside the case.

 

One of the reasons I bought from Lenovo was because they’ll give me a free upgrade to Windows 7.  I tried to avoid Vista completely, but as it turns out I will need to use it for a few weeks.  I can put up with that.  So, when my new machine arrived I filled in Lenovo’s on-line form to request my upgrade.  Part of the process is to prove that I really did buy a Lenovo PC, so I have to send off my proof of purchase (an invoice or a receipt).  I did that, which was easy because it can be done via e-mail.  All good so far.

 

But that is where things have stalled.  I can check my order on-line and it still says: 'Pending for Proof of Purchase'. I want to know that I will actually get my upgrade! After chasing them up via an e-mail (and it took about 5 days to get a reply) I get this: “Dear David, Please be patient our team needs some more time to check all received POPs. Once your POP is validated you will receive a Confirmation mail. Best regards Jana”.  It’s now been 11 days since I submitted my proof of purchase.  How long will I need to be patient?  Come on Lenovo.