[SWLUG] Advice please: broadband + laptop

Julian Hall lists at kaotic.co.uk
Mon May 15 12:01:48 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA1

Mark Summerfield wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm planning to get broadband. At the moment I'm with BT but want to
> switch.
> Pipex seem to offer phone + broadband; does anyone have
> recommendations? (I think NTL are in my area--Pontardawe). I only want
> to use it with Linux (Debian, or Kubutu).
Safecom 4 port router with print server from ebuyer under £16 inc
VAT.  Safecom are a nice reliable brand too.  Funny thing is.. NTL now
recommend using Ethernet but every engineer appears to have been told
to use USB to install.  If you go for NTL install Linux first, and
then they *can't* install the USB and will leave you alone :)  Just
don't mention it beforehand... they *might* say it's unsupported and
not take the order.  They also do a wireless one since you mentioned
Wifi as well.
> Also I need to buy a laptop; I'll need to dual boot XP & Linux
Compaq.  I have an R3307EA.  The only downside is that since I bought
mine, Compaq seem to have moved away from Nvidia graphics, and now
everything seems to be ATI, which (allegedly) aren't as easy to get to
work with Linux.  YMMV.  15.1" screen and DVD-RW.  The newer R5000
series are higher spec.

My Dad has an Acer laptop (no Wifi onboard but has PCMCIA slot).  Got
it for £370 for his birthday.  Not a massive spec for the price but
it's a decent machine.  Not sure on Linux support as he runs Windows
XP, but the Linux On Laptops site ought to give some advice on that.

Previously I had a Sony Vaio which worked OK, but their so-called
'Technical Support' were nothing less than insulting [1] and for what
you get, you're paying for the name not quality.  Do yourself a favour
and make sure the OEM has a good reputation for Technical Support.
Compaq have.

Try this one for size -
Acer Aspire 3004WLMi AMD Sempron 3100+ 512MB 40GB DVD±RW 15.4" WLAN
Ebuyer quickfind code 105303
£485.95 inc VAT

As for Wifi, two choices.  Either:

1. Get a cheap laptop without Wifi and buy a PCMCIA (Cardbus) card
a) with Atheros chipset - I have the Netgear WG511T.  Then install the
MADWifi modules and away you go;
b) with Broadcom, which I believe is well supported with ndiswrapper etc.

2. Alternatively get a dearer laptop with built-in Wifi which may or
may not be supported depending on the chipset involved.  I only went
for Atheros because a) I didn't actually *know* before I bought the
kit (cough) but also you're left with a pure Linux system.. no Windows
drivers required.

Kind regards,


[1] I worked as a Senior ISP Tech at the time and  even after I told
them that, they told me I didn't know how to install a modem - several
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