I am writing this post on a laptop/tablet. I’m also writing about this same device and the decision process that led to its purchase.
The device is a Hewlett-Packard Spectre X2. While this is not a product review, it’s worthwhile looking at some its features. It is based on the latest generation Skylake CPU, which has lower power requirements but is still fast enough to give a snappy user experience.
The keyboard is connected to the monitor by some strong magnets. To detach them, just pull. Re-attaching them is simple too – just align the two components and they snap together. This means I can use it like a normal laptop, but I can also use the screen as a tablet. This is especially useful on planes, where there is not much space. I can read e-books quite comfortably. This is the first portable device for which this is so.
It has 4GB of Ram and a 128 GB SSD for storage. Both of these are more than enough for my purposes. I chose the cheapest model available and I have not been disappointed.
I really wanted Linux, not Windows 10
Before I settled on this device, I was thinking of just buying the cheapest laptop I could find, to strip windows and replace it with Linux. This is quite feasible, but there are inevitable driver problems and fiddling to make sure the device sleeps when the lid is shut and so on. When I started looking at mid-range devices like this one, the thought of trying to get the touchscreen and automatic sensing of orientation (portrait or landscape) to work. I was also intrigued by the prospect of Windows 10, which I had not used.
That’s how I hit upon the plan to leave the Windows 10 OS alone and set up a virtual machine to run Linux. I am using VirtualBox to host an Arch Linux guest system.
The linux guest is pretty basic. I allocate 1 GB of RAM (out of 4GB) to it, which is more than enough. As you can see from the screenshot above, the OS and desktop environment use just 170 MB of the available 1000.
One reason for running Linux is because it is the natural choice for any kind of programming and system automation. Linux runs on my (almost) embedded devices that record sensor readings. It also runs my web server, so I can use the same shell scripts, service configurations, and editing tools across the spectrum of devices. I can’t imagine using Windows in the same fashion: the cost of the OS, its resource requirements and the zealous licencing system are bad enough, but the lack of the unix-like ecosystem of tools relegates Windows to the fluffy-consumer focused host system.
If you want to see a bit of Linux in action, head over to my n3rdy experimental site, F3RR3T.com.