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Business Technology

Quick Thoughts on the ThinkPad T495

Recently I was handed a new Lenovo ThinkPad T495 as my new “sysadmin” notebook to use for the work I do around campus. I asked for this device because I was curious about how openSUSE would work with the newer AMD Ryzen Pro mobile chips and the current notebook I was using was starting to buckle under its age.

This ThinkPad is now setup with openSUSE Tumbleweed and here are some generic thoughts about how things are working out so far.

ThinkPad T495 on desk
  • This is the nicest traditional, non-Apple laptop I have ever used. It feels sturdy and the hinge is quite nice.
  • The screen is matte and full HD, and is quite nice. It isn’t the best screen I’ve seen, and I didn’t want a touchscreen for this device, but it is quite capable.
  • The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor is quite capable and more than fast enough for what I need to do. I haven’t bothered checking for benchmarks, but openSUSE Tumbleweed is a dream on it.
  • The keyboard is … OK. I don’t hate the keyboard on my MacBook, and there are definitely some things to like about this keyboard over Apple’s current designs, but I have had problems typing accurately that I am chalking up to being more used to the shallow typing distance of my MacBook.
  • It is thin and light enough, but I am finding that the bags that I have been using most are now too small for this laptop even though I didn’t think the difference between Apple’s 13″ lineup and this 14″ Lenovo machine would be that big of a deal.
  • If you are going to run Linux on it, aim for as current of a kernel as possible. It runs with openSUSE Leap 15.1 decently, but the switch to openSUSE Tumbleweed was a revelation. The newer the kernel, the better, and I am hoping for continued improvements for AMD’s chips in the future.
  • I will need to get more RAM (8 GB is not enough).
  • There really is a difference between Apple’s Retina screens and something like this (what is being used in business-class notebooks across the rest of the industry). Part of this is going to be software and part of it is going to be hardware.
  • Everything should have USB-C.
  • I think I quite like it.

Apple doesn’t really offer a notebook like this at the moment and the ThinkPad is not trying to compete with Apple’s offerings. When I am using it, I do miss macOS, but part of that may just be familiarity.

At some point I am going to be forced to make a decision around replacing my MacBook, but I will keep seeing if I can wedge this ThinkPad into other parts of my work. One of the first things I did was get Zotero installed and hooked up to LibreOffice to see if I could continue working with my citations there and it works just fine.

If you are looking for a very good, competent, thin-enough and light-enough Linux laptop … I have no issues recommending the Lenovo ThinkPad T495.

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Technology

Plasma, Ceph, Git Update in Tumbleweed

Plasma, Ceph, Git Update in Tumbleweed by Douglas DeMaio

Tumbleweed continues to just keep rolling with the updates and Leap 42.3 is being prepped for release as well. openSUSE, as a community, continues to really surprise me with what they are doing and Leap 15 (they are going to match the SUSE Linux Enterprise scheme now) is shaping up to be even better.

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Technology

Apple Open Sources Swift

Apple finally went ahead and did it!

Today Apple unwrapped their open sourced Swift programming language. Yes, Swift has been around for a while already, but today it was opened up to the community (Engadget link there).

You can find out more at the website but also check out the repositories at GitHub as well. Currently Apple’s GitHub organization houses pretty m much only projects around Swift.

Sadly, on the Linux-side of things, only Ubuntu binaries are available.

So go forth OSS friends and contribute!

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Technology

openSUSE Tumbleweed gets GNOME 3.16

The openSUSE project announced that GNOME 3.16 would be making an appearance in the next Tumbleweed snapshot … and this morning that snapshot dropped.

I’m at work right now so I don’t have much time to dig into things, and I’m sure there will be some “burn in” time to get everything square away, but I’m excited about this release as it marks the first update to the theme since GNOME 3.0.

I highly recommend openSUSE for anyone looking for a Linux development platform. It is a great community and there are many exciting announcements coming down the pipe for the future!

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Technology

What Happened to the Month with Linux

If you want the short version here it is:

I lasted about five days before I gave in and decided that I’m just going to give up with trying to do anything like this and continue to use the best tool for the job for me, or (as my friend Aaron Spike has said), the tool most familiar to me.

The longer answer starts here:

It is the same thing that always happens. When I need to get work done, I reach for my Apple products. If I need to do something quickly, I’ll reach for my iPad and/or iPhone and/or MacBook Air/mini because, frankly, they just work. They also work well together.

I also gave in because WWDC happened.

Why is that important? BECAUSE APPLE ANNOUNCED A LOT OF REALLY COOL STUFF!

So basically, I’m just really weak.

I’m still going to keep my Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with openSUSE around at work for doing the odd thing here and there (and for testing), but I think that I’m even more-firmly in Apple’s camp now than I was at the end of last month.

openSUSE still would serve my needs quite ably, but I enjoy using Apple’s devices and OS (on both desktop/notebooks and mobile devices) more than I enjoy using the laptop that I currently have openSUSE installed on.

The benefits still stand, as always. I really like having a dock available so that I can bounce between work and home with the same machine and have identical setups available to me with little-to-no fuss at all. I’m hoping that Apple can come up with something similar for their notebooks (a Thunderbolt dock with a power adapter comes about as close as possible right now … but that is still two cables).

The sheer amount of available hardware is great but it is impossible to find a great laptop anymore. Most of what is available does not entice me in the slightest. Apple’s hardware still, to and for me, is the best available. I’m hoping that rumored 12″ MacBook Air will actually happen one day.

Linux is still firmly with me every day, and that is not going to change. As for this challenge, I completely failed.