Compaq Presario R3000 and Linux
I wanted a 64 bit laptop, and the local Office Depot had
a sale on them for $800, so I went down and ordered one.
I only use the plain old wired ethernet port
(I think I ordered it without the wireless option).
It's nice and fast. I can build Wine from scratch while
browsing a couple news sites, and I'm very happy with the speed.
Linux distros tested
I originally put a 64 bit Ubuntu on the laptop, but
was annoyed at the lack of 32 bit support, so I went back
to using 32 bit Linux distributions.
I've tested the 32 bit versions of
FC3, FC4, FC5, and Ubunutu 05.10 "breezy badger".
Of the four, only Ubuntu recognized the full size of the screen.
The pcmcia slot is a particular problem;
see Keith Hughes' r3120US page for details.
I have since updated to Ubuntu 06.06, and it's working very nicely
(though I haven't tried the pcmcia slot).
The video output jack of the r3000 seems utterly incompatible
with all video projectors. Several web sites comment on this
problem; one says the vesa driver helps. And sure enough,
if you edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf to replace
projectors work fine. (Believe it or not, it took me
a long time to realize that's all one had to do to
How do I hate the keyboard? Let me count the ways:
- Once every couple minutes, my finger will
catch painfully on the side of a key on the upstroke, and the
key will make a nasty little "tink" sound.
For instance, when pressing the 'h' key, my finger
often catches on the corner of the 'u' key.
Makes me feel as if the key cap is going to come off any moment,
or that I'm going to get a divot in my fingertip from using it.
- The touchpad gets in the way when typing, and
I often find the cursor jumping to the other side of
the page because I brushed it with my palm
I'm used to Toshiba keyboards,
which have wonderful full sized keys even for 'delete';
the Compaq has a little half-sized delete key, as if
to say "real people don't use this key".
This hits Linux users more than Windows users, since
on Linux, they do different things, and I use both.
The volume control buttons on the right side are
evidently part of the keyboard, as pressing them
interferes with the keyboard and vice versa
(thanks to my two-year-old son for helping me discover this).
They're ok, except that they don't work early enough
during boot to let you silence the KDE startup noise.
Cables / Drives
The CD Rom drive often pops open unbidden when
the laptop is sitting on the settee in the living room.
Why? I have no idea. Maybe it sinks down just enough in
the cusions to press the CD Rom button.
The power cable, for some reason, is constantly
coming unplugged when the laptop is sitting on my lap.
Usually, even on Ubuntu, I don't get
any warning of this; the computer just shuts off
because the battery has run out.
Reliability / Customer Service
The switch that turns off the backlight when you close the laptop
failed after nine months, rendering the laptop unusable
(you can't really use a laptop without a working backlight).
Compaq's telephone customer service
was both good and bad. The first time I called, I got someone
in India who was almost abusive, and was poorly informed.
His main interest was in selling me another year of warrantee service.
He did eventually agree to repair the switch.
I realized the next day I'd given incorrect info, and
called them back to correct it. This time I got a great guy
who was very pleasant.
The repair service was quick, easy, and efficient;
I did have to box the computer up myself, but
UPS came to the door to pick it up, and the
repaired computer was sent back extremely quickly.
I used the repair service a second time after
I broke the ethernet connector by kicking the cable out.
This time, even though I was still under warranty, it
cost me $300. (Lesson: I should have tried epoxying it myself first.
Oh, and be real careful to never kick the ethernet cable out accidentally!)
The laptop's performance and HP's customer service are good.
However, the hardware issues (flimsy keyboard, power cable popout, cdrom drive popout)
and Linux support issues (pcmcia, wireless) make this laptop a lemon.
People considering Compaq laptops should check for these flaws before buying.
Updated 8 Dec 2007