Dell's Price Cut and IBM's T40

Possibly good news at the BBC about Dell announcing a price cut of up to 22%. I don't know what effect this will have: I mean, Dell's service is awful - their delivery time is already about a month, even on off the shelf machines. Most other vendors can do about a week or so. Still, Dell do have some good lookin' kit, and I expect they'll do alright (possibly at the expense of other smaller companies).

We received a couple of IBM T40 laptops at work - these things rock. At first, I didn't like it too much, because it's got a whole different set of components that our T20/T21 laptops, and comes with no recovery CD (it's on a hidden partition on the harddisk). Still, having played about with it getting a ghost image sorted, I have to say, it's a very swish machine (and might make it into the "sexy pc" category ;-)
The lack of a recovery CD is an awful bit of overbearing-vendor tie-in. It means that you have to use an IBM harddisk if you replace the disk. That's a bit crap, and limits the realistic life of the machine to about three years, because after that, the replacement disks will be hopelessly expensive. Of course, I'd like to buy such a machine with no OS, or Linux pre-installed, and I'd also like to send my Windoze CD back unopened, etc etc, but you can't do that with IBMs (and never have been able to, because they don't actually supply Windows media, just some form of recovery disk).

Getting past that, you can run a system with no recovery partition - you can't get to it via fdisk, gdisk, Linux, anything. To reveal the partition, you have to turn off "security" in the Bios. It's pretty easy, and would allow you to install a normal harddisk with no recovery partition.

Of course, if you want to set up a dual partition system (as all the best sysadmins would), you can't easily do that with the recovery CD - it always wants to use the whole disk as C:. That too has always been the case with IBMs, so you'll need Partition Magic, or else Ghost to sort out that situation. I used Ghost to save off the default install, then re-install it into a 10GB partition. I then created a D: partition for all the user data (meaning I can replace the OS if it gets in a twist without loosing all the data).

A bit of a warning here - the default installed system is HUGE. It took me a while to work out why - it's got a directory C:\IBMTOOLS that is about a gigabyte, and full of things you won't need (like an old version of Acrobat reader). It also includes the Dos drivers you'll need to set up a Ghost boot disk, by the way (an easy job, using Ghost Boot Disk Wizard - and yes, the T40 has completely different components from the T21).

Anyway, having deleted the IBMTOOLS directory, the image gets a whole lot smaller, so a good deal more managable for Ghost images. I did all the usual "standard build" system thing on the machine - man this thing is fast. I know the T21 is getting on a bit, but it's probably less than half as fast as the T40.

From an aesthetic point of view, the T40 is way better looking than the T21 - it's slimmer, sharper somehow and lighter, etc etc. It's got the IBM Trackpoint (which I know a lot of people hate, but I love) and one of those trackpad things (which I know a lot of people love, but I hate). It's got built in WLAN, which is a great idea, although took some time for me to figure out how to turn it off (seeing as it's a potential security risk while unconfigured). I'm not sure I like the blue "Access IBM" button - a bit cheesy, but I guess I can live with it.

From a technical point of view, this looks like a very decent machine. It completes Seti work units in about half the time my T21 can do 'em, and has the disk and display technology to match that. You can't get much memory in it though - it looks like a gigabyte is the maximum, and is incredibly expensive (half a gigabyte is easily affordable). You seem to get 256MB built in, so you actually get to 768MB with half a gigabyte installed - nice.

All in all, the T40 looks pretty damn good to me. I like it (although it takes some getting used to). As a user, I'm sure this machine will be really very good indeed as it's got the beef to satisfy even the most hardened Office user ;-) Of course, it remains to be seen how Half Life 2 runs on it (or even Half Life 1, for that matter!).

Submitted by coofercat on Thu, 2003-08-21 14:04


Dell's Price Cut and IBM's T40

Has anyone successfully found a way to ghost an image of the T40 with whatever applications you use installed?It's been quite a challenge for me and my only issue with the T40.My enterprise has procured the IBM ThinkPads from the T20 days.Without an removable internal floppy drive network ghosting is virtually impossible.Symantec has issues with network ghosting from a docking station floppy drive and ghosting an image to cdrom would be okay only if you wanted to install the base OS and then you'd have to delete the c:\ibmtools directory to do so on one cd.Has anyone found a way to create an image and save to a network drive with the challenges of not having an internal floppy drive on the T40?If so please let me know, other than that the T40 is a fine laptop and excellent successor from the T30 which is also an very stable laptop.

Submitted by Darryl Leach (not verified) on Tue, 2003-10-28 21:08.
Dell's Price Cut and IBM's T40

I know it's a complete rip-off, but the USB floppy from IBM will do the trick nicely. It's 50UKP, which is far too expensive (clone drives may also work, but I haven't tried any).

At the time, we only had Ghost in a master/slave arrangement. I created the master floppy very easily once I'd identified the driver file out of the c:\ibmtools directory. I just told Ghost about the driver and it made me the correct floppy for the job. I guess there's a similar procedure for Ghost multi-cast, but I've never used that (yet).

I guess, if you don't want that expensive drive, you could make a floppy with Ghost, and then just make a bootable CD from it. Probably a hammer to crack a nut, but should work.

Submitted by coofercat on Tue, 2003-11-25 12:43.
Dell's Price Cut and IBM's T40

Make a bootable CD with DOS and a copy of Ghost and use it to bootup the notebook for cloning.

Submitted by Kent (not verified) on Fri, 2004-04-30 12:30.