I’ve been running Ubuntu on this Samsung R580 since late 2013. It was originally sold with Windows Vista in 2010, later updated to Windows 7. The Windows 7 upgrade eventually corrupted itself due to a virus it picked up while my oldest daughter was using it. I bought her a new computer, and was intending to wipe the drive and donate it to Goodwill when on a whim I installed Ubuntu 13.10. From that point forward I had a useful computer that I continued to take care off, updating the hard drive to a 1GB spinning drive and eventually to a 1GB SSD.
Over the years I kept updating the installation, sometimes sticking with the LTS releases, sometimes moving to the in-between releases to get some more advance feature. But when I updated to 16.04 LTS I felt I’d pushed the OS on the hardware as far as I dared. Everything was working, and I didn’t want to push my luck. But today, for whatever reason, I went on ahead and update the 16.04 LTS release to 18.04.1.
After several hours of just “looking around”, I have to say my fears were ungrounded. If anything, moving to 18.04 was the best decision in a long line of good decisions. For one thing, the performance on this platform is astoundingly faster than 16.04. That’s particularly true of the GUI. Everything pops up on the screen almost immediately. Further, the screen looks a lot sharper and the colors are much better than 16.04. Installing 18.04 has literally made the eight-year-old R580 a better running machine.
And I must admit that the UI is the best it’s been since, what, the Ubuntu 7 series. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually like the Gnome desktop again. There are changes from Unity, but nothing drastic, and certainly nothing I can’t quickly get used to.
So far I’ve updated a number of my external tools and languages (Java 10, Visual Studio Code, Go) as well as luxuriating as it were in fairly recent released of Python (2.7.15 rc1, 3.6.5) and gcc (7.3.0).
So, so far, it’s all running marvelously. All the ancient hardware on this notebook is still working just fine, especially the display and WiFi. Performance is quite snappy all around, especially for a machine that still has just 4GB of main memory (and won’t get any more unless somebody is willing to just give it to me). I once wrote that I thought Ubuntu 14 (the first major update to the R580 after 13.10 was installed) was “the best Linux release ever.” It’s still early days (hey, early hours) but I just might anoint Ubuntu 18 the new best Linux release evah.
I had to close the R580’s lid and go off and do something else. When I came back and opened the lid, I was able to wake up the R580 and everything was as it should be on the desktop. Not bad at all. I’ve never gotten Linux sleep mode to work well for me at all, and because it Just Works on my Macbook Pro, I’m in the habit of just closing the lid when I walk away. That’s been bad in the past on the R580 with older versions of Ubuntu, so I just got in the habit of shutting down. With the SSD shutdown and startup are very fast, but I would prefer a decent working sleep mode. Ubuntu just keeps getting better and better, at least as far as the R580 is concerned. Thank you Ubuntu developers.