Today I updated the R580’s memory from 4GB to 8GB with a Crucial 8GB (4GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L 1600 MT/S (PC3-12800) Unbuffered SODIMM 204-Pin Memory Kit – CT2KIT51264BF160B. Not only is there now twice as much memory as before, but the performance with the much faster memory over the original memory (Elpida (2GBx2) PC3-8500S) makes the entire system just that much more pleasant to work with.
In addition I installed Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code and Google Chrome (as apposed to just Chromium). And by the way, I went into chrome://flags and disabled “Omnibox UI Hide Steady-State URL Scheme and Trivial Subdomains”.
This just goes to prove to me that computers with low-performance peripherals (memory and disk being two) when they’re first released can have them updated with far better components if those computers can be easily opened and serviced (I’m looking at you, Apple). Ever since I upgraded this system with a Samsung 1TB Evo 860 SSD, I’ve been able to at least keep up with contemporary systems using later releases of the i5 processor. Tonight, after spending another $80 for the memory kit, and getting a sizable and noticeable performance kick, I have no desire to replace it any time soon. The R580 is running with the current version of Ubuntu, 18.04.01, and everything works just fine. The only other item I’ve had to replace on the R580 is the keyboard, and that was four years ago after upgrading the system from Windows to Ubuntu.
I just might get one more new computer before I hit official retirement. If I do it will be a computer powered in part by Linux. Not Windows and not macOS. Linux. And I’m going to make sure that the components are the best I can possibly afford that will be as performant as possible. Probably a system from System 76. Samsung especially doesn’t make computers as good as this old R580 any more.
One of the capabilities of Ubuntu 13.10 and 14.04 I enjoyed was the ability to play both DVD and Blu-Ray Discs. The R580 came with a Blu-Ray capable player built-in, and both Windows Vista and Windows 7 could play DVD and Blu-Ray on that hardware. Back when I installed Ubuntu for the first time I found Ubuntu capable of doing that as well. After installing VLC on Ubuntu 13.10 along with its various support libraries, I was able to play DVD and Blu-Ray pre-recorded commercial films, such as the 2009 reboot of Star Trek. That interest in playing back DVD and Blu-Ray on Ubuntu tapered off after about a year, and after 2014 I stuck to software development and Raspberry Pi support on the notebook.
When I updated Ubuntu to 18.04 I revisited DVD and Blu_Ray playback, just to test it and see how, or even if, it still worked. Turns out that playback is a bit complicated. DVD playback is still solid for anything I can mount in the R580’s Blu-Ray disc player. The complication is with Blu-Ray. I got lucky with my choice of Blu-Ray discs I played back in 2013. For just about anything released in 2013 or earlier, I had no problem on Ubuntu 18.04, same as with 13.10. But I’ve discovered that some of my recent 2018 Blu-Ray purchases either won’t play pn 18.04 because of an issue with the AACS decode key or even worse, they just won’t play at all in the drive. The discs that won’t read at all are those latest 2018 release discs I’ve tested.
I won’t loose any sleep over what will and won’t play. That’s not what this notebook was ever about. It’s about creating, not consuming. As long as it’s a powerful tool in the creative process, then I’m more than happy with it. Playback of locked content in DVD and Blu-Ray discs is a minor distraction that’s not truly important. Having an open creative platform, that’s what’s important, and this platform is all of that.