I enjoyed your review on laptop computers entitled "Portable Quest" in Linux Magazine issue #64 / March. However, there was one rather obvious omission. Nowhere in the article did it mention where these laptops could be purchased, and perhaps even more importantly, whether they could be bought with a copy of Linux preinstalled.
The last new laptop I bought was an IBM ThinkPad T23. As soon as I got it home, I removed Windows and put Mandrake on it. Unfortunately, this computer was stolen.
Recently, I was in the market for a new laptop, and my search was very difficult task . Luckily, I came across a very good web page by Bob McElrath http://mcelrath.org/laptops.html, and I decided to try again. My patience finally paid off, and I found a Stamp Model 223 laptop here in Hong Kong. It is a very nice machine. This same laptop is also sold by Linux Certified (http://www.linuxcertified.com) as the LC 2100.
Going from a very well known company like IBM to a lesser known brand like Stamp was a bit of a leap of faith, but Bob's web page helped me understand that the majority of the world's laptops are manufactured by just a handful of companies.
As a service to your readers, I think it would be very beneficial if you had a special page or two of advertisements in each issue dedicated to both laptop and desktop systems that could be purchased either without an operating system, or even better, with Linux preinstalled.
Lyndon Kroker, by email
It is nice to hear about companies that are including Linux with their products. It probably would not be possible to provide the extra ads you mention, but an article on vendors with pre-installed Linux products is a good idea.
As you mention there's a lot of information on Linux on Laptops available online. If you'd like to check on hardware compatibility with Linux you can find information on most laptop models at http://www.tuxmobil.org.
I was just reading the article on transferring movies to your psp. There are a couple of minor errors in it.
First, FFMPEG from cvs will encode movies for firmware 2 and 2.5. The patch has been in the mailing list since September and got applied about a month ago.
Also, the article cautions about using a framerate higher than 14.985, which really isn't neccesary. I typically use 29.97.
Here is the script I use to generate the movies and the thumbnails for a PSP with firmware rev 2. It's not elegant but it works. $1 is the inout movie, $2 is the title, $3 is the output file name, which has some special constraints.
#!/bin/sh ffmpeg -y -i $1 -title "$2" -f gif -ss 10 -vframes 1 -s 160x120 -an /tmp/tmp.gif convert /tmp/tmp.gif /tmp/tmp.jpg cp /tmp/tmp.jpg $3.THM rm /tmp/tmp.gif rm /tmp/tmp.jpg ffmpeg -y -i $1 -title "$2" -f psp -r 29.97 -s 368x208 -b 400 -acodec aac -ar 24000 -ab 32 -muxrate 768 $3.MP4
Angus Ainslie, by email