Slimbook Executive, long-term usage report 1

Updated: September 16, 2023

Yo yo yo, here we are. It's now been roughly a month and change since I first got me hands on the lovely and sleek Slimbook Executive, my new productivity laptop running Kubuntu 22.04 LTS. The initial impression has been amazing, on all fronts. But using a machine for a day or two ain't the same as using it for a month or two.

Well, in much the same fashion I did with the previous productivity machine, the Slimbook Pro2, we're gonna have a series of "combat" reports, which document the everyday usage, the niggles, the problems, all the grueling details of a super-long-term hardware & software review. Over roughly five years of non-stop usage, I wrote some fourteen articles about the Pro2, the unexpected but successful battery replacement, and we shall yet continue that saga, as the laptop lives on. Now, let us focus on the Executive and see what it does for us. Begin.

Teaser

Let's start with hardware

The laptop works great. Now that I've reconfigured the power button, there are no accidental suspends, and the usage is seamless. The keyboard is fantastic. I also enjoy holding the laptop in my hands, it just feels posh. The audio is glorious, clear and crisp. But there be an odd issue here and there.

Namely, if you suspend the laptop while it's still plugged into the power, it will actually wake up. This is quite annoying, and fully repeatable. I've seen this happen twice or thrice. I guess there is a BIOS option somewhere that could mitigate the problem, and perhaps this can also be fixed in the operating system, but it's not something that should happen, to begin with.

The case gets hot when charging - but less so than what I reported early on. Likewise, the disk gets quite hot during intense I/O activities, like Steam downloads or gaming.

The battery holds its charge well. If you start your "work" day with a fully charged cell, and you only do the basic stuff, like browsing, writing and such, it will hold well throughout. If you add in some more intense activities like video streaming, in fact anything that uses the GPU a lot, the estimates will go down a fair deal. On average, for light to moderate usage, you can expect 6-7 hours easily, which is solid. Sometimes, the battery also lies, right.

Battery

Software?

There are some problems. The Firefox (standalone) always gets "unpinned" after reboot. The actual icon remains pinned to the taskbar, but the browser launches with a separate icon on the far right of the pinned row, as you'd expect from unpinned applications. So that means unpin, pin. Annoying. Something similar plagued the Pro2 early on, and has been resolved since. This could be a regression.

The system menu Meta binding disappeared once - I had to reassign it. Again, an old problem I wrote about, which can be fixed either by reboot or by adding a new (old) shortcut, Meta + Space. Silly and unnecessary.

I encountered a one-time problem where Konsole would spew occasional system log messages as if to standard output. It only happened once, and after reboot, I could not replicate the problem. Not sure why and how but hey. Similarly, once, Dolphin refused to copy files to Samba, complaining about permissions. The only way to fix this was to actually restart the host (the KWin restart didn't help). Very Windowsy, this whole thing. Reboot, problem gone, blink, done.

Last but not the least, the system got stuck, twice. We're talking kernel panic. Why, not sure. There was nothing in the kernel log to help me debug the issue. But a hard-boot was the only way to recover. My guess is something to do with the graphics stack, as the freeze happened both times when I quickly suspended and then resumed the session.

Working with the laptop is fun. The Executive has plenty of juice, so you can do quite a bit. For example, setting up a virtual machine in VirtualBox is always fun. You set the CPU counter at 28, and you go, well, I can crank up this to 11. Now, those are threads, not physical cores, but even so.

VirtualBox

Games

I tried a couple of titles, namely GTA: Vice City and Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Both worked fine, as I've already reported in my Slimbook Titan & Steam Proton adventures (check me Linux gaming section) but I did need to make tiny, tiny adjustments.

With GTA: Vice City, things were quite all right, and the game even detected the 3K resolution and all. I was also able to load the Steam-converted game saves, and go about listening to some fabulous 80s classics while cruising about the City. In Red Alert, the mouse scroll didn't work correctly in the vertical axis, until I untoggled "Constraint Mouse Cursor to Game Window". I did not encounter this on other machines, including the Titan with its Nvidia card.

GTA: Vice City

Command & Conquer

And then ...

This is a pretty solid machine, and I'm quite happy with it. Does the job well. Looks the part, too. Slick and polished, professional look of KDE mated to excellent hardware with great ergonomics. No pointless rewards and recommendations and ads and nudges to use even more pointless software, like you'd see somewhere else. But on its own merit, the Executive delivered reasonably well for its first adventure.

Ready

Conclusion

I am very happy with the laptop. Buying a new machine is always a gamble, even more so if you go with Linux as your operating system of choice. But the Executive does a fantastic job. Yes, there were some problems and niggles, mostly on the software side. I hope they will remain in the past, and will not resurface at some point in the future. My productivity is high, the keyboard is excellent (even with the weird power button), the heating can be a little annoying, but it's nothing major, and the battery delivers a mighty punch.

The Plasma desktop is a joy of sleek elegance and extreme yet understated customization, which never gets in your face if you don't want it to, a common (pet) peeve voiced by people who don't really use Plasma as their daily driver. Anyway, all in all, pretty jolly for the first month, the first report. Coincidentally, the results with this machine also give me extra confidence that I can fully and totally ditch Windows in the next year or so, save perhaps an odd, locked-down '10 box used purely for gaming. Well, see you around for more Linux fun!

Cheers.