Updated: December 30, 2023
It's been some six months since I purchased my new laptop, one Slimbook Executive. I did it as the old laptop has a bulging battery. C'est la vie. A rather turbulent series of events, all of which turned out well in the end. You can read about those in the first article on the Executive, but that's not why we're here. Today, I want to share more details on my sustained, everyday use of this machine. After all, the initial report is useful, but long-term usage is the true test for any hardware device.
I did that with the Pro2, the previous productivity laptop, and for five years, I shared my escapades with the device, the ups and down, the good and the bad, on all fronts. And ... I will keep doing it, as the Pro2 is back in action, after I replaced the battery pack. Now, with the Executive, I intend to do the same long, rigorous series of tests and reports. We already had one report, and now, let's look at a fresh slew of findings. After me.
So, what's new this time? Some software problems ...
After one of the rounds of system updates, VLC stopped working correctly. It would play videos, but if I tried to use the seek function, i.e., fast-forward by a minute, or click anywhere on the time slider, the player would simply crash. Resolution: change the video output in Settings. For me, going from Automatic to XCB did the job. Hey!
I also had TrueCrypt "crash" once during the mount operation. The GUI closed, but the device was correctly mounted. Again, this happened after the software update (above). I've not encountered the issue since. And before you say, but why TrueCrypt, the answer is, why not. Also, VeraCrypt. Happy?
Dolphin has a problem with Android. Namely, if I connect an Android phone, properly unlock the screen and allow MTP file access, then the following with always happen. If I click on the phone icon in the file manager sidebar or use the Disk & Devices applet in the system area to browse files, then, I would get an MTP error.
At that point, I would close Dolphin - but it would in fact "crash", the pinned icon would disappear from the task manager, and then reappear after a second. I would then relaunch Dolphin, and this time, I would be able to access the mounted phone without any issues and perform operations as needed, be it copy, delete, folder creation, etc. In general, there seem to be quite a few quirks when it comes to phone usage inside Dolphin. As a workaround, whenever I connect a phone, I first close Dolphin, launch it again, and then do whatever I need, simply to avoid the initial error.
Skype sometimes won't "open" because it cannot access the keyring. In fact, it uses the Gnome keyring, which I had to install separately to KDEWallet. End result, Skype remains in this logged-in but can't see the interface state, and I have to manually kill the process, and then relaunch the application. Usually, on the second try, I would see the GUI prompt to unlock the keyring. Once, Skype even triggered the SSH Key Agent crash:
Edge, Microsoft's edgy browser, also gave me some grief. Suddenly, it decided not to play certain sounds. I had to go into the system's audio settings to figure out what was wrong. For some reason, the Notification Sounds bar was set to mute. No idea why, as I didn't do it. Easily resolved, but slightly annoying.
The Firefox pinning problem remains. Hm.
I experienced two fresh system freezes - I guess crashes - when waking from suspend. The screen simply stayed black, and I had to hard-reboot. This happens very rarely, and usually if I do a real quick sleep-wake sequence, but it is still not a good thing.
On the plus side, charging the laptop does not result in so much heat as before. Early on, a full power cycle would result in a pretty warm keyboard. This is not the case anymore. I believe the battery has an adaptive charging algorithm, so this could be it. Or perhaps, things have simply settled after the initial usage phase.
The battery does its job. The results are consistent with the early findings. I usually need to charge the laptop only once a day, and I use it quite liberally, with the brightness level set to 90%, fair use of the Internet, music and video conferencing. Solid. Nice.
Six months in, the Executive is still a top-notch machine. I love the keyboard, I love the single-finger lid opening, I love the texture of the case and the mildly sharpish edges. The laptop is simply a joy to use, and I still haven't grown indifferent to its aesthetic appeal. On the software side, there were a couple of new disappointments this time around, though.
By and large, I've never had a 100% pristine laptop experience with Linux. Well, for that matter, neither with Windows, to be fair. However, the Executive comes pretty high on the list, with few problems. I'd like to believe the few hardware-related issues will be ironed out with the next kernel slash firmware release, but even if they remain, this Slimbook is a top-notch device. I feel confident with it, and I use it without wondering what might happen to my session or my data. The only really bothersome element is the Dolphin & MTP issue. As I connect my phones relatively frequently, that's the one problem that keeps cropping up. Other than that, I am very pleased. Great stuff. And see you around!