UPDATE (8 March 2013): Yeah, as it turns out, I ended up keeping the laptop: he couldn’t install Linux, IIRC, but I figured out a way, and it was handy for dual booting, when I occasionally needed to use a Korean installation of Windows XP. However, the purchase was still a rather dumb one, and as a rule I avoid purchases like this one… to a fault, as I failed to get a new portable computer before leaving Korea when, all told, I probably should have picked one up. Ah well…
ORIGINAL POST: Yongsan Electronics Market is famous for cheap(ish) and ready-to-go electronics. Well, knowing that I would probably be traveling this holiday, and wanting to take along a lighter, loseable notebook — a laptop I wouldn’t be too broken-up over losing, and definitely not my main one — I decided to get a cheapie. I prefer to buy new over used, because used PCs have a tendency to die on me, all too suddenly and all too soon.
So anyway, about a week ago I bought myself a cheap, no-name-ish PC, hoping to install Linux and get it running over the week before finals (this coming week). The guy I bought it from assured me that I could come and see him if there were problems, and I felt pretty good about it. So good that I trashed the box on the way home to make it easier to carry. (After all, it’s one thing to carry wasteful packaging around in the trunk of your car — it’s totally another to do so on insanely crowded subways on a Saturday night.)
Then I got it home, and what do you know but not only would none of the various flavours of *buntu install, but neither would Linux Mint, Windows XP, or anything else I tried. I used a memory test on it and found tons of “errors,” and finally, today, after a week of lost hours and frustration, I gave up and decided to take it back.
The guy installed Windows XP from a disc image, and then he was like, “There ya go, buddy!” As if that was it, period, finished and done.
“But I don’t use Windows,” I said.
“I hate Windows. Windows is terrible. So I don’t use it. I use Linux.”
I popped out some LiveCDs and tried them in succession. None of them ran, just like before he’d installed Windows XP.
This was about the time Lime showed up and intervened. The guy claimed I’d not mentioned a desire to run Linux on the notebook, which got me almost shouting at him. He contradicted me several times, and the last time he tried it, I basically did yell, looking him right in the eye as I did so.
Then he tried to tell Lime that Linux doesn’t run on notebook computers — that there hasn’t been a notebook-capable version of Linux developed yet. (The kind of ignorant crap people spout when they don’t know anything.) To which Lime responded with the question of how I could install and run Linux on two other notebook computers, hers included, if it was impossible.
“But nobody in Korea uses Linux!” he said, I think adding that it’s impossible to run Linux on Korean-built laptops because there are no drivers developed in Linux for Korean hardware — if such a thing exists.
To which she responded that she, too, uses Linux, and runs it on an HP notebook bought here. That’s sort-of a fib: she has it installed, but only runs it occasionally, when Windows is really misbehaving. Still, it’s only a half-fib, because there are a bunch of Linux enthusiasts here, as evidenced by the fact there’s a Korean ubuntu Wiki, and enough people to get together for parties and stuff.
So then he says the magical, “So what do you want me to do?”
Lime gave him my answer: “If Linux won’t run on it, then he can’t use it, so we’ll be wanting a refund.”
“Impossible,” he said, and this was where I was beginning to get visibly angry. Like, ready to break things. I think by this time I was yelling every answer I gave. Why? I think it’s the whole thing: Must Use Windows. Korean Way is Windows. (Yeah, right.) Refund? Impossible. Korean PCs are Special! Korean PCs Cannot Run Linux! What Do You Want Me To Do? Go F*ck Yourself. I Got Your Money. Go Away!
“Have you got the packaging?”
“No,” I said. “I don’t mind losing a little money for the box. But I’m not going to keep the computer just because I trashed the box. The box isn’t worth $600.” (Which was about what I paid for this notebook.)
Then the guy mumbled something about trying to install Linux himself, and Lime talked me into giving him a chance. If he can manage it, and he can give me something so I can reinstall it as-is, I might consent to it, but I’m pretty leery about a computer I can’t use a live-CD on.
Still, it’s probably my fault for buying a new “Hyundai Libero E” — a cheapie new laptop — instead of some used Thinkpad or Compaq or something. But I haven’t used the PC, won’t be using it, and will be doing my best to get my money back, or get another of his PCs, or something. I’m certainly not going to revert to Windows just because the guy who sold me a PC (saying Linux could install on it) doesn’t feel willing to let me get a refund.
In future, though, I think I’ll be staying clear of Yongsan market. There are much better ways to pick up a cheapie laptop.