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internet software distribution, or who needs cd-rom drives
2008-01-24

Several years back, I chose a Thinkpad X31 as my work laptop. It was in the nature of a trial, I thought the smaller laptop might be interesting, and I didn't really think I'd need it that much, so if I found it annoying, wouldn't really matter. The X31 didn't have an optical drive, though my work did provide me with a docking station that has one built in. I've almost never needed the drive, as it turns out. I don't install much "big" software on this laptop, since its my work laptop and work provides me with the software I need generally from a central server. Most software I install are small things I just download and install, and even some hardware, like my Cingular wireless card, I just found the OEM version of the software on the manufacturers website.

There are exceptions, though. I just bought a new Palm Centro phone, and went to use the install cd... and found that I'd left a cd in the docking station from the last time I'd used it: the install cd for my old Palm Treo 700p, from almost 2 years ago. So, there's an indication of just how often I've needed the cd-rom on this machine.

Not that I'm going to get rid of all of them. My desktop box at home has two DVD drives in it, which I'm using quite a bit to rip my DVDs. I've also needed those drives for games, either because they're huge (MS Flight Simulator was two DVDs) or because they require the disk to be in the drive to play for copy protection (really annoying). And I even wrote a DVD recently when I upgraded my home linux server, and needed a DVD drive to do the upgrade. But when you have multiple computers, you can definitely get away without having an optical drive.

On the other hand, my wife appreciates that my personal laptop, a Sony Vaio TZ, has a dvd drive, since she uses it as a portable DVD player on trips. One device is better than two in a lot of cases.


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