April 06, 2007

Curious George: les ordibqteurs portqvles eb Frqbxe (French laptops)

I live in Paris, France. I want to buy a sane non-Apple laptop computer. I require the standard QWERTY keyboard layout: AZERTY blows big rocky chunks. The laptop will run Linux mainly but dual boot some Windows for the occasional game. I would therefore prefer the Windows to be an English version (either UK or US is fine), but this is not that important. I have tried all the major and several minor brand names and none of them allow me to buy non-French-local OS/keyboarded laptops. I have marched up and down rue Montgallet without much success at any of the shady tech bordellos there. No US company will ship to Europe, and I don't trust any friend across the pond to buy one for me and make sure that it runs Linux correctly. Can anyone cut my Gordian knot?

  • Dell France can sell QWERTY systems with an English OS, at least to businesses. I'm guessing that you've already looked at that option. You can order online through the "small business" portal, but there might be some issue about VAT number or something that has to be completed at the end. I had peripherals sent from Dell Ireland about five years ago, though I haven't tried since. Occasionally places like ruedecommerce, grosbill, or surcouf will get a shipment of anglo-origin laptops, but it's unpredictable. It might be worth looking around avenue Daumesnil (parallel to rue Montgallet) if you haven't already. Your quickest and surest option might be eurostar to Ashford.
  • Daytrip to London's luvverly Tottenham Court Road?
  • Oops, rory had said similar already.
  • How about the eBay gray market? Eg item 130095482560.
  • Yeah, I was wondering about ebay too. Can find some decent deals, but caveat emptor.
  • Another note: I gave in and bought an AZERTY system last year because I found a very good deal. I've mapped the keyboard to US english and don't have much trouble. Most software I install on Windows is in English, and I've had no compatibility issues so far. I'm dual booting Suse with no problems except occasional glances at the keyboard to make sure my fingers are in the right place. I thought about getting stickers to put on the keys, but at this stage I don't know if it's necessary. You can get stickers at surcouf, etc.
  • I wonder if you can get a french-canadian keyboard. I've always liked the layout since it's basically a qwerty keyboard with a few changes. Only issue I've ever had when I've used one is the backslash key in the upper-left, but that's only an issue on a windows system. The layout is listed here: french keyboard.
  • On my Paris trip a couple of years ago, the "E" key on my laptop bought the farm and I had to go out and buy a French keyboard, but mapped the keys to US Eng, just as roryk mentions. As long as I didn't look at the keys while I was typing, I was fine.
  • How difficult is remapping keys in Windows?
  • Remapping is straightforward. I think it's in: Demarrer | Panneau de configuration | Options regionales et linguistiques | Langues | Services de texte et langues d'entree | Details | Langue d'entree par defaut + Service installes I specified English as the default input language and added an English keyboard under Service installes. Once you've done this, regional options should be available in the Windows task bar, so you can switch from one language to another quite quickly.
  • Ben, j'essaie de vivre avec ├ža. Merci beaucoup.
  • Bonne chance et bon courage.