March 14th is quite a day. It’s Albert Einstein’s birthday, it’s Pi Day, it’s another holiday that perhaps you should just search Urban Dictionary for, and it’s the 15th anniversary of the 1.0 release of the Linux kernel.
Speaking of Linux, it’s been months since we basically got rid of Windows in my house. We still have a Windows XP computer, but it hasn’t been booted in months. On Wednesday, we added another Linux machine to the mix. We bought a Dell Mini 9 for my wife. The Mini was on sale one-day for $200 base, so we decided to snap one up. The cheapest model ships with Ubuntu 8.04. I’m used to RedHat/Fedora, so I was a little concerned that the setup would be a bit of a curve, but other than configuring the wireless network, Angie was able to get it as set up as she needed by the time I got home.
So what do I think of the Mini? It seems to be a pretty solid little netbook. I don’t feel like I’m going to break it every time I touch it, which I was a bit concerned about. The keyboard is, understandably, really tiny. I’m a clumsy typist anyway, so I had some problems, but it seems like Angie has gotten used to it.
The Mini uses a custom repository, probably to keep the disk footprint to a minimum (the base hard drive is a 8GB solid-state drive), but also because the processor isn’t an i386. uname identifies the Intel Atom processor as ‘lpia’. This means that pre-built binary packages won’t work by default. If you use the “–force-architecture” argument to dpkg, it should install. That worked for Skype, at least, although I’m told that you won’t be able to do an automated uninstall later. The built-in webcam, speakers, and microphone all worked well.
So after 4 days, the Mini has been a worthy investment so far. I just wish we had purchased a second one for me to play with. 🙂