Happy “Cheap Peeps Day”, Everyone!

No, no, don’t panic, this isn’t another “all manner of strange things involving Marshmallow Peeps®” post, even though I can’t help thinking of the day after Easter as “Cheap Peeps Day”.

Today’s not a bad day. I got new glasses again – the replacements for the defective lenses finally showed up today. Sadly, the new right-side lens has the same kind of “fine stress-cracks” defect as the previous lenses, but at least it’s only one lens, and this time is much less severe. They’re still a big improvement on my old glasses, and I can wear them while they order a replacement lens again.

picture of an Asus EEE PC 901 Linux netbookPlus, I may have located my new netbook. Commenters here (thanks defcronyke and TomJoe!) had praise for the original Linux Netbook manufacturer, Asus. I’m currently drooling at the EEE PC 901. It’s $10 more than the Sylania G Meso that I wanted but couldn’t find actually in stock anywhere (they were supposedly available a few days ago, so I’m guessing they’re just very popular, and sold out very quickly. [YOU HEAR THAT, RETAILERS?!?!?]). However, along with that extra $10 it comes with built-in bluetooth (Hooray – bluetooth tethering, chan_mobile, and the Bluetooth GPS units I have will be useful!), RAM that can be upgraded without the warranty-voiding case-cracking required to upgrade the Sylvania G Meso, and a bigger, longer-lasting battery pack. Plus, it’s actually in stock at least at Amazon.com. They even have it in the less-likely-to-warp-if-I-accidentally-leave-it-in-front-of-a-sunny-window plain white color I wanted.

I’ve still got a little bit of reluctance to switch to a “solid-state” flash-memory drive rather than an old-school mechanical one – they have less capacity, and more importantly each individual sector on a Solid-State Drive wears out and stops working after it’s written to for a certain number of times. Internally, the solid-state drives are supposed to do some behind-the-scenes tricks to spread disk writes around so that the same sectors aren’t constantly being re-written (“wear leveling”), so supposedly the modern drives should last at least around 5 years of “typical use”. Still, that means I probably wouldn’t want to run Gentoo on it – compiling involves lots of temporary file write-and-delete cycles. Oh, well – I’ve been wanting an excuse to try out Arch Linux anyway. It appears to have the same “rolling release” methodology that Gentoo does, with a decent package manager and yet the same kind of ability to custom-compile packages elsewhere to install that Slackware’s “SlackBuild” system enables, so I could still do the “compile just the features I want, optimized for the Atom processor and for minimum size” sort of trick that I could do with Gentoo.

Application of what I like to call “Intentional Computing” philosophy ought to be able to turn a machine like this into a potent portable premium performance powerhouse of…um…something beginning with “p”.

Anyway, I think the only other route I’d consider for getting a Linux netbook would be a Dell Mini 9, which is on sale right now ($50 off). However, it’d still take what appears to be one to three weeks to actually get the machine into my impatient nerd-hands from Dell, and features equivalent to the EEE PC 901 look like they’d still cost about $100 more (at least) from Dell, even with the sale going on.

Any thoughts before I commit myself*?

*– Yes, I know that can be interpreted in multiple ways. Most of them probably apply anyway, though, so I don’t care…

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The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

8 thoughts on “Happy “Cheap Peeps Day”, Everyone!”

  1. The ASUS 900 does come in a 160GB hard drive for an additional $50, though it comes loaded with XP. Otherwise I believe all the other features are the same.

  2. If I remember right, the 900 is one of the “Celeron” models, isn’t it?

    Not worth the compromise, personally – I’d rather not pay the Microsoft tax (ESPECIALLY since I have no use for it – I’ve already GOT two “Windows XP Home” licenses that came with my last two laptops that I never use), and as I think about it I really ought to get used to working on SSD – I think it’s probably “The Future” for pretty much everything besides bulk storage and heavy-duty desktops (and maybe even for them, too, in another 3-5 years).

    Looks like the EEEPC 901 Linux storage is 4GB for system, plus a second 16GB SSD which I can use for /home (the Windows version is only 8GB, presumably to make up for the extra cost of the Microsoft licenses.) I think I can turn that into a very workable system, especially if I bump up to 2GB of RAM.

  3. Sounds reasonable. Don’t forget the HDSC slot as well. I doubled my storage capacity by getting a 16GB card for $10 at Amazon. That might also be a reasonable way to extend the life of the installed SD. Just save most documents to the external HD. I use my slot to store music and PDFs.

  4. Yeah – I figure I’ll settle on one or more standard volume labels that I’ll use for SD cards to be mounted automatically in my home directory, and keep most of my stuff there (I can use a USB card reader if I want to mount a second SD at the same time…) The 16GB internal drive will be for stuff I don’t mind keeping on the netbook itself (media files, references, etc.)

  5. I’m not 100% sure, but from what I’ve read online about SSDs, most people claim that, while SSDs can only be written a fixed number of times, that amount of times is more than most regular hard drives. I still like hard drives better though.

  6. Damn it all! Now I want a new eeepc. The 1000HE looks sexy. It’s got 160gb, a real HDD, 9 hour battery life, bluetooth, 802.11n, and it’s a nice medium size. Not too small, not too big. Now where can I find $400? This thing is like 40 times better than my 701!!

  7. I’m willing to sacrifice the size and disk space for portability (including longer-lasting battery).

    I figure if I could get used to my laptop before last (a rather small Averatec device with a very cramped keyboard) I can get used to an 8.9″-diagonal-screen netbook.

    From what I remember, each individual spot on the SSD can be written a few thousand times before dying. Supposedly, the “wear-leveling” algorithms built into the drives should spread all writes out over the drive pretty evenly, so that (also supposedly) the drive shouldn’t start dying until you’ve effectively written several thousand times the entire drive’s capacity to it. I’m a bit skeptical about precisely how long it will take to do that given my propensity to heavily use my computers, but I’ve at least gotten pretty confident that by the time the drive starts dying, a replacement of equivalent size ought to be down to $25-30…

  8. Good point. Yeah, all hard drives fail eventually, so needing to replace them is inevitable. And that’s exactly why my particular model of eeepc is just not good enough. I bet it would be cheaper to buy a new model (maybe not the 1000HE), than to get a new SSD soldered on. The only reason I even have the 701 is because my bank was offering them to anyone who had a certain $11/mo. bank account, with a few other conditions, but all fees considered, I got it for under $100. I just hope the SSD lasts until I can afford a better one. I’m gonna stick with the eeepc for a replacement definitely, just a much better model.

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