I ♥ the Minister of Domestic Affairs

The Minister of Domestic Affairs has given the go-ahead to find myself a netbook to take the place of my gigantic beast of an aging laptop. Now I just have to figure out which one to go for.

A white 'Sylvania G Meso' netbookI’ve got the selection narrowed down to four possibilities. Irritatingly, I cannot seem to find Linux-based netbooks in retail outlets thus far. I tend to prefer to get things like this retail, so that if I start them up and find they’re defective (or if they die in the first few days), I can just take it back and exchange it, rather than calling some call-center halfway around the globe, sitting on hold for an hour, dealing with some schmuck going through the “did you plug it in? Did you turn it on?” script, finally getting an RMA#, and then paying to ship the thing back and being without a computer for 2-4 weeks until the replacement arrives.

Currently, my first choice is the Sylvania G Meso Linux version, which seems to be a very good value and is well-supported by Linux – plus for a computer that I have to order, I should be able to get it shipped quickly. My second and third choices would be either a Dell Mini 9 or HP Mini 1110NR. Those give me more customization options (and the HP keyboard is perhaps one of the most usable “small netbook” ones), but Dell and HP would take almost 2 weeks after taking my money to finally get the thing assembled and sent to me.

The last option would be to go to Wal-Mart® or similar cheap-electronics place and get an Acer Aspire One crippled with a “Windows XP Home” OS, and take it home in a lead-lined box until it can be overwritten with a real OS (and then perhaps argue with Acer about getting a refund for the unused and unwanted Windows license.).

Some people probably think I’m insane for wanting a tiny little netbook (and I do specifically want the smallest netbook I can reasonably use – I’ll actually take the 8.9″ version over the 10″ version) to replace a laptop. Thing is, Intel Atom 270N-based netbooks should be somewhat better-performing than my old full-size laptop with its old “Turion 64 ML-30” processor (same clock speed as the Atom, with less than half the bus speed and an order of magnitude higher power consumption…) and will have a much better-supported graphics chipset. My view of Google Earth might be a bit more constrained than on my big 1280×768 giganto-laptop screen, but it ought to be smoother…

Anybody have any suggestions? The actual distribution of Linux that it comes with is essentially irrelevant, as I’ll almost certainly replace it with either Gentoo (if it has a large, standard hard drive) or Arch (if it has a solid-state drive).

Another Asterisk post to follow, later, too. Keep watching…

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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.

4 thoughts on “I ♥ the Minister of Domestic Affairs”

  1. I have an Asus eeepc v701 thats pretty good. I run debian on it with no problems. The newer models of eeepc probably have much higher specs than mine, so maybe you should look into one of those? I run debian on mine and the only beef I have with my version is the hard drive is actually a flash drive thats soldered directly to the motherboard. It’s got 3 usb 2.0 ports, an SDHC card reader, and a well supported wireless g card, as well as a built-in microphone, tinny little speakers, and a decent webcam. If I were to buy one now, I would get a newer model though, as I think they have changed the method of storage in the newer ones to something that’s not soldered on. They might not be worth it for the price, but I would look into it if I were you. I love mine.

  2. I have an Asus EEEPc 900. 20GB solid state HD. It has an SDHC card reader and for $10 I added an additional 16GB of memory. Wireless works like a champ, the battery has a tremendous lifespan and bluetooth (though I have not yet used my phone as a modem). It’s a champ of a computer. I love it (and use it) more than my Gateway and Lenovo laptops.

  3. Hmmm, that’s two people with eeePC’s who seem pleased with them…

    The specifications on the eee901 look quite appealing – decent sized for a solid-state drive, plus all but one of the optional features that I would like (webcam, built-in microphone, built-in bluetooth). I assume the video is the current Open-source-supported-3D-acceleration Intel chipset. The only missing feature is 2GB of RAM, which judging by the “people who bought this also bought…” entry is easily upgradeable.

    AND it’s actually in stock!

    How is the keyboard on the eeePC’s?

    I’m still slightly conflicted about the SSD vs a “real” (old-school/big/power-hungry) hard drive. I’m beginning to think I’d be better off giving up on having a “real” hard drive and learning to pay more attention to how much writing my computer does and how much I keep on it anyway, for when the inexpensive dual-core ARM-based netbooks come out…

  4. The keyboard takes some getting used to. I’m about to get a rollup USB keyboard for mine for when I really don’t want to drag my full-sized Lenovo laptop around with me to conferences but I don’t want to make as many mistakes typing as I do when I’m writing on my Asus. The longer I type on it, the easier it is … but I do miss the number pad on the right hand side of the keyboard.

    The keyboard itself appears sturdy and durable (been using it for 6 months now with no complaints) … and though YMMV it’s the impression I get from the entire computer.

    As I said up above though, you can get a 160GB EEEPc 900HA with a 160 GB HD but it comes with XP. It may be the compromise you’d seek especially if you were going to install a new OS anyways.

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