Monday, December 22, 2008

My new MSI Wind and Ubuntu

I just bought a MSI Wind U100-420US netbook to replace a dying Sony Vaio. I got it for several reasons:
  1. I like small things that are easily portable - I suppose I am out of shape, but regularly sized laptops are actually fairly heavy. I do not want to carry a backpack everywhere I go, and a messenger bag or other bag with one strap, when a laptop is in it, causes my shoulder to cramp up.
  2. There are no other laptops out there right now that I find particularly interesting or desirable. The new Apple MacBook is nice, but not much of an improvement over their older MacBook (which Matthew has), and the Sony Vaio VGN-Z530N is pretty great spec-wise as well as light, but not quite worth $1600 to me (almost though - this was a pretty serious contender).
  3. Has a greater-than-16GB hard drive. I'd like to actually have space to download photos from my camera to, etc.
  4. There is a nice wiki on how to install Ubuntu on it.
  5. Was the cheapest Netbook I could find.
Once I finishd installing Ubuntu, it was time to try to fix all the little bugs. This part is mostly for me, to remember what I did in case I have to undo it or if I need to do this again for some reason.
  1. First I needed to get wireless working. Currently, the Realtek 8187 wireless card is not natively supported in Ubuntu, but you can compile them from source provided by Realtek. I chose to just install the .debs someone else made.
  2. I had a hard drive clicking problem which I fixed by turning off drive power management. (I used hdparm -B 255... 192 didn't fix the clicking for me.)
  3. Fixing the hard drive clicking is part of the fix for suspend - I also changed alsa as specified in that wiki article above, and suspend seems to work now.
  4. The Adobe Flash Player 10 .deb works just fine.
  5. I also installed Netbook Remix packages. It's quite nice, although there are some bugs. For instance, netbook-launcher (formerly ume-launcher) does not play nice with compiz.
There are still issues I would like to fix: for instance, I'd like to be able to modify the touchpad settings, and haven't bothered trying the webcam tweaks (I don't really need a webcam).

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