Jaunty Jackalope


I mentioned recently in What’s Happening? my purchase of a Dell Latitude XT2. One option during the purchase was a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 for $99. Even after upgrading the components, such as upsizing the SSD from 4GB to 32GB and adding Bluetooth, the price was only $169. For that paltry price, it’s hard to say no, and I didn’t. I’m sure I can find some use for this netbook.

The OS was XP Home. I wanted to try Linux instead. I had heard that Linux might be a better choice for a netbook like the Mini 9 which doesn’t have a lot of power under the hood (Intel Atom processor N270, 1.6GHz, 1GB RAM). I also thought that trying Linux would be a good learning experience for me in teaching computer science at my community college.

There are many “flavors” of Linux. Ubuntu one of the most common for netbooks. Indeed, I could have ordered Linux Ubuntu instead of XP Home for the Mini 9. However, Dell would have provided an older version than currently available (more on this below). So I decided to order XP Home because it didn’t cost extra and I figured I would have a license to revert to XP if my Linux adventure didn’t work out.

I installed the current version of Ubuntu, 9.04. It’s named the Jaunty Jackalope (see the Jackalope Wiki for more on this beast). If the moniker sounds strange, 9.04 was preceded by the Intrepid Ibex (8.10) and the Hardy Heron (8.04, the one shipped by Dell with the Mini 9), and will be followed later this year by the Karmic Koala (9.10).

Installation was uneventful. I used the so-called Graphical Install method to install 9.04. I downloaded an iso file, burned it to a DVD and set the boot order so the DVD would precede the SSD. The install is graphical; no command line necessary. I answered some simple questions, the install completed, and after a restart, I was in!

Now that I was in, now what? Ubuntu 9.04 has a nice GUI, but it’s a very different GUI than Windows anything. It took me time to orient myself so I could find functionality such as WiFi. Fortunately, for once, help (here the 9.04 documentation) was helpful.

I checked out my Internet connections. My wired and wireless connections (including MiFi) work fine. My Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard drive was recognized. So far so good.

I also checked out available storage space, somewhat at a premium with a 32GB SSD. The OS took up only about 4GB, and this with a lot of built-in software. This was a welcome change from a space hog like Vista, and even somewhat less than XP Home. Performance also seemed snappier, though at this point that’s subjective.

That’s it for now. It’s been a busy evening. More later, probably on the software front.

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