Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I settled on an Acer Aspire One from Newegg. The exact model is the AOD 150-1577. The price was right and I am very happy with it and the extended battery life of the 6 cell battery. The Asus EEE-PC was a strong contender and honestly the choice came down to price. I may have gone with a Dell if the price was more competitive but I have had problems with very long waits from them.

One of the primary reasons for using an Aspire was the plethora of community documentation and support in relation to lesser known Linux distros that I like to play with, especially Puppy Linux. The more mature distros like Ubuntu seem well supported across most of the hardware, though, and I am happy to see so many netbooks shipped with Linux.

Mine came with XP and a lot of bloatware. I heartily reccomend a program called Revo Uninstaller when first buying a computer with lots of crap pre-installed. It does a good job of getting rid of installed programs more completely than the standard uninstallers. Or you can geek it up...

After confiming that everything worked correctly, the first thing I did was replace the hard drive and RAM. For the hard drive, I took apart a 320 gig Western Digital external drive and put that in place of the standard 160. I saw plenty of how tos that showed taking the case apart and putting it back together with the old netbook drive installed, but by the time I got the drive out the case was not really reusable. Thankfully I had a spare external case handy. Next I put in a 2 Gig RAM stick (20 bucks from newegg) and ended up with a faster machine with more storage.

Partitioning the hard drive is always the first step. There are plenty of how tos for that so suffice it to say I partitioned it out to hold my XP, a few Linux distros, swap, and about 200 Gigs left over for storage.
I really prefer Linux as an OS but I enjoy XP as well and find it very tweakable, so I started off with that as my primary OS. I used a version available 'around' called TinyXP. I had the good fortune of being able to use a friend's Acronis Enterprise with Universal Restore. Basically, I installed the OS into VirtualBox, added a few programs and then backed it up with Acronis, then used the recovery software off a USB drive to install it onto the netbook, using the Universal Restore feature. Initially I had trouble with the install failing until I discovered these SATA drivers, which I used at the appropriate step in the Universal Restore recovery process (These drivers would be useful in any process of intalling XP outside of the version provided). The result was a fully functional, stripped down, very efficient and pre built fully updated XP into which I installed all the additional drivers found on Acer's website. I really liked this process of preparing the OS as a virtual machine and then migrating it to the hardware.

Next I installed Xubuntu 9.04, which seems to work right out of the box - wireless and all. I have been messing with XP for now, though that will change soon, I am sure.

Next I'll go through my list of favorite programs.

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