HP Mini is a Cooper S

Once upon a time HP and DEC computers were made by engineers for engineers. The biggest difference between them was that some HP customers wore ties. Having just taken delivery of a HP Mini 5101 pre-loaded with Suse Linux Enterprise Edition 11, it appears that HP still has some engineers left, hiding deep within, perhaps only coming out at night. Certainly the suits running HP don’t seem to want customers to know that Suse is an option. And Novell doesn’t seem all that keen on its adopted child, either.

Thank you, HP, and well done.

However, the word “Enterprise” should have warned me, as a Mac user, that this is not for the casual consumer. Things I wish I had known before I started:

  • it would demand 3 different passwords, and get very upset if it thought the passwords were inadequate; if a computer can curl its lip in contempt, Mini curled
  • it wanted a wired network connection so I could register, and would not ask for a wireless password until after the system was configured (perhaps I could have entered it during configuration, I have no idea)
  • once it had failed to register me, and kindly told me to register later, it hid the registration function far away from prying eyes; perhaps it’s an intelligence test (which I probably failed)

But it’s all working, all the updates applied themselves and it’s really very nice. The screen is sharp and bright. The keyboard is IMHO superior to the one on the 43cm (17 inch in old money) MacBook sitting 5 cm to the right. All up it’s a pleasure to use. Only…

Is it really progress to make Linux look like Windows on a bad hair day? Did the interface designers miss Windows 3.1 or something?

Adobe Acrobat? Is that really the best you can do? Repeat after me: free as in speech; not free as in beer.

Um… Where is The Gimp?

Why can I not change the date format from Tue Sep 29 to Tue 29 Sep? Earth to Novell: simple things should be easy; hard things should be possible. What is so hard about changing the date format? Haven’t you ever used a Mac? It’s not exactly atomic physics.

And why does Mini refuse to boot into the Ubuntu Netbook Remix from a USB drive? There must be a trick; it works for others. Will keep trying.

Thanks to Ascent for supplying with Suse. If I were a Windows user, I’d feel right at home with Suse, only faster and more secure. But as a mere consumer, I think I want Ubuntu.

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