Archived entries for HP

Koala Bites Man

HP Mini came pre-loaded with SUSE Linux Enterprise Edition version 11. There is much to like about this and if I were coming from Microsoft Windows, I would be very comfortable to carry on using it. But it’s seriously corporate, and HP Mini lives mostly at home. So last night, I took the plunge and installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10; Karmic Koala to its friends. Bye bye geeko, hello koala.

I created USB versions of the regular Ubuntu and the Netbook Remix, and tested them both before opting for the Netbook Remix. In particular, I made sure wireless worked, which involved activating the proprietary Broadcom driver. Ubuntu told me to activate the driver and gave me the activate screen, Press the Activate button. No problem, everything worked flawlessly when running off the USB drive.

Then I installed the Netbook Remix on my hard drive. And the Koala bit me. Activate the Broadcom driver. Enter password. Press Activate. Enter password. Press Activate. Enter password. Press Activate. Nix. Nada. Nothing. WTF? The driver is there. Ubuntu knows it needs to be activated. It tells me to activate it. It knows I entered the correct password. But it does not work.

After hours of searching, the solution eventually emerged from Google, as other people discovered the same problem and mostly failed to solve it. There were lots of messages of the form, “I tried xyz and it didn’t work.”  I finally found a solution that worked for me. In Terminal:
sudo apt-get remove dkms
sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source

Then restart the computer.

Let’s get this straight. It’s a netbook remix, aimed at consumers. Most netbooks don’t have an Ethernet port and rely on wireless to connect to the Internet. If there is one thing to get right, it’s wireless networking. This is a bug pure and simple. Did anybody actually test this? Not good enough, Mr Shuttleworth.

Apart from the wireless bug, the Netbook Remix is nicely put together. The work the visual design team has done to conserve vertical screen space is excellent; everything fits into one bar at the top of the screen, instead of the 3 bars that the regular Ubuntu uses. So: top honours to the designers; the testers have some explaining to do.

My next quest is to find a way to add a second workspace and move between them.

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.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.