I spent more hours than I care to admit this past weekend working with and on my Dell Mini10V netbook, which I purchased back in August. I ordered it with Dell’s version of Ubuntu Linux pre-installed, but hadn’t tried installing other versions of Linux or other operating systems until this past Friday.

Dell Mini10v netbook

Overall, this entire experience REALLY makes me appreciate my Apple software and hardware SO much. It is not fun to mess with BIOS flashes, terminal commands, DOS bootups, etc. I’m still amazed by the power and capabilities of Linux, particularly Ubuntu, but I’m also glad to largely remain (at this point) a Mac user. Technically, I suppose, you could call me a joyful Mac user, a reluctant Windows user (now Win7 as well as WinXP), and a tentative Linux dabbler. šŸ™‚

Awhile back I learned that the Windows 7 “pre-release candidate” operating system was available as a free download from Microsoft. I figured I would give that a try on my netbook to see how it ran. The download is no longer available from Microsoft, but if you already have a copy you can still obtain free license codes from Microsoft through October 21st. After playing with it a bit this weekend, it seems pretty snappy and the eye candy is OK. Under the hood, of course, it still is Windows, so I’ll likely use it as little as possible. Still, it is good to have some fluency and literacy in other operating systems. I also installed an instance of Win7 on my MacBook using Parallels 4 this weekend, and was pleased with the updates the Parallels folks have made to their virtualization solution.

In addition to installing Win7 on my netbook I also tried the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. James Deaton suggested I give the new Ubuntu 9.10 beta a try, which has fixed some video and performance issues on netbooks. I may try that down the road.

In researching ways to install Win7 on my netbook (since I don’t have a DVD drive and must install everything via a USB flash drive or online) I read quite a few forum posts in the MyDellMini website. There are a LOT of folks, apparently, creating “hackintoshes” out of their Dell netbooks by installing Mac OS X on them. In some cases, people are using a free bootloader configuration program like EasyBCD in conjunction with the free programs NetbookInstaller and NetbookBootMaker to dual-boot with both Mac OS X and Windows7. The MyDellMini forum post, “MacOSX Snow Leopard / Win7 Dual Boot Success: Dell Mini10v,” is particularly thorough in covering these procedures, but there are MANY more posts that offer different alternatives for achieving this “dual boot” functionality.

I am NOT officially condoning the practice of making a “hackintosh” computer with a $300 netbook, since the installation of Mac OS X software on a hardware platform NOT created by Apple officially breaks the software user’s agreement and contract. It seems unfortunate that the installation and use of Mac OS software on different platforms remains something schools cannot legally do, even if they purchase software licenses legitimately from Apple. As I wrote in last week’s post, “Apple iPad rumors, Netbooks, and Commodifcation,” Apple does NOT appear poised to enter the netbook market anytime soon. Eventually, I think the computing devices students and teachers use in schools will have to be “commodified” for those technology tools to become affordable for all. That is one of the reasons I remain so interested in netbooks and their capabilities. I love my Macs, iPhone and iPods, but it boggles my mind to see how much power is available today in a $300 netbook.

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  • I too did the Win 7 RC. As with Vista, there are several “flavors” of Win 7. The RC is the highest (most loaded) version of the OS. As such, it’s the version that many will not purchase.

    The only other drawback to having Win 7 RC is come this spring it deactivates and you will have to install a new OS. There is no plan from Microsoft to allow users of the RC to enter a “permanent” registration code.

    As for Ubuntu, I too have been very impressed with it’s functionality and just how robust the package is. I have also deployed openSUSE Lunix and CentOS Linux and Ubuntu Linux is my preference, by far.

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