Having a play with the HP mini-note

You might have read here my post on the rumours of the HP 2133 Mini-note. About a month ago I managed to coerce one of the first 5 in Australia from the hands of the HP sales team here in Sydney. Because I didn’t want to annoy them and destroy the supplied Vista installation, I was limited to how much testing I could do with Linux on this. We did setup an 2GB SD card with Ubuntu that worked quite well. Certainly the Ubuntu desktop was a lot smoother in terms of performance than Vista. I also had a go with the SuSE image that comes with the Mini-note, though didn’t want to let it install to the hard disk. Again it ran quite well.

As far as a mobile device you can actually use it is way up there. The keyboard is really as big and useful as they claim, certainly better than some of the competition. Having a full aluminium shell makes it feel very solid, and should standup to everyday knocks and just shoving it into a bag – its main target market is college and school students, so it needs to hand. The screen is very clear – but of course being only 9″ diagonal wide-screen, I’m not sure I could use it as my main screen every day – the VGA port would definitely be made use of.

I took it along to the monthly SLUG meeting and follow-on dinner to give it an informal spruik. It provoked quite an interest and envy – I expect it might make a few people’s wish list. Unfortunately I had to give this one back. I think it is quite likely this form-factor is on the rise, particular as performance actually becomes useful, and battery life allows one to work on the road (though at the moment a spare battery is a necessity to cover a full working day). There is only so much you can do with a PDA or a Smartphone – a ultra-mobile mini-notebook with good networkability and running a nicely integrated version of Linux may well “make it”.

The photo below show it running Ubuntu next to my regular laptop (with a 15.1″ 4:3 screen).

HP 2133 next to nc6320

Sydney OLPC techfest

On Sunday 1st June Riverview College hosted the first OLPC Australia Techfest. Its aim to stimulate interest in supporting the OLPC project in this region from a technical point of view was well met. We had about 50 or so delegates. The two main presenters were Martin Langhoff and Joel Stanley. Martin has primary responsibility for the XS, the School Server. Joel has been an intern with OLPC in Boston last year, and has intimate knowledge of XO innards. There was a good mixture of delegates, those that have had quite a bit of exposure to the project, and those only learning. There were a few people interested in working on the content and documentation which was great to see. There is a large general open-source community in Australia, so I feel sure given a little bit of a push there is likely to be strong interest in supporting this project in the region. While the technology itself is becoming quite mature, with many 100s of 1000s of machines heading to the field as we speak, regional customisation support for local deployments is going to needed. OLPC Australia sees its “target market” as not only Australia and New Zealand, but also the large number of Pacific nations. I would certainly like to be involved in deployments, assuming I can set aside the time and money for this.

Martin LanghoffJoel Stanley