Friday, June 06, 2008

No Love for the HP2133 Mininote

Maybe I should have called this post, I Hate Closed Hardware instead.

When I attended Linuxfest NorthWest 2008 I stood before the HP booth and fondled the HP 2133 Mininote. A bit larger and heaver than the EeePC that was in my bag at the time (running Ubuntu Gutsy, thank you very much), but with more of everything (CPU, drive, resolution). It was perfect for my summer of traveling, I convinced myself.

So I ordered one.

In fact I ordered the KX870AT version - yes, the one with Microsoft Windows Vista pre-installed. Simply because I wanted better hardware than what was available for the SLED version - I had no intentions of using Vista on this device (beyond giving it a test).

It arrives, the box is so nice and light - opening it, I love the feel of the hardware, from the keyboard to the brushed metal case. I plug it in and turn it on - thus begins my 5 hour introduction to Vista on the Mininote. There must be some tie at HP, or perhaps a lawyer from MS, that forces this operating system on this hardware - because I can not imagine any technical person alive willing to live with the pain of watching this device crawl with Vista installed (public execution is too good for this person).

Part of my pain was trying to create recovery discs - there simply was no way to do it from the device. The instructions that came with the device, online at HP, were all stating the same thing - use an application that was not installed on the device. I must have fucked up right? A Google later, discovered I wasn't alone - far from it. No problem, I call HP Support. Now I have no beef with the people I talked too at HP Support - but the woman that I finally got wanted me to burn a windows backup and did not seem to understand my request for recovery discs instead. I got a little grumpy (those that know me are shocked right?) and told her just to ship the recovery discs and I'll pay for it - well she did ship them, no charge and I received 3 business days later (seemed she did understand the difference from a backup and a recovery disk after all).

Okay, scrub Vista off this device (spouting shit all the while about the guy who should be shot for making the decision to pair the two together) - lets get back into Linux. I had such high hopes.

I did a little research, seems you have to tweak Ubuntu Hardy to get it installed - no problem. Right? No joy, no graphics acceleration or it craps out something else - have to hack to get the earphone to work and for the life of me I can't figure out why network manager can see the wireless networks but can't connect.

Okay, I'm moaning in pain at this point.

So I don't want SLED, why not see if OpenSuse 10.3 will do just as well - ha, fat chance. Maybe version 11 that comes out in 12 days (from now) - you would think they would incorporate the drivers and configuration right? Geez, I hope so. I will try it again later - after the pain ebbs away.

What the hell is the devices' problem anyways? I blame the closed source, the VIA Chrome 9 (yes they just released open drivers - maybe I have early adapter syndrome) and the Broadcom wireless (someone firebomb their offices for me please).

Anyways, I'm a little bitter about the whole thing - I lost a weekend to this device and its still not to a base level that I'm happy with. I placed it on my shelf and there it sits - having to remind myself that this is what happens when you buy out of lust rather than love.

My recommendation is to stay away from this device, all models - but if you really love the outer shell like I did, to wait to see if the distros better support it or HP makes better decisions on hardware. I've my EeePC, as claustrophobic as the screen and keyboard feel - I'll use it over the Mininote any day.