The Linux Netbook Experiment – Part 2

My HP Mini 1503 running Linux “SLED” arrived today, and boy was I disappointed. Here’s why my experiment seems to have gone off the rails.

1) I paid extra for a higher-resolution display and a faster video card. The result of this is that the text and icons are so tiny that I feel like I’m going blind every time I look at the screen. Worse yet, when I try to watch video from YouTube or Hulu, the framerate is significantly slower than it should be, giving video an unpleasant, jerky look. Vimeo, with its higher bit rate, barely works at all, and is comletely unwatchable. If I don’t go YouTube and Hulu play fairly well, but I’m looking at an image approximately the size of an iPhone screen, which rather defeats the purpose of a larger device.

2) SLED Linux seems to be actually worse than Windows. Not only does it require me to enter my password for every operation (including waking the computer from sleep), and not provide me any way to adjust the excessive security settings, it won’t allow me to install any of the software I want to use.

3) After I ordered this computer, I received no order confirmation or email of any kind from HP. I couldn’t track my order on, or check the status of delivery. It just showed up one day on my doorstep, with no invoice or receipt, just a packing slip (which doesn’t have an order number on it). I called HP sales, and they had no record of my order, so the woman I spoke with told me to call the HP parts office. I called the number she gave me, and it was not in service. I Googled HP Parts, and called the number that came up. That turned out to be some other parts place, but the lady gave me a number for HP. After 20 minutes with them, I was told that my order was a custom configuration, so tech support would be able to get my order number and invoice. The tech support guy talked to his supervisor, and they couldn’t find any record of my order either. At that point, I just gave up.

So, now I’ve got a computer I can’t use without major eyestrain, on which I can’t install the software I need to make it functional, and I have no order number to refer to when I call HP and try to get them to take it back. Of course, because I paid extra for the custom configuration, they’re not going to want to take it back at all.

To add insult to injury, I just discovered that Dell has been selling a range of computers (including a netbook and laptop) running Linux Ubuntu for years. So, for the same money I paid for my useless 10″ SLED paperweight, I could have had a  much more powerful 15″ laptop with exactly the OS and flexibility I wanted.


Well, it appears that my main problem is that I’m a moron. SLED allowed me to change my desktop and font preferences so that I can use it comfortably, and it also allowed to fairly easily install “repositories” which act as indices of additional software.

I was able to install Scribus (page layout) and Blender 3D (modeling/animation) without issue. GIMP (image editing) installed, but won’t run, so I have to figure out what’s wrong there. No video editing packages were included in the repositories I’ve installed, so I’ll need to hunt around a bit for that as well. But overall, things are starting to work the way I had intended.

I’m still annoyed that I could have gotten an Ubuntu laptop from Dell, but this was an experiment, and I would prefer to see it through. More to the point, my initial hissy fit seems to have been largely unjustified. Live and learn!


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