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MattCasters
10-24-2009, 02:00 PM
Dear Linux fans,

Last weekend I saw an ad for a netbook (http://hercules.com/nl/ecafe/bdd/p/114/ecafe-trade-ec-900b-h120g-v-linux-/) in a Carrefour superstore leaflet that I guess was just too good to refuse.

http://hercules.com/thumb/?q=95&w=308&h=308&src=D:\inetpub\www.hercules.com\fichier\h_photo\456\photo_file_linux.ec900.png&f=jpeg&bg=FFFFFF

Unlike other netbooks, this one was priced really low: €199,00 (including taxes which makes it cost my company €164.46 or about 200 $USD). For me, that’s the price point where a netbook makes sense, not €400-500 what you see all over the place.

Now, for that low price, you get the following machine:



1.6Ghz VIA C7-M CPU
512MB RAM (DDR2 667, shared with video, 384 available)
120GB hard disk (2.5″, 7200rpm)
1024×600 LCD screen (pretty good quality actually)
Webcam
WIFI b/g
2xUSB 2.0
VGA port
a multi-format card reader (SD, SDHC, MMC)
Microphone
Sound in/out
Mandriva Linux 2009.1

It was very interesting to see that “Windows 2007 Home Premium” was priced at exactly the same price. Talk about a total waste of money on the Microsoft side.

OK, back to the netbook. The memory issue is not a problem. I already ordered a 2GB DDR2 RAM module for the machine at €39.

Performance is obviously not stellar but I didn’t expect this either. I paid less for it then my current cell phone. However, it plays full screen AVI without a glitch.

The only real problem the box has is that it comes with … Mandriva Linux. Maybe I’m spoiled by years of Ubuntu use, but this distribution really sucks. Can I please just install some software, customize the UI a bit? Please? I don’t recall the last time I couldn’t install a piece of software on Ubuntu because a package couldn’t be downloaded. WTF? And charge €28 just to get a couple of codecs to play audio/video? I can legally use these drivers in Europe without a problem.

Don’t get me wrong, all hardware is supported and works fine, including audio, the webcam, skype, flash, etc.

Anyway, I tried to put Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 on it by booting from a USB stick. Unfortunately, either the image or the stick has an issue since it freezes upon installer boot. The live system boots but has a nasty video problem. So I’m going to retry later next week. Heck, maybe it’s better to just wait until Kubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix comes out next week.

Feel free to leave advice on what distro to pick and how to best handle the install. Also feel free to leave tips on how to explain the kids that this is not a toy.

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,

Matt



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