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Nomad83 Nomad83 is offline
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Default Mini 9 Ubuntu Beginner's Guide - 02-07-2009, 05:32 PM

Hello everyone,

I recently purchased an 8GB Ubuntu Mini 9 from the Dell Outlet during the last coupon craze and I've compiled a few notes of my experiences and thoughts over the last week which I think may be beneficial others in a similar situation, as well as providing a thread to further improve the Mini experience. I know alot of this information is in threads here and there, but as a new user, it would have been really helpful to have a single reference for all of this when setting up the Mini for the first time.

1) Dell Outlet - My 'Certified Refurbished' was shipped on the same day as my order and arrived from LaVergne, TN in just two business days. The laptop is almost indistinguishable from new, except for an easily removable green sticker on the bottom. Basically, the outlet offers really good deals over the new configurations!

2) My mini came shipped with BIOS A00. The newest revision as of this writing is A04, which includes previous improvements like better power management, mapping F11 and F12 to FnZ and FnX, stoping the display resolution from switching at boot and the screen from dimming on AC power. The dell site only has the windows based utility, so for Ubuntu users, the best way to update the BIOS is with the USB DOS flash key utility:

http://stashbox.org/browse.php?q=flashBIOS

3) Dell's custom launcher on top of Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 is a decent way to get around, but hides so much of the potential of the machine. For the more traditional ubuntu shell, use switch windows mode under the applications launcher.

4) I was having issues getting wireless to connect to my network. Though I could see the SSIDs I couldn't connect. Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 has improved network management support and is really easy to install. I used uinetboot to create a USB bootable image for the 8.10 image straight from Canonical. Simply plug that USB into the Dell Mini and Boot from USB under boot options (0 at dell logo startup). You'll need to make two configuration adjustments to get sound and fix USB after installation, complete instructions are here:

http://www.ubuntumini.com/2008/10/insta ... -mini.html

5) Now that we've got the latest BIOS and Ubuntu, I found some of the following tweaks useful: Installing Advanced CompizConfig Settings manager to enable Desktop Cube, Rotating Cube, 3D Windows, Wobbly Windows, etc for some impressive eye candy for when you're showing off your Mini. I personally shut off keyboard repeat, as it decreases mistakes that I make from the smaller keyboard. I've added a widget layer under CCSM along with a program called screenlets (http://www.screenlets.org or search the add/remove tool), which can be enabled as widgets and can display weather, stocks, time, calculator, RSS and Tomboy Notes. I've mapped the rotate right to the menu key and the widget layer to super(aka windows key)+menu under. To maximize desktop space, I've added hide buttons to each of the panels so I can get the out of the way for larger windows. This configuration is very work friendly for me, and doesn't affect performance significantly.

6) Some really helpful links I've come across in my week with the mini:

http://www.mydellmini.com (of course, you're already here!)
http://www.ubuntumini.com
http://www.ubuntuforums.org
http://www.linuxquestions.org
http://www.google.com (of course! But add Ubuntu or Ibex or Dell Mini along with the search for better results!)

I'm still finding new things to tweak and perfect, but I am extremely happy with my Mini 9, and glad I went with Ubuntu over Windows since it has given me a chance to get my feet wet with a linux distro. If anyone has anything to add, specific to improving a new user's Mini 9 Ubuntu experience, please include it below!

Still looking for:

Recommended Programs and Repositories
Performance Improvements
Battery Life Improvements
More Appearance/Usability Tweaks
Hardware/Accessory Suggestions
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FCrescioni FCrescioni is offline
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Default Re: Mini 9 Ubuntu Beginner's Guide - 02-07-2009, 07:03 PM

Nomad,

Thank you for posting this; I found it useful.

I too bought my mini from the outlet and I was pleasantly surprised with my cherry red base model especially for less than $200 delivered.

A useful accesory is a sleeve and there is a thread devoted to it; however for this discussion I would strongly recommend the sleeve from dealextreme for aronund $5. It fits well and provides adequate proctection inside my normal briefcase and I go airport security without having to take it out.

Cheers,
-frank
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