As I was sucked into apple by the 3rd Generation iPod' 'halo effect' (which I don't use anymore, but still works perfectly), I originally bought my Mini 9 to install OSX.
The only pieces of Apple hardware I use now are my iPhone 2G and G4 Mac Mini, but my main computer (another Dell), runs OSX.
I bought it second hand on eBay for Â£150, which, if I'd have waited a few days i later, I could've bought a refurb from the Dell Outlet with WWAN for less, which I'm a little gutted about.
It came with Windows XP, 8GB SSD
, 1GB RAM, Bluetooth, WLAN, a 0.3mp camera and A04 BIOS.
This came with my first mishap... I tried updating the BIOS in Windows - big mistake. I waited about 15 minutes with it seemingly unresponsive, so I turned it off. Next boot, I got nothing. So I looked on here, found that if I had a floppy disk and drive, I'd be able to save it hopefully. Went to Maplin and spent Â£30 on what would have been for a USB thumbdrive or 2GB RAM and managed to recover the BIOS. Awesome!
Now I embarked on installing OSX 10.5. I used the NetBookInstaller method, which worked perfectly, but it was an incredibly tight squeeze on the 8GB Drive. I used Grand Perspective, XSlimmer and Monolingual to free up space. I only really managed to have 1GB free, which meant Dropbox wouldn't work for me. However, OSX was doing a great job for me with the one exception of Flash player, but I was happy.
Then disaster day came. I was going to a job interview for a job that I wasn't really qualified for, and was super nervous. I stopped by Starbucks before I went in to have a drink and do a little last minute research on the company to stay fresh in my mind, I bought a bottle of water, and put it in my bag when I left. The interview wasn't great, I showed my nerves too much, and when I walked out of the building, I opened my bag to have a sip of water, and my bag was half filled like a bath. The mini 9 was in there, battery end down, immersed in this water. I pulled it out, disconnected the battery, poured the water out and cursed at myself in my head. I got home, put the whole laptop in rice for a day hoping it wouldn't be too bad.
It was, it turned on, but the screen was a mess of watery stains and a big blotchy watermark. Unsure of what else I could do, I clutched at straws (well a precision screwdriver) and dismantled it. I found there were still wet spots on the system board, so dabbed those away and took the screen assembly apart. I noticed a load of water under this clear plastic cover saying 'do not remove'. I pulled it back a little, then I did something a little odd - baked the components. I grabbed a large roasting tin, coated the bottom with rice, laid the screen and system board in there, and set the oven at 50 degrees celsius and baked for 4 hours.
I reassembled the mini 9, turned it on without the battery, but it gave me a strange error - Cannot detect battery, strike F1 to continue. I did this, it booted, but only stayed on for 2 minutes.I tried again with the battery in, but it gave the same error. I then left it for a week.
A week passed, and I had a little epiphany. I didn't try to dry the power switch. I didn't really think of any real impact of doing anything with it, but maybe it had something to do with it. So mini 9 back in pieces. I took the power switch out, there was some staining on there, so I wiped it away. Plugged the power back in, no complaints. plugged the battery in, it started charging. The screen is perfect aswell.
I'm not saying that you can just throw juice or coffee all over your mini 9 and it'd be fine, but the fact that it has no moving parts contributed to its durability.
Back to using the thing though. Snow Leopard is out, and I was intrigued to see how much space I could get by installing it. I tried a clean install, but the installer needed an extra 700mb, no matter what I did, it needed that extra space, so I had an empty SSD
. Tried Windows 7, was a disaster. It was too slow and had 0 space available. Downloaded Ubuntu 9.04. If I can get an Android phone, I would move all of my computers to Ubuntu, so I went into the install with an open mind. It installed ok, but flash was worse than in OSX, and audio in wouldn't work as much as I tried so I started looking for another thing. Saw Jolicloud and I signed up for it. It's a nice concept. But terribly, awfully slow! It locked up when I had google mail and firefox open at the same time.
I downloaded UNR 9.10 daily snapshot from yesterday, and so far, I am really impressed by it. The main screen is really good looking, the graphics driver is better, youtube and espn video run nicer and the charge/wireless statuses look more 'maclike'.
If Apple upsets me with their next iPhone update, or my iPhone ends up going wrong before then, I will be getting an Android powered phone and cutting my ties with Apple once and for all!
All in all, the Mini 9 is a great piece of hardware - the only real issue with it was human error! I now open up the MacBook I gave to my sister and it feels gigantic, in terms of hardware, the mini 9 is closer to how my old iBook 12" was. It's simple, small and is effective for what I do when mobile. Once I have the money for more RAM and a Runcore 32GB, I'll probably try Snow Leopard again, but I'm very happy with Ubuntu 9.10 and can't wait for it to be released and polished in October.