Anyone who read my last post knows I am not a fan at all of the HP Mobile Internet Experience. It was a huge disappointment that made me almost regret buying the HP Mini 1120nr.
Good thing I didn’t give up on it, though, just because of the bad MIE interface. I installed vanilla Ubuntu on it, and it’s great now!
First I had to consider whether to install Ubuntu lpia (lower-powered Intel architecture) or the regular i386 version. Presumably the lpia version is optimized for the Intel Atom processor in my HP Mini, but…
- The Ubuntu Netbook Remix comes with i386
- There isn’t any regular Ubuntu with lpia, as far as I can tell
- According to someone’s benchmarks, there aren’t any definite performance gains right now by switching from i386 to lpia
- And the supposed gains from lpia would be only an additional 10% battery life
…not to mention the fact that almost all third-party .deb files (TrueCrypt, DropBox, Opera) are compiled for i386. Since the battery life on the HP Mini appears to be between 2 and 2.5 hours (less than the 3 hours I got on my Eee PC 701), an added 12 to 15 minutes of battery life wouldn’t really help anyway. In any case, I don’t travel much, so battery life would be just something to brag about, not necessarily something I would need.
Instead of the hours I spent trying to make the MIE interface usable (to no avail, by the way, and it wasn’t any more responsive even after I switched from 1 GB to 2 GB of RAM), the Ubuntu installation and configuration took me only about 40 minutes and was extremely painless.
I took a vanilla Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), booted it from USB, clicked the Install button on the desktop, answered the easy questions quickly, resized my MIE partition to make way for regular Ubuntu, took 20 minutes to install, then rebooted.
Almost everything worked straight away—Compiz, screen resolution, function keys, resume from suspend. Even wireless worked (and it’s a Broadcom card, which is notoriously Linux-unfriendly). The only thing broken was sound. So I did a quick Google search and came across this fix. I pasted those few commands into the terminal, rebooted, checked a couple of boxes in the sound preferences (check to enable speakers, uncheck to disable PC beep), and everything was running quite smoothly—and with no lag at all.
It’s a shame HP didn’t put more usability testing into their preinstalled version of Ubuntu… or just put more thought into sticking with regular Ubuntu.
Edit (26 May, 2009): Actually, the sound settings would reset after each reboot. Usually, I just suspend to RAM, but every now and then I reboot, and it’s annoying to have to mute the PC Beep and unmute the PC Speaker every time.
The fix is:
- Get the volume settings exactly the way you want them.
- Paste the command sudo alsactl store into the terminal.
- Edit the /etc/rc.local file as root (sudo nano -B /etc/rc.local) and then add in the line alsactl restore before exit 0
Now if you reboot, your sound settings should stay the same.