hp 2133 mini-note and xubuntu

I was asked by a co-worker if I would install a different Linux distribution on the HP 2133 Mini-Note subnotebook that he bought for his 15 year old son. The netbook came with SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 installed and he was not happy with it.

I am much more familiar with Ubuntu than any other Linux distro, so I decided to install Xubuntu 8.10 on the netbook, since the Xfce desktop environment is a bit leaner than the GNOME environment, which is used by Ubuntu, and should perform better on more limited hardware (1.2 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM).

I created a bootable Xubuntu USB drive using the built-in utility introduced in the Ubuntu 8.10 release. The initial install from the USB drive went very quickly and very well. The only problems I encountered were that the wireless network card required a proprietary driver (Xubuntu automatically prompted me asking if I would allow it to install the driver) and the screen resolution was not correct.

To fix the screen resolution issue, I installed the VIA driver according to the instructions on this page and replaced the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file with the one given. The only remaining task was to install software packages that would be useful but do not come pre-packaged with the install (like Adobe Flash and the VLC media player).

That is essentially all there was to the install. This was one of the smoothest and fastest OS installations I have had.

The combination of the HP 2133 and Xubuntu yields a much faster experience than I anticipated, and Xfce is not nearly the compromise in usability that I assumed it would be. As a matter of fact, if it were not for the GNOME Do application, I would consider switching to Xubuntu as my primary OS for the speed.

The HP 2133 hardware is very nice. The keyboard is surprisingly usable (my main concern) and the hardware feels robust and it has a gorgeous display (1280x768). Unfortunately, this means that I may have to consider picking up something similar for my own personal use.