Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Remix On An HP Mini 2140 Netbook - Part 3

Now that I have Ubuntu Netbook Remix installed on my HP Mini 2140 netbook, I became aware of another thing about the HP that is different from my Lenovo S10-2 netbook, and that was the display size and clarity. At first I thought it was simply my imagination but after comparing the powered-up netbooks side by side, it became apparent that the display on the HP was very much sharper and was easier to read. It was also noticeable that the HP's screen was slightly smaller than the Lenovo's - which was confirmed by the specification in the HP Mini 2140 Data Sheet. The HP has a 1024 x 576 pixels screen while the Lenovo has the normal (for a netbook, that is) 1024 x 600 pixels screen. Why this was so is not clear but the type of LCD panel used by HP resulted in the sharper and clearer display than the Lenovo - so I am not complaining :)

Another feature of the HP that differs from the Lenovo is the standard battery that came with the netbook. HP only supplies a 3-cell battery as standard while Lenovo supplies a 6-cell one. Obviously this has an impact on battery life under normal netbook usage. According to reports and reviews found on the web, the 3-cell battery on the HP was only good for about 2 hours under normal usage - compare this with an actual 4.5 hours which was actually obtained by me for the Lenovo. So, if I wanted to extend the battery life on the HP, I have to purchase the optional 6-cell battery. After making several inquiries, I discovered to my horror that such a battery cost around 25% of the actual cost of the netbook! Way to go HP! Is this your way of screwing your users? In retrospect, I should have expected this - after all, after working with HP for more than 20 years, I should know by now that HP stands for High Price.

Expect for the 6-cell battery price farce, I found several things to like about the HP Mini 2140 - which was a saving grace (else I would have just got rid of it). One, as I mentioned previously, was the sharp screen display. The other likable item was the keyboard - the keys were large and nice to use - unlike the somewhat soggy feel of the Lenovo's keyboard. I also felt that the inclusion of the ExpressCard/54 slot as a nice feature to have - provided, of course, I can get actual ExpressCard/54 cards locally. As mentioned previously, I am looking for a 4-port USB ExpressCard/54 card in order to expand the number of available USB ports. More on this ExpressCard later.

Anyway, enough about the HP Mini - allow me to elaborate on my first impression of the new Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Remix (UNR) OS. The first and most noticable impression is the new color scheme (or theme). The standard brown scheme found in the previous version (9.10) has been replaced with a purple, gray, and orange theme called Ambiance. Personally, I prefer the old scheme but I could live with the new one. Fortunately the background could be easily be changed to almost anything I wish and I do have some nice images to serve as the background. This was the first thing I did on the netbook - copy my favorite images to my home folder (Pictures subfolder) and changed the background to my liking.

The next (and somewhat irritating) thing I noticed about the new UNR is that, for some reason or another, the Canonical team decided to place the windows control (maximize, minimize and close) buttons on top left side of the windows - instead of the usual (and familiar) top right side. According to reviews found on the web, the decision was to copy the Mac OS layout. It was also evident from the various posts on various user forums that this was not a popular decision. Fortunately, there is a way to restore the placement of the button back to the 'normal' position. The procedure can be found at this link (

As the HP netbook is to be a mobile device, battery life must be preserved at all time - which means that the power management utility in the new UNR must work correctly. This was tested next - the result was not very encouraging - in fact, it was downright disappointing. On my other netbook (the Lenovo S10-2), power management worked flawlessly with the UNR 9.10. When I close the lid of the Lenovo netbook, the system went to sleep. At the predetermined time it went into hibernation. With this power management I was able to make the battery last for the duration I am on the road. On the HP, closing the lid did not do anything - the only way I could put the HP netbook to sleep was to do it manually by pressing the Fn+F1 key combination. Opening the lid after manually putting the HP netbook to sleep did not 'wake' it up - again I had to manually wake it up using the on/off button. To my alarm, I noted that it did not prompt me for a password upon waking up (as it is supposed to) - it just restored the last screen. Plainly, the 10.04 UNR's power management utility did not work as it was supposed to do.

After doing a bit of research on the web, I discovered that there was indeed a unresolved bug concerning the HP 2140 and its lid closing detection on UNR 10.04. It seems to be unique to the HP - other netbook did not seem to be affected. At the moment, it cannot be determined as to when this issue will be resolved. This fact alone put a bit of a damper for my plans for the HP Mini 2140 and I need to re-think them for my 'sleep-deprived' netbook.

More to come ... stay tuned.

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