Installing Skype for Linux on the Dell Mini 9

If you have tried installing the .deb package for Ubuntu from Skype you already know that you can’t because of errors relating to improper or wrong architecture. That is being caused by the way that Ubuntu sees the Intel Atom CPU. This is because Mini’s configuration is set to lpia not i386.

You can force the install from the command line. I have, and so far it is working great, including the built-in web cam. Download the current .deb from Skype and save it in your home directory. Open up a terminal window and run the following command: sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture skype-debian_2.0.0.72-1_i386.deb

*Please note that you must use two hyphens / dashes for the FORCE switch to work, WordPress does not show the command properly.

Obviously, you will need to substitute the package name for the version you downloaded. After running the command, you should be Skyping in no time.


Dell Inspiron Mini 9 running Ubuntu has arrived.

The Mini 9 shipped yesterday morning at 12:00am and arrived today around 10:00am, much faster than the delayed order status page. =

First impressions often count, and the Mini 9 delivers. As stated by many reviewers, the system feels like it costs much more than it actually does. The build quality appears and feels top notch, just like the 4 other Dell portables that I use. The package and its contents arrived neat and tight.

The default interface is a custom one provided by Dell. I think that the toolbar / access bar would be beneficial for people that are new to Ubuntu, or to those that look at it more as a communication tool with a stripped down OS. Personally, it was the first thing that I turned off. To turn it off just go to the Ubuntu menu and click on Switch Desktop Mode.

One thing that was a bit of a surprise was Firefox. If you are the type that uses shortcuts and menus, you won’t find Firefox, by name that is. Go to Applications -> Internet -> Web Browser. So maybe that isn’t such a big deal, but what about bloat and excess? Let me make this clear, I am picky when it comes to preloaded software and apps that lack sane defaults. Firefox comes with Yahoo! set as the homepage, upon opening Firefox for the first time, you get prompted to set your homepage to Yahoo! or leave as is. After getting rid of that, the next thing that you notice is that Firefox has its default search provider set to Yahoo!, a Yahoo! toolbar, and a Yahoo! menu across the top along with the usual File menus. Luckily they did include a remove option at the bottom of the Yahoo! menu.

Initial thoughts complete, more to come.


Dell Inspiron Mini 9 Quick Review: Windows XP

I promised a review of the Mini’s once I received them and I just haven’t had time to get it done. So here is a quick review of the Mini that shipped with Windows XP preloaded. My Mini / Linux preload review will be posted once Dell decides to fullfil their orders.

The unit was shipped in a box that is roughly the same dimensions as an adult sized shoe box although it is about half the height. The box weighs in right around 4 lbs and includes the netbook, AC adapter, limited paper documentation, and the restore CD’s.

Manufacturer: Dell
Model: Inspiron Mini 9
Color: Obsidian Black Gloss Finish
CPU: Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6GHz
RAM: 1GB DDR2 @ 533Mhz
Screen: 8.9″ Wide Screen WSVGA TL
Video: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
Audio: Realtek HD onboard
Hard Drive: 16GB Solid State Drive (mini-card Module/PATA)
OS: Windows XP Home Edition
WiFi: Broadcom 802.11g Mini Card
LAN: Realtek 10/100 Mbps
Cam: Integrated 1.3M Pixel Webcam
Ports: 3 USB, VGA out, single slot multi-card reader, mic, & headphone
Battery: 32WHr 4-cell
Weight: 2 lbs 5 ounces

The unit shipped with a fair amount of bloatware from Dell including MS Works. I removed all of the excess crap that the unit shipped with. The only add-ons have been Firefox, Office 2007 Enterprise, and ClamWin AV. The unit is just about as silent as it gets courtesy of the internal solid state disk.

Time Tests
All tests were performed with the unit running off of battery power.

Cold boot from power button to fully loaded Windows XP desktop including WiFi link:
Result: 41 seconds

Resume from hibernation:
Result: 19 seconds

Full shutdown time from power down to LED turning off:
Result: 34 seconds

Time to open Microsoft Word 2007:
Result: 1 second*

* Please note that I ran this test multiple times using an accurate stop watch and the results were between 1.0 seconds and 1.2 seconds.

I wanted to provide these numbers for those out there that are considering purchasing the unit and are looking for some real world numbers and scenarios.

I will create a second review once the Linux based system arrives and compare the results afterwards.


Dell Inspiron Mini 9 on the way! Part2

Update for anyone interested…

I ordered a Mini9 with XP for my wife, and a Mini9 Ubuntu for myself. Both were ordered around 8:00pm on the first day they were available for purchase. With the exception of OS both units are identical, 16GB SSD, 1.3 webcam, and 1GB of RAM. Within an hour I had my estimated shipping dates: Sep 19 for the XP and Oct 10th for the Ubuntu. The XP system shipped an entire day early on the 18th. As of October 11th my ship date had been changed from October 10th to November 7th. After calling Dell and politely working my way up the ranks of support and managers, I was told that the webcam / Ubuntu combo is causing the hold up. Apparently, and this is from the words of a Dell Support Manager, they haven’t gotten the webcam working yet. This was after being told that the OS wasn’t readily available….right… So they went on to explain that once they figure out how to get the webcam working in Linux, they will ship it. Props go to Dell for offering products that they claim work, exist, etc,…Taking my money…Not shipping a product… And not even sending an email to explain the hold up.

On top of everything else, I tried to get Dell to throw me something for my troubles. A T-shirt, Bluetooth upgrade, or even a stinking USB drive for being a patient customer / reseller. Yeah, they offered to cancel my order if I wanted… Nice.

Searching the web will yield various results as to the actual hold-up. The only piece of seemingly factual information that I was able to find suggested that the hold-up was due to a shortage of chassis plastic or some such.

Considering the numerous issues with shipping, partitioning, and manufacturing; things look pretty sloppy for Dell as far as I am concerned.

As of right now I have not canceled my order…yet.


Dell Inspiron Mini 9 on the way!

Yesterday Dell released the Inspiron Mini 9 which falls into the sub-notebook / mini-notebook category. It appears to be Dell’s first approach to make something similar to the EeePC. The unit has the option of being shipped with a stripped down version of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS or a stripped copy of Windows XP. The base price is currently at $350.00 for the 512MB / 4GB SSD model running Linux. Since I am always on the road and my signifigant other is a college student, we decided to purchase two of them on opening day. I ordered both units with 1GB of RAM, 16GB SSD (Solid State Hard Disk), and built in webcams. One of the systems was ordered with Windows XP while the other is coming with Ubuntu. I will give additional details and a review once the systems have been received.

A few quick things that I learned while ordering:

Apparently they will only sell the Windows unit with the upgraded 8GB hard because Windows XP and the bundled Microsoft Works & McAfee AV use up much of the drive. I have heard reports that even the 8GB drive is heavily consumed by the OS and additional software. This is one of the reasons I chose the 16GB drive in each machine.

The Windows based system with the 8GB drive apparently comes standard with the 0.3 megapixel camera. The same is not true with the Linux system.

For some unknown reason the Windows machine costs less to upgrade from the 8GB SSD to the 16GB than the same upgrade on the Linux box.

Perhaps they are feeling sorry for the people that order the system that comes with the preload bloat. XD