This here is the Samsung NB30, a semi-ruggedized netbook with one of those new Pine Trail Atom processors. I bought one over the weekend as a cat-proof alternative to my aging Eee PC. I like it so far, but there’s one big problem — I can’t get the WiFi radio to work with my favourite Linux distributions.
Actually it’s a bit more complicated than that. Staples, the chain store I bought it from, is giving me 10 days to return it, no questions asked. This is very cool, except that this particular netbook doesn’t come with any optical media, so once I wipe the hard drive and put Linux on it it’s mine forever. And I’d rather not pay Samsung for a Windows restore disc, for reasons that should be fairly obvious. It would probably take more than 10 days to be shipped to me, anyway.
Which begs the question: What’s the most Linux-friendly netbook out there right now?
For reasons of cost I’d rather stick to commodity hardware than go with a custom vendor like ZaReason or system76. I’ve actually got a couple of netbooks I’d like to run by you, and if you’ve a better idea you’ll let me know in the comments. Please?
In its least expensive configuration it’s $100 CAD more than my Samsung; still, I really like the Lenovo x100e — not just because Cory Doctorow has one, but it doesn’t hurt [swoon]. I’ve tried one out in a store and the keyboard is fantastic, but it does seem like I’m paying a premium for the ThinkPad name. And according to at least one source there are WiFi issues with this netbook as well.
I don’t want to say that Dell is ubiquitous, but their new mini does seem to be supported by a lot of distros — it’s one of the models that MeeGo officially supports. No less than Adam McDaniel of Jolicloud recommended it to me earlier this year.
It’s got some other things going for it as well: It’s cheap, has all the specs I need and is one of the few netbooks that ships with a one-piece “wall-wart” power plug instead of a two-piece cord and brick.
But unlike you lucky netbook users in the USA (and beyond?), Linux is not available as a pre-installed option for Canadians. Hell, Dell.ca won’t even load properly in Firefox half the time I’ve gone there.
So I’ve got 10 7 days to find myself a netbook with a Linux-friendly WiFi radio and island-style/chiclet keyboard. Can you help?