Pondering a netbook - Jay Maynard

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Sunday, 4 January 2009


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1242 - Pondering a netbook

I've been pondering a low-end system for a while now to serve as a Hercules demonstrator. I need Linux, and the ability to compile software for the system; I also need a few gigabytes of free disk space to hold a couple of full mainframe OS disk images. I don't need a blazing fast processor, or a lot of screen space (since Hercules itself runs in a terminal, and so can the 3270 emulator needed to talk to the guest OS); a 24x80 terminal window is plenty.

I'd like a 7-inch EeePC, as that's the iconic netbook, but can I compile on, or for, it easily? For my purposes, being able to compile and run on an SD card is adequate (and might make life a little simpler, since I can use that to transfer a prebuilt mainframe disk image set from my desktop system). I know foolscap001 had issues with updates on a 4 GB box; are those surmountable with extra disk space? Can the RAM be increased (which would make life easier should I choose to run a mainframe OS that can make use of a couple of hundred megabytes of main memory)?

location: 56031
current mood: [mood icon] curious

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:sideband
Date: - 0000
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NetBSD (notice how much I LOVE this OS?) runs on it...

This is a little older, but some helpful info here: http://www.nabble.com/NetBSD-on-Asus%27s-EeePC-td13830076.html

Since it's BSD based, it should be easy to build your emulator for it...

There are Linux distros that will also run on it.. All are worth a look..

Maybe I should pick one up to play with? Yeah.. that'd be fun.. when I've got the free cash to do so...
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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There's a minor problem in that some Hercules features require Linux (or Windows); they're even crippled on OS X, which doesn't implement some network-related system calls.
[User Picture]
From:sideband
Date: - 0000
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Windows emulation on NetBSD is quite mature.. moreso than WINE is... though WINE will build on NetBSD and run well, as well.

If it doesn't work, Linux is always an option.
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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Hercules needs a very complete Win32, as it uses many features of the OS, including some added network drivers to allow the emulated mainframe to communicate with the Windows networking stack.
[User Picture]
From:sideband
Date: - 0000
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Hrm.. This is also interesting reading...
http://hackaday.com/2008/12/22/no-solder-eeepc-701-upgrades/
[User Picture]
From:sideband
Date: - 0000

Also....

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From:n5red
Date: - 0000
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Now you mention it! I would have been willing to loan you my Eee 701 when you were here in town. It already has 2GB of RAM in it. It has Ubuntu installed, but it wouldn't bother me to wipe it out.
[User Picture]
From:hauntedunix
Date: - 0000
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I've got an HP Mininote 2133, runs linux well, but awful battery life.

Also, it's got the c7 chipset, which is apparently a little.. unfavoured.
From:strredwolf
Date: - 0000
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[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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Actually, you're incorrect: the 900A is now $249 at Best Buy. I'm going to go pick one up in a little while. It's listed as an outlet item, however, so they probably won't be around much longer.

The SSD upgrade is now 32 GB for $69 from NewEgg, so I'll probably go that route.
From:strredwolf
Date: - 0000
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[User Picture]
From:yakko
Date: - 0000
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Actually, you're both a bit off. The 900A is now $199 at Best Buy!

I'm going to buy one today based on the musings in this post (wanted to make sure the SSD wasn't fixed, mostly).
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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It's a good machine. I think you'll be happy.
From:n5red
Date: - 0000
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My 4G has most certainly been updated to 2GB of RAM and it works quite well.

The 900 and 901 are slightly larger, I don't think one would fit in the portable DVD player case I use for my 701, but should fit very nicely in quite a number of others.
[User Picture]
From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
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Actually, when we got the Eee 900A at Best Buy, my wife found a portable DVD player case there to put it in. It's a close thing, but the Eee, its wall wart, and a short Ethernet cable do fit in it.
[User Picture]
From:megadog
Date: - 0000
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IMHO you'll get far better value/performance with a laptop. OK, if power-saving's your game stuff it with 4 or 8Gigs of RAM so you can shut down the hard-drive for most of the time - but at least with a laptop you're getting upgradeability of hard-drive/memory using commodity parts and a proper keyboard/clitmouse/trackpad/screen rather than the proprietary, feature-crippled and cramped nonsense of most netbooks.
[User Picture]
From:jmaynard
Date: - 0000
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I've got laptops. This is more intended to show how little machine Hercules needs to run a mainframe OS pretty well.
[User Picture]
From:foolscap001
Date: - 0000
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The Eee 900A I have can use 2 GB of RAM... since a 2 GB stick apparently goes for twenty-something bucks, I will definitely be upgrading.

I'm hovering about 700 MB free on the 4GB SSD after a couple of upgrades of Ubuntu Eee 8.04. I am liable to move to a larger SSD as well; as others have mentioned, a 32 GB SSD isn't all that expensive.

Side note: on the way back from Oklahoma after Christmas, we stopped at a motel in Emporia KS rather than drive through ice and snow (that fortunately had all disappeared by the next day). The motel had free wi-fi, and on the Thanksgiving trip down, I'd done quite well with Billie's purple Dell Inspiron laptop... but on this trip back, I guess we were at some place with a borderline signal. The Dell laptop only connected once out of maybe a dozen tries, and then only for perhaps a couple of minutes--but the Eee quickly and reliably connected with no hassle.
[User Picture]
From:ddelony
Date: - 0000
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If I were you, I'd just wait and see what was announced at Macworld! ;-)

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