The Dell Mini 10v is nothing special from a hardware perspective for a Netbook, and follows along the specs of most other Netbook models on the market today. The integrated buttons in the track-pad take some time getting used to, and IMHO separate buttons are more user friendly. For my recently acquired new toy I increased the RAM to 2 GB and added the larger battery. On the software side the Dell Mini 10v is something special as it is one of few Netbooks available with Linux pre-installed. Other Netbook brands either have no Linux option or charge extra when straying of the beaten hardware and OS combination path, at what I consider to be outrages rates. While as a devoted SUSE user I’d rather see openSUSE than Ubuntu pre-installed getting Linux on the machine and not having any of my hard earned money diverted to the monopolist from Redmond was a key purchasing decision.
Once unpacked and the battery charged I played with the Ubuntu distribution pre-installed by Dell for a while. Network configuration was easy enough and I could probably get used to the Desktop interface if I used it for a while. Next up was Moblin, more out of curiosity than for “serious” evaluation purposes. Having read some concerns about openSUSE 11.2 on Netbooks in some mailing list thread or review I decided to give it a try, knowing that I might be in for an unpleasant surprise. At the same time I was setting up the machine a thread about the Broadcom wireless card used in the Dell Mini appeared on the openSUSE mailing list,very timely indeed. As it turns out my concerns were unfounded.
I downloaded the GNOME Live CD from http://www.opensuse.org/en/, then used the information provided on the openSUSE wiki (http://en.opensuse.org/Live_USB_stick) to create a USB live image. After fiddling with the BIOS setting to boot from USB media first I was able to run the openSUSE 11.2 live image and the installer from the stick. Once openSUSE 11.2 was installed I configured the Ethernet card to get network access. Empowered with access to the Internet I added the packman repository
# zypper ar http://ftp.skynet.be/pub/packman/suse/11.2/ Packman
This can also be done through YaST for those more comfortable with GUI tools.
Next step was to refresh the repository data
# zypper refresh
and then to install the Broadcom firmware package and kernel driver
# zypper in broadcom-wl broadcom-wl-kmp-default
last but not least I loaded the module into the kernel
# modprobe wl
and now the Broadcom wireless card showed up when using the ifconfig command as eth1. I used the NetworkManager applet to configure the network connecting to my wireless AP and everything works just fine.
In summary, all is well with openSUSE 11.2 on the Dell Mini 10v including the 3D desktop with compiz.
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