More on the Mini

I mentioned that I didn’t like the keyboard on my mini, and it turns out a lot of mini-9 owners share that feeling. I was looking around on the forums at last night and found out about a different keyboard you can order from Dell for fifteen bucks. Apparently by shrinking the spacebar and backspace keys by a fair bit, and slightly narrowing the others, they’ve gotten a much more normal arrangement. I tried to order it, but apparently it’s out of stock; they’re going to email me when it gets back in.

I did find out about another deal, though; they were selling 2GB memory modules for thirty bucks. Oddly enough, had I ordered my mini originally with 2GB, it would have added $50 to the price, so I grabbed the chance. I want to run Windows XP in a virtual machine on the thing, and that takes a fair chunk of RAM.

Wait, you may say, aren’t you running Windows already? Nope, though you can get the Dell Minis with Windows, it’s more expensive that way. To get the best price you need to get them with Ubuntu Linux. In case you’re not really up on the computer world, Linux is a free operating system (well, technically a group of free operating systems) very similar to Unix, which has been around since the 1970s and is still used on a lot of servers, including many here at WOU.

Linux has been around since the 1990s, but until fairly recently, you had to be a serious computer geek to get much use out of it. The Ubuntu project is one of several efforts to change that, and it’s been very successful, combining the many open-source programs and systems to build a variant of Linux that’s probably the easiest ever for non-geeks to get into.

It’s so easy that when I decided I didn’t like the somewhat idiot-proofed version of Ubuntu that came with my Mini, I was able to completely wipe and reinstall it with version 9.04, the latest and greatest, in just a couple of hours. I’m liking 9.04 (AKA “Jaunty Jackalope” in Ubuntu’s naming scheme) a lot better than the version I started with, and I only had to fix one little problem for it to work perfectly on my Mini. There are a bunch of very useful instructions available at so I didn’t have to spend hours hunting around for obscure snippets of information as I did when I tried installing other versions of Linux on other machines in the past.

Anyway, back to work. After a slow few months, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting some programming mojo back, and that feels pretty good. Hopefully things keep looking up, because I’m behind on some stuff that really needs to be finished soon.

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