Dell mini-9

My new Dell Mini-9 just arrived, I quickly unwrapped it and booted it up. Obviously I picked the Ubuntu version (8.04 unfortunately), and I upgraded the memory to a full 1GB (the default configuration is only 512MB). System booted up pretty fast, and brings you through a quick setup "wizard". No problem so far, other than that the keyboard is really tiny for an adult male to type on. And various important characters are "hidden" on the keyboard, and the layout really isn't what I'm used to. But hopefully that'll get better with time. After all, I got this for it's tiny size.

After booting it up, I quickly enabled Wireless WiFi, and this mostly worked well. I had to change the wifi to use WPA Personal 2, and for some reason it wouldn't "remember" this. It took a few times via the Network administration UI to get it to keep this setting. I haven't played with the wifi outside of my home network yet, but hopefully it'll be equally easy to setup different profiles for other WiFi hotspots.

I also went through the Synaptic package manager quickly, uninstalled a few completely uninteresting packages (cleared up several hundred MBs getting rid of Chinese fonts, and Japanese input tools etc.), and I had to install a few missing important packages. In particular, the Mini-9 did not come with Emacs, wtf! There's plenty of space left on the SSD, well over 4GB is left. But of course, I've already ordered a 16MB SDHC card from Amazon, which should arrive on monday.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with this little gem. I bought it during one of the Dell sales, with Ubuntu and the 1GB RAM, it was around $260, which isn't a bad price at all. And the system is surprisingly snappy, and battery seems to last quite a while. Now, of course, I haven't tried to compile YTS on it yet :-).


Minime (i.e. the Dell Mini) had to go back to Dell, due to some issues. The suspicion is that the thermal sensor and/or the CPU thinks it's getting majorly overheated, so the CPU throttles itself. Many other people have reported this problem, and it shows up as major performance degradations (anything from 2x - 4x is possible). Since I got a second Mini-9 for Michelle, I quickly swapped her SSD with mine, and ran my installation (and benchmarks) on her HW (CPU + mobo) over and over again, and even though it gets hot, it never once dropped the performance (i.e. no throttling).

Dell is taking Minime back in for service, I really hope they can find something (because it's definitely broken, no question about that). If they don't, well, then clearly I can no longer recommend this HW. I would definitely benchmark my Mini-9, on the Geekbench benchmark I usually get over 900, I've seen as high as 940.