Linux on the HP 2133 Mini-Note, Part 1

It is important to note that the following information is based on my trying various of the publicly available Linux distributions on my new HP 2133 netbook. I did NOT order it with the factory-installed SuSE Enterprise Linux, and I have not tried to obtain or install that version in any other way.

It is important to note that the following information is based on my trying various of the publicly available Linux distributions on my new HP 2133 netbook. I did NOT order it with the factory-installed SuSE Enterprise Linux, and I have not tried to obtain or install that version in any other way. Also, I have not made any extraordinary efforts to get any of these distributions to work on it, yet; all I have done is boot their LiveCD distribution, and if that comes up and is usable then I go ahead and try to install. Finally, because I have no intention of having a lot of different Linux distributions on this netbook over the long term, I have kept the disk partitioning very simple. When I "downgraded" from Vista to XP Professional, I put Windows in a 16 GB partition at the beginning of the disk; then I made three more primary partitions, one of them a small swap area and the other two for installing and testing Linux. The theory is that if/when I found one that worked, I could keep it intact while continuing to test others.

So here is what I have found out so far:

- SimplyMEPIS 8.0 RC2: The LiveCD booted just fine, the install was absolutely routine, the same as it was on my other two laptops, and it works really well. I can't even begin to put into words how pleased and impressed I am. This was the last of the distributions that I tried, and it worked by far the best. The VIA CPU, Chrome9 display adapter, Broadcom Gigabit wired network and Broadcom 802.11 a/b/g wireless network were all recognized and work just fine. WOW! The only thing that I have seen so far that isn't working properly is the sound, so I will be looking into that next.

- openSuSE 11.1: This was the first one that I tried, and it is the one I thought might work the best, because the 2133 is available with SuSE Enterprise preloaded. In fact it does work for the most part, but not as well as MEPIS. The LiveCD booted and installed, but I had to grapple with the screen resolution at first. I was finally able to get it going at 1024x768, but I haven't gotten any better than that yet, and at that resolution it's giving up one of the nicer advantages of the 2133 display. The Broadcom wireless adapter was also not configured by the initial installation. I found instructions on the Internet on how to download and install the driver, and that worked just fine. The one thing it does better than MEPIS is that the sound works perfectly. If I could get the screen resolution up to 1280x768, it would actually be a bit better than MEPIS overall, but it is nowhere near as easy to install and configure.

- Ubuntu 8.10: The LiveCD doesn't boot properly, the display is completely corrupted.

- Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 3: The LiveCD doesn't boot properly, but it actually gets a bit further along than Ubuntu 8.10, the wallpaper is displayed, but then the keyboard and mouse don't respond.

- Mandriva One 2009.0: The LiveCD doesn't boot properly, the display is blank.

- Fedora 10: The LiveCD doesn't boot properly, the display is corrupted in all sorts of random, colorful ways.

- PCLinuxOS 2009 Beta 2: The LiveCD doesn't boot properly, the display starts black, but slowly changes to being completely washed out.

- Debian 5.0 Beta: The LiveCD boots, but the screen resolution is completely wrong, only about one quarter of the top left area of the screen is displayed, and the keyboard and mouse do not respond.

- Vector Linux 6.0 RC3: The LiveCD boots and installs, but the screen resolution is only 1024x768. Worse, the Broadcom wireless adapter is not recognized, and I didn't find any obvious info on how to fix that.

So, there you have it. I'm likely to be using MEPIS for the time being, I'm very pleased with it and I don't care much about the sound - well, other than for watching Dialog Box, of course. It will be interesting to see if and when future releases of these distributions work on this netbook.

jw 27/1/2009

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