First day with Ideapad S10-2 3G under Linux

Update: After a day, Ideapad S10-2 stopped working on batteries and is now back for repair. Last week, I had presentation about Virtual LDAP, and during it I become painfully aware that my current Eee PC 701 is no longer sufficient as primary mobile machine (three seconds to change slide is just too much). To make my troubles worse, I own three Eee PCs, and X200 tablet, so why would I need another ultra-mobile PC?

Well, because it is ultra-mobile. Don't get me wrong, X200 is beautiful machine, but with 9 cell battery (and with that price) it's just not something which you will carry always in your bag. I also really liked 9" netbooks form-factor. I don't mind small keyboard, because I want to be able to type on it holding netboot between my hands vertically!

So, I went in search for laptop which will fullfil following requirements:

  • Have 1024 horizontal resolution which is really required for Web
  • Have integrated 3G modem, so I don't have to carry dongle with me around and bluetooth (I need to use GPS or transfer pictures from cellphone)
  • Have internal flash
  • It has to pass my shoulder test: I have to be able to carry it around with me without noticing. 900 g Eee PC 701 passes, 1450 g OLPC doesn't.

So, how did I end up with Ideapad S10-S? I looked at Asus Eee PC 1005HA, but deciding factor was really keyboard layout. Let me introduce best keyboard layout I ever saw on small keyboards: ideapad-s10-2-keyboard-cursors.jpg


I had to settle with 1024*600 vertical resolution, because it seems that this is only kind of 10" display available in Croatia within my price range. At least, it's a little better than 1024*540 that Ideapad S10 has... Built-in flash was also hard to find in netbook. There wasn't any.

Display is compromise: it's not as tall as your projected presentation (which will be 1024*768), so you won't see whole slide on your display, but other than that it's quite usable for web surfing and terminal usage. It's shiny, but I couldn't find any netbooks with non-glossy display. Bigger problem is maximum opening angle of display. I would love to be able to open it another 15 degrees or so. I'm not quite sure that there is structural reson for this limit, and 1005HA has exactly same angle, so it's conspiracy to force us into buying tablets which don't have this problem.

It's really shiny. So shiny in fact, that I had to use xgamma to get contrast high enough to be able to read Web pages with grayish text on them.

dpavlin@ipad:~$ xgamma -g 0.75,1
-> Red  1.000, Green  1.000, Blue  1.000
<- Red  0.750, Green  0.750, Blue  0.750

3G modem and bluetooth

Dongle is nice, integrated modem is even nicer. Ericsson F3507g has GPS built-in (think what this means for your privacy for a moment because it doesn't work without SIM card inserted, and GSM operators can inquire your position at any time without your knowledge).
Having said that 3G modem, GPS and bluetooth are available, so let's move on...

SSD storage

I made conscious decision that I want splash top built into my netbook. Not because it's really useful (it isn't really), but because I could re-install critical part of my extended system on it and really have *same* working configuration booting from flash. I don't have any idea about size of flash (I seem to remember reading that it's only 512Mb), and I don't have any access to it for now, so we count this one failure.

Shoulder test

I have only one day expirience, but It seems that 1220 g of Ideapad alone without power adapter passes. Battery lasted long enough for intense half-day usage (you know, new toy, click, click), so it will probably be OK for whole day without dragging power adapter everywhere.

I decided to install Ubuntu Netbook remix on it, to try out if I could recommend this to other netbook users. In it's current incarnation, I ended up with do-release-upgrade -d to get 2.6.32 kernel. I did try backports, and bcmwl-kernel-source before going to alpha version, in fact, I tried harder that most normal first-time users would to get wireless working under Linux.

Current development version of Ubuntu did enable wireless, but GUI launcher freezes sometimes, which makes it unusable at current moment for normal netbook users. But, next version of Ubuntu will work without a glitch on this netbook, and in my opinion is much better choice than Windows 7 on this machine. It will give users much more performance on same hardware. Yes, I tried Windows 7 which came with it, it took 15 seconds to open control panel and display 6 icons. Than I noticed it has a slowly moving progress bar on top, and I got used to seeing it often. I'm not impressed.

All in all, this netbook is great improvement if you need smallest possible machine which you can carry around with you.