I spent much of today reading how to Mac-ify a Dell Mini 9. It seems to be a popular hobby. In a later post I’ll go through the technical how-to with a lot of links.
I have ordered a Mini 9 in its Vostro A90 livery, on special offer from Dell at £199 (£221 with VAT & shipping). I also ordered OSX10.5.6 shrink-wrapped operating system (£76). A 32GB Run Core ssd will replace the 8GB one which comes as stock. 4 screws to swap the drive; add another £121. All in: £418. Remember when 512K of RAM cost £500? I suspect these are going to be available with 250GB for under £100 in a year.
So why am I doing this?
Well a MacBook Air is about £1,800 before you put any software on it – and it’s too big.
Further to my earlier post about an ideal PDA (http://rworld2.brookesblogs.net/2009/03/07/my-ideal-pda-wish-list-is-what-i-want-a-netbook/), and, after seeing a Dell Mini 9 at one of the local shops (£376 with the 8GB drive), I have decided that a Filofax-sized machine might be about right. I have been lugging a series of PowerBooks and MacBook Pros around. Great machines: solid, powerful, easy to use, but not really what you want to slip into a rucksack or shoulder bag. I write, lots, and I am getting really cack-handed with a pen. I have decided that all I really want when I travel is: email, the web and my diary. Admittedly I could have had that with the stock Wintel Dell.
The hobbyist in me enjoys getting under the bonnet. The social critic in me doesn’t like any close coupling between proprietary technologies and consumer markets.
I used to like MS DOS (and CPM before that) because I felt I had a handle on how the thing worked. The relatively open architecture of the IBM PC meant you could take bits out and put bits in and tweak the OS to do what you wanted. The Macintosh was all cute and easy but it was a black box: proprietary hardware and software. But, as Windows grew to become the bloated tool of a bloated business ethos and ever harder to hack, Apple took a turn towards Linux under the GUI. The ease of use, elegant design and the fact that things just worked won me over. I have come to like the Mac OS. But, with the iPod and iPhone, MobileMe and iTunes Apple has become annoying, again.
This conversion kind of cocks a snook at both Apple and Microsoft.
The real problem is what will be my reference machine. Synchronisation is a pain. One reason to lug a laptop is because I work across three campuses, at home and am often on the road. The big Mac laptops bring everything with you. I can work all day on the MacBook Pro keyboard and the screen is big and bright. Where will I leave it? In the office? I can see me carrying the MacBook AND the netbook at all times. That’ll be silly. But that’d be me.