When the ThinkPad X40 first came out, 5 or 6 years ago, I had much lust in my heart. I wanted one so badly but it was just priced out of my reach. A 12” screen and weighing in around 3 lbs. made it seem to be the ultimate portable rig – the keyboard is quite wonderful too.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to grab one on a “trial basis” (I’m quite sure I’ll be purchasing it) and quickly snapped it up. It was running XP Pro well enough but after I did some updating I ran into a series of BSOD issues. Since I have recently been using Ubuntu Netbook Edition I decided that would be a great OS for this little rig.
Installing it, however, gave me some difficulties.
First I tried booting from the USB stick that I had used when I installed Ubuntu Netbook on my Eee. The X40 just wouldn’t do it. After some research I found some anecdotal notes that seem to indicate that the X40 has issues booting from large USB sticks. Unfortunately, I don’t have any 512 MB sticks laying around to test with – and I don’t think the Netbook Edition install would fit on one.
Fortunately, the unit I have came with the UltraBase dock so I was able to try a CD install. I grabbed the image from the Ubuntu downloads page (scroll down to the Netbook Live CD). The boot process would start OK but then the screen would go black. A quick search turned up a blog post that pointed me to a Bugs page with details about the issue and work-arounds. “Workaround A” worked for me, both to boot from the Live CD but also to permanently resolve the issue once I had it installed.
With the video issue solved, I’m pleased to say that Ubuntu Netbook Edition runs great on this little box. All the more impressive as it currently has just 768 MB of RAM – something I hope to address later today once I dig through the old box ‘o ram in the garage…
Battery life is good. With the included extended battery we seem to be headed for the 4 – 5 hour range.
The wife acceptance factor is huge. She loves the idea of having a little and light portable to float around the house with. This morning I found her curled up on the couch with it running through email and Facebook. Later I found it on the kitchen island with some recipes up as she was preparing for this afternoon’s festivities. The12” panel is small but not too small and the native 1024×768 resolution works well for the majority of the main stream web sites we use.
I think I’ll hold off on buying a netbook for home now
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