Here comes summer's first Linux netbook

Reports of the Linux netbook's death at the hands of Microsoft have been greatly exaggerated. A flood of Linux netbook news will be made next week at the Computex trade show in Taiwan, but, after Intel announced the beta of Moblin 2, HP has decided not to wait and made an important Linux netbook announcement this week.

HP announced that it was releasing a new netbook, the HP Mini 110, that runs Ubuntu Linux 8.04 with HP's easy to use Mi (Mobile internet) desktop interface. It will also be available with XP Home, but, for once, the Linux powered model looks to be the more compelling buy even if you don't care for Linux.

The new Mini will give you a choice between the N270 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU you find in almost every netbook on the market today, and the newer Intel Atom processor N280 that runs at 1.66-GHz. It also boasts a 10.1" LED anti-glare display. This screen may have the option of a Broadcom Crystal HD decoder, which HP says will optimize HD video in H.264, MPEG-4 and other formats. I say may because HP has confirmed that this will be an option on the XP model, but they're mum on whether this will be available for the Linux Mini.

Interestingly enough, otherwise, the Linux model has more and better options than the XP netbook. On the XP, your storage choices will be a 160GB hard drive or a 32GB SSD (solid state drive). For Linux, though, you also have the option of a 250GB hard drive. In addition, and this is important, on the XP system your only choice in memory is 1GB of RAM. If you go with Linux, though, you can have up to 2GBs.

Why? Because Microsoft won't let vendors run XP Home, or Windows 7,on netbooks with more than 1GB of RAM. This mistake is going to bite Microsoft in the rump. Even on a netbook, people want the power to upgrade their systems Linux gives people that ability. Microsoft doesn't. It's as simple as that.

The Mini 10 also comes with Syncables. This program enables you to sync your pick of your music, photos, videos, and documents with your main PC and up to four others. The program works with Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, so no matter what you run on your home PC, you'll be able to keep your important files with you without worrying with them.

I must also mention that the Mini 10 comes with a keyboard that's 92-percent of the size of ordinary keyboards. If you've wanted a netbook, but the usual netbook keyboard is just too darn small for you, you'll want to check out the Mini 110.

Both models will be available on June 10. The Linux-powered Mini 110's base cost will be only $279.99. The more limited XP model will start at $329.99. I know which one I'd be looking at even if I wasn't already a Linux desktop user.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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