October 14th, 2008


Total MacGyver moment today

5 weeks ago I ordered a Dell Mini 9 netbook.  It's a tiny little laptop, only 9 inches wide.  It uses an Intel Atom processor, has no optical drive and uses a Solid State Drive (SSD) instead of a regular hard drive, so it has no moving parts.  It's available with Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux; I ordered the latter.

It finally arrived today, and it's really sweet.  It's soooo small.  The MacBook Air has nothing on this thing.  You can set two of them on top of a standard laptop.  It's totally silent; there's no CPU fan, no power supply fan and no hard drive.  The keys are smaller than usual and are a bit tricky to type on, and the small touchpad will take some getting used to, but otherwise, it's a really neat device.  The screen is small but very clear.

I ordered a 16 GB SSD with mine, but the schmucks at Dell only partitioned 3.5 Gigs worth.  They left the remainer totally unpartitioned and unusable.  I fired up GParted to see if there was anything I could do, but it wouldn't let me unmount the system drive while Ubuntu was running.

The system came with an Ubuntu DVD, but it doesn't have a DVD drive, and I didn't order an external drive, so I couldn't use the bootable Ubuntu DVD to repartition the drive.

The MacGyver moment:  I dug up an 8 year old 6x CD-RW drive with a missing faceplate, hooked it up to a spare power supply for juice, and then used an IDE to USB adaptor I had lying around to connect it to the Dell.  That wouldn't let me boot to the DVD, but fortunately I had a previous version of Ubuntu on CD-ROM so I booted to it, then used GParted to resize the partition.  I shut down, unhooked the frankenCD, and restarted the Dell.

Bingo!  I now have the full 16 Gigs of space available, minus Dell's utility partition, of course.