The cheapest netbook

When I read this blog post telling that there are netbooks available from china for $65, where it is possible to install a proper linux distro, I knew I must have one. Yes, the specs are lowest end, but even more so is the price. It has a WonderMedia 8650 system on a chip. That’s an ARM CPU running at 800 MHz with 256MB RAM. These chips are normally used for low end tablets, and you see that with other things. The netbook has a 7 inch screen with 800*480 pixels and runs Android 2.2. So the device could be described as a tablet with a keyboard, touchpad, wifi, ethernet and three USB host ports, but no touchscreen, accelerometer, GPS, camera nor bluetooth.

From AliExpress, I ordered a device that seemed to be the same as mentioned in the blog. Continue reading “The cheapest netbook”

Screen went black

This morning, I had a short moment of horror when I turned on my Netbook. After the ubuntu splash screen, it went black and didn’t respond to any keys. The only response was for the power key, where it displayed the ubuntu splash screen again and shut down.

My Acer aspire one has the dreaded Intel gma500 poulsbo graphics card. This graphics chipset was bought by Intel, and it’s absymal driver support has embarassed them ever since. It is also the reason I still run maverick on the netbook. Knowing that, I was even more horrified by the screen turning black.

First thing was trying to boot an older kernel. In case you’re not presented with a grub menu, press shift after the BIOS.  Didn’t help, not even in recovery mode.

So I booted to a console, and examined

$cat /var/log/apt/history.log | tail

Start-Date: 2012-01-24  21:15:04
Commandline: apt-get install python-pyopencl
Install: nvidia-current:i386 (260.19.06-0ubuntu1, automatic), nvidia-settings:i386 (260.19.06-0ubuntu1, automatic), python-pyopencl:i386 (0.92~beta+git20100709-1ubuntu1), python-pytools:i386 (10-7, automatic), python-decorator:i386 (3.2.0-1, automatic)
End-Date: 2012-01-24  21:20:26

The only thing I installed yesterday was python-pyopencs as it was the only package in the repository that seemed like a starting point to experiment with OpenCL. It has dependencies to nvidia drivers, but I didn’t think that installing these would break my system.

So, all I had to do was “apt-get purge python-pyopencs nvidia-current nvidia-settings” and the system would boot again normally.

It’s amazing how a linux system that doesn’t boot can almost always be saved relatively easily. With a Windows system that has the same symptoms you’re fucked.