Vista on the Dell Mini 9: Redux

I’ve been chipping away at this for a while now today, and I’ve learned a few things on the way:

  • When Vista says it suggests installing the battery drivers for the system, don’t. The zip file it suggested I install broke power management.
  • Patch the system fully as an admin user before logging in as a restricted user. It will save you hours of time.
  • Sysinternals Diskmon doesn’t work with Vista – you need to run it as admin, and that certainly isn’t an option for my restricted users.
  • Vista when hibernating just shows a black screen. That’s not very helpful the first time you try it, on a silent machine with no disk activity lights at all.
  • think Vista takes longer to hibernate and come back from hibernation than XP, although coming back from sleep is much quicker than it’s older sibling.

Overall, I’m still happy. I have Vista, Office 2007 and Live Writer and 3.5Gb of disk space free. With no serious hacking the Dell runs at around 50% memory usage witrh a browser and live writer running. I can live with that. Battery life appears OK. It’s 10:30 and I’ve been using the Dell since 8pm, thrashing the disk (as much as there is one) and the wi-fi, and I’m at 38% battery. That puts me on track for about four hours or so and I can live with that.

Ironically, having been using the Aspire One all weekend, the Dell keyboard is more annoying than I found it before I got the Acer. Comparing the two, however the Dell is a good inch narrower and a little lighter. If portability is critical then the Dell has the edge, although I’m starting to favour the Acer for ergonomics.

Top tips, then:

  • Try to use slipstream media – it saves a bit of tidying up.
  • Turn off system restore to save a bit of disk space initially and quite a bit in the longer term.
  • Keep the cruft at a minimum – additional windows components take up disk space, but shoving lots of apps on gobbles memory, which is quite tight with 1Gb of memory.
  • I tried to install from a USB memory stick with Vista installation media on it and it didn’t work – a USB optical drive is the easiest way.
  • Make sure you copy the drivers folder off the Min 9 before wiping the disk for Vista – you’ll need the drivers folder to install the appropriate system drivers before Windows can work it’s Update magic.
  • The 16Gb SSD isn’t that big when you try installing Vista and Office. I’ve not reduced Vista’s footprint with tools like vlite, but they might help. Certainly, being hard on yourself is important – do you really need Microsoft Access on a netbook?

The next step is to run the new Mini 9 with Vista in parallel with the XP Pro install on Richard’s and see which is the better long-term bet. Watch this space…

2 Replies to “Vista on the Dell Mini 9: Redux”

  1. Tim, I haven’t had to mess around with the video driver – Vista updated it to the appropriate Intel driver all by itself once I’d run through a full set of windows updates. The only bit that gave me some grief was the Smart Battery – I installed Vista and used the one suggested by the fault assistant, and it hosed the pwer management completely. One rebuild later, and I have used the driver contained in the R192569 archive on the Dell CD. For the most part, the drivers folder I copied off the system prior to nuking it has contained everything I needed. Anything else has come via Windows Update, pretty much. Have you run Windows Update yet? It might just be that you ned to complete a few cycles to let the system get fully patched.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *