Linux was initially one of the main ingredients of the “netbook” successful recipe, consistently with its smart and low-cost concept.
In 2008, about 24% of netbooks were shipped with a Linux operating system. That percentage is expected to plunge to a poor 4% this year, according to the market research company IDC. One could imagine that a revolutionary new OS has entered the market and caused such a change! Completely wrong: the netbook market is currently led by the 8-years-old Windows XP.
Win XP is neither more complete nor faster than Linux, especially on these low-power devices.
The point is that users look for compatibility with the constantly growing number of electronic devices they own: mp3 players, portable hard drives, smartphones… and of course with a series of well-known software products they’re already used to…
I’m a loyal user of Linux Ubuntu, which I installed on a couple of computers including my Dell Mini (some tips about it here). But I’ve never felt indifferent to the issues described above: I wish I could have on my netbook at least iTunes, Slingbox Player and a full compatibility with every external memory. Anyway, I didn’t consider Win XP as an option.
Then I bumped into this article from Uneasy Silence, describing a simple method to install Apple OS X “Leopard” on the little guy. Of course I spent a few hours surfing the web about this, so I found out that different methods have been built and are very well explained by the smart guys at the Dell Mini forum. This post from Gizmodo has been an interesting reading too.
Well… I couldn’t resist from tryin’ it out. And it worked!
I’ve been testing this solution for a few days now. Needless to say, having some of the Apple incomparable experience on my netbook has been amazing. But on a deeper analysis I believe it’s just not worth it.
Let’s highlight three main reasons.
1) A netbook is primarily meant to surf the web. While Ubuntu’s Firefox lets me scroll every page just smoothly, by sliding the touchpad edge with my right finger, I couldn’t replicate the same behavior on Mac OS… nor, least of all, have the famous two-finger Mac experience: that’s not supported by Dell’s hardware.
2) Yes, I could successfully install Slingbox Player and iTunes on the hackintoshed Dell Mini. But the latter couldn’t manage my Win-formatted iPod Nano.
3) Ethernet was not recognized on Leopard, which wasn’t so bad at first, because the wi-fi connection worked perfectly instead. Then I went out for a week-end and I realized that this somehow prevented my HSPA dongle from working.
Therefore, I peacefully switched back to the latest Ubuntu Netbook Remix version.
Now I know that I would definitely buy a possible Apple Netbook. But I also learned why in Cupertino they’re so obsessed with selling the Mac OS coupled with their own hardware only: full control of the user experience, resulting in a cutting-edge product line.