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2008 June | HP Mini Note PC Blog

Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Virtual Desktops for your HP mini-note running Windows XP

Over the next few weeks, I’ll highlight some of the best free software that is available for the HP mini-note, running Windows XP. Today, I’m recommending you take a look at a cool Open Source virtual windows manager.

We all know that the HP2133 mini-note has a great display. The 8.9 inch high resolution (1280 x 768) screen is perfect for viewing a single document, watching a movie or browsing the web, but since moving to Windows XP I miss the advanced virtual desktop software that comes with many of the Linux distributions, like Ubuntu. Recently to plug this functional gap, I installed an Open Source Virtual Windows Manager, called VirtuaWin. I’ve been running it on my mini-note now for a few weeks without problems. Now I can easily switch between web browsing, itunes, document editing and editing my blog with a single keypress. No more fussing around with minimizing & maximizing different windows etc. The software is initially configured for 4 virtual desktops, with simple navigation keys (which can be easily redefined) and has additional modules that you can use to add functionality. I kept the default number of desktops and modified some of the navigation keys. I’ve been using v4.0.1 which seems very stable.

You can download the software or read more about it at SourceForge.net (the home of all things Open Source).

Configuring virtuawin virtual desktop

Configuring VirtuaWin on the HP mini-note

A new, improved HP2133 Mini-note

After successfully upgrading my first HP Mini-note to 2GB of memory with a 120GB hard drive, I decided that when I upgraded my second machine I would use the largest (reasonably priced) capacity hard drive available.

So, for my second system upgrade I selected a WD Scorpio 320GB SATA drive ($129.99) and a 2GB memory stick (KVR667D2S0/2GR) from Kingston ($40.99). To reduce the setup time of the new machine, I also created an image of the hard drive from my first mini-note installation using Acronis True Image and restored the image to the new hard drive.

Unfortunately the process of creating and restoring the hard drive image was not as straight forward as I expected, and I was unable to restore the drive image back to the new hard drive directly in the second mini-note, due to the Acronis boot loader causing the mini-note to hang. It’s certainly possible that Acronis has resolved this issue with later versions of their software (I was running v8, and their latest version is v11).

Instead, I restored the image to the second drive by using a hardware device that enables you to plug any hard drive in to your USB port (these devices are called SATA to USB hard drive adapters). The mini-note recognized the hard drive without a problem through the USB hardware device and I simply restored the image from my 120GB drive to the 320GB drive and dropped the drive in to my second mini-note. To complete the process, I formatted the unused space on the 320GB drive.

Presto, my second mini-note was upgraded to a 320GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM, running Windows XP SP2 (Home Edition) with all my applications already loaded and installed. Total installation time for upgrading the RAM, replacing the SSD drive, system image creation and restoration was about 90 minutes.

In building out this second mini-note, it appears that the wireless card in my first machine is actually faulty. I now need to figure out how I can get it exchanged after making so many system modifications.

Here’s links to the parts and products I used from the modder’s good friend, NewEgg.com:

Hard Drive

Memory

SATA to USB hard drive adapter

Acronis True Image

Mini USB Game pad enhances the Mini note gaming experience

If your a HP2133 mini note gamer, you might want to consider picking up a mini usb Game pad. I found this gamepad at my local Walmart and was very impressed with the size, sturdiness and general build quality. At $11 and requiring no drivers to work with your mini note (Windows XP), I think it was a real bargain. You can also find them on ebay.

USB Gamepad in use with MAME

Gamemon USB Game pad in action with the HP2133 mini note

usb gamepad comparison with HP2133 mini note

Gamemon USB Game pad is slightly thicker than the mini note

Gamemon USB Gamepad

The Gamemon USB Game pad has a retractable USB cable (ideal for traveling)

usb game pad size comparison with HP2133 mini note

A quick size comparison of the Gamemon USB Game pad with the mini note

gamemon usb game pad boxed

The Gamemon USB Game pad in the retail packaging (from Walmart)