MSI U100-422CA and OpenSolaris B106
By David Clack on Jan 28, 2009
So the MSI netbook is the U100-422CA version, J&R is selling it for $369.99.
On the first power on, the system asks you what language you want for the Windows XP Home installation, English, English UK, French or German.
This is due to the keyboard on the netbook having all the different language symbols already printed on the keys, if you tend to look at the keys when you type like I do (when I started in the computer business we had punch cards) the number of symbols on each key is a bit confusing.
Once the Windows XP Home setup is complete you end up with three partitions on the hard drive, a 4Gb recovery (1), Windows XP 40Gb (2) and empty D drive (100Gb).
I'm assuming if you actually don't want to keep the Windows XP or recovery partition the B106 installer will work correctly at the fdisk command.
As I wanted to keep the Windows XP Home install, fdisk gets really mad at the partitioning layout and says there are overlapping partitions and refuses to move forward in the install.
I ended up taking the recovery and D partitions of the disk using Partition Magic in DOS floppy mode and moving the Windows partition to the front of the disk, the installer still has a bird.
I ended up doing a SXDE B95 install first to create the ZFS partition using an option 4 install, the FDISK in B95 does not have the problem with the partitioning. It does have a problem with the keyboard however so I had to plug in an external USB keyboard to do the install. B106 does not have an issue with the built in keyboard.
Once it was done I reinstalled using B106, now the fdisk see's the ZFS partition and is happy.
So it looks like you can get one of three different wifi cards on this netbook:
AR5B91 (AzureWave AW-NE771) – Atheros 802.11BGN solution
RT2700E (MS-6890) – Ralink 802.11BGN solution
RTL8187SE (MS-6894) – Realtek 802.11BG solution
You cannot order the one you want, I ended up with the RALink
The current RAL driver just dies on this wifi, I cannot ask the WiFi developer group in China if we have a later driver for the RAL as they are on the two week Chinese New Year break.
Anyway I popped the back of the MSI, installed an extra 1Gb memory and exchanged the RAL for an Atheros I had.
The MSI also has a BlueTooth adapter I have not tested yet.
So what works:
1. The Intel video comes up in 1024x600
2. The speaker sound works and the head phone sound plug works
3. CPU frequency is working but you cannot set it in the gnome power manager
4. Screen brightness is working of the Fn + F5 / F6
5. Realtek ethernet is working
6. Suspend / resume works
7. Built in mouse works, but stops after a suspend / resume
8. SD/MSPro is on the usb, so both SD and MSPro work
9. Even though the wifi on/off button is working, I can still scan the wifi, this is probably becuase I swapped out the wifi card
So this is a tough choice, Acer One vs MSI, about the same $$:
1. Same processor - Intel Atom 1.6Ghz
2. Same Memory Standard - 1Gb, but you can upgrade the MSI to 2Gb very easily
3. 8.9 inch vs 10 inch screen
4. Bigger keyboard on MSI, though not much
5. Acer always comes with Atheros WiFi
6. Suspend / Resume works on Acer (I need to find out why MSI mouse does not come back after resume, though the MSI has B106 and the Acer B104)
7. 6 cell battery on each
I'm going to have to work with the two netbooks for a little while to see which one I prefer.
I like the bigger screen on the MSI and the MSPro slot (my camera uses MSPro), I have to use an external usb adapter on the Acer.
I like how small the Acer is, especially for plane rides.
So we have at least 2 netbooks that work really well with OpenSolaris