Friday, November 28, 2008

Upgrading Your Mini 9's RAM Guide

It's no secret that the Dell Mini 9's maximum RAM size is 2GB. Dell purposely configured the Mini with a maximum of 1GB of RAM so that they could ship it with Windows XP.

In order for an OEM to buy a Windows XP license from Microsoft, their computer's specifications have to be below a predetermined minimum. If the Mini shipped with 2GB of RAM it would have been above the minimum and customers would be forced to buy Vista.

I can understand how this is beneficial to Windows users. I would prefer to run Windows XP over Vista on my Mini. Windows XP runs faster, takes up much less disc space, and is more memory and power efficient.

This memory limit doesn't make sense for Linux Users. We were only offered an upgrade to a maximum of 1GB so the Windows users could get their Mini's with XP. I'm not angry because it is an easy upgrade that anyone can do. It's also much cheaper for you to upgrade the RAM yourself.

WARNING: For users still running Dell's custom Mini OS based on Ubuntu 8.04, Dell modified the kernel and limited the maximum amount of RAM that Mini OS will see/use. If you want to upgrade your RAM over 1GB you will have to recompile your kernel or install a non-Dell version of Ubuntu. You can download Ubuntu here and use Ubuntu Mini's install guides to help you get everything up and running.

1. What You'll Need
1- Unplug your Mini 9
2- Phillips Head Screw Driver
3- Groundind/Static Bracelet
4- 200pin DDR2800 (PC6400) RAM
5- Remember to read the instructions first.

2. Remove The Battery
Slide the battery locks outward and pull the battery out.
You do not want electrical current running through your Mini while upgrading.

3. Unscrew and Remove the Back Plate
Remove the two philips head (crosshead) screws highlighted in the red boxes.

4. Remove The Old RAM
Gently push the silver headed white tabs on the side of the RAM DIMM outward to release the RAM. This should cause it to slightly angle outward.

Gently pull the RAM out from the DIMM slot. It should release easily.

5. Install the New RAM
Line up the notch on the RAM to the notch in the DIMM slot (where is says REV).
Push the RAM into place at a 15 degree angle.
Once RAM is correctly aligned and fully inserted gently press down to lock it into place.


6. Replace The Back Cover & Screws

7. Check Your RAM
In a termianal type:
head /proc/meminfo
Screenshot-red@red-mini: ~

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stop Compiz-Fusion From Loading Automatically

You do not want to run Compiz and Netbook Remix at the same time.

Compiz is the default window manager when you install Ubuntu. This guide will show you how to stop Compiz-Fusion from loading automatically on startup and make Metacity your default window manager.

Step 1: Run gconf-edit
Start Run Application by pressing Alt+F2

Screenshot-Run Application

Enter gconf-editor into the box, hit enter

Step 2: Set Metacity as your default start up window manager
Once in gconf-editor navigate to desktop>gnome>applications>window_manager
Screenshot-Configuration Editor - window_manager

under default replace:
/usr/bin/compiz with /usr/bin/metacity

it should like this when you're done:
Screenshot-Configuration Editor - window_manager
*If you see /usr/bin/metacity after you navigate gconf-editor, don't worry. Compiz wasn't loading automatically and you don't have to do anything else.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Customizing Firefox for Netbooks

To access Firefox's Configuration File
Type about:config into the URL address bar
Screenshot-about:config - Mozilla Firefox
The red lines highlight the url box.
The blue lines highlight the filter box.
The filter box allows you to search your about:config file and is where you type the blue text commands.

Make Firefox Run Faster:
Enable Pipelining
Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining, it will make several attempts at once, which really speeds up page loading. It's not very nice to slam websites with multiple requests. Be a good person and limit yourself to a reasonable number.
Set network.http.pipelining to true
Set network.http.proxy.pipelining to true
Set network.http.pipelining.maxrequests to 15
Right-click anywhere inside Firefox and select New-> Integer
Name it nglayout.initialpaint.delay and set its value to 0 (zero)

Stop Firefox from Loading Pages in the Background
Firefox downloads webpages from links it thinks you may click. This may make the experience seem faster but really it just bogs down Firefox and your netbook.
Set network.prefetch-next to false

Customize Backspace Button
The Ubuntu default is set to scroll up when the backspace button is pressed.
I prefer for it to go back in my page history.
Set browser.backspace_action to either 0 or 1
0 - Pressing backspace button will go back a page in the session history
1 - Pressing backspace button will scroll up a page in the current document and
[Shift]+[Backspace] will scroll down.

Enable Auto Scrolling & Smooth Scrolling
Go to Edit->Preferences and click Advanced.
Check the auto scrolling and smooth scrolling boxes to enable the middle click/touch pad to scroll smoothly left, right, up and down web pages.
Screenshot-Firefox Preferences

Free Up Screen Space:
Use Small Icons
Right click an empty space on the Menubar , Navigational Toolbar or Bookmark Toolbar and select Customize. Check the Use Small Icons box.
Screenshot-Customize Toolbar

Remove the the Bookmark Toolbar
Right click an empty space on the Menubar , Navigational Toolbar or Bookmark Toolbar and uncheck the the Bookmark Toolbar box.
Screenshot-Ubuntu on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9: Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex on the Dell Mini 9 - Mozilla Firefox

Remap the Fullscreen Shortcut
If your netbook shipped without an F11 key, like my Dell Mini 9, use this guide to remap maximize to another key.

More screen saving tips can be found in the plugins section below

My Favorite Firefox Plugins for Netbooks:
Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer
If you use Firefox on more than one computer, you'll want Foxmarks. Install Foxmarks on each computer, and it will work silently in the background to keep your bookmarks synchronized. You can also log in to to manage your bookmarks from any computer.

Compact Menu 2
Compact Menu 2 allows you to remove Firefox's Menubar and turn it into a drop down toolbar button. Another great plugin that allows you to save screen space.
My install guide can be found here.

Hide Tab Bar
Enables you to hide the tab bar. Another way to keep your screen clear of clutter.

Adblock Plus
Once installed, it's a snap to filter elements at their source-address.
Just right-click: Adblock. Filters use either the wildcard character or full Regular Expression syntax. Hit the status-element and see what has or hasn't been blocked. This plugin is important because loading ads slows down your netbook and takes up screen space.

Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper
This is a companion extension to Adblock or Adblock Plus and should be used in conjunction with it. This extension automatically downloads the latest version of Filterset.G every 4-7 days. Filterset.G is an excellent set of filters maintained by G for Adblock that blocks most ads on the internet. In addition, this extension allows you to define your own set of filters that you can add along with Filterset.G during an update. To report missed ads or problems with the extension visit the support forums

Flash Block
Flashblock is an extension for the Mozilla, Firefox, and Netscape browsers that takes a pessimistic approach to dealing with Macromedia Flash content on a webpage and blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves place-holders on the webpage that allow you to click to download and then view the Flash content. This one is key, I don't want flash objects loading and making noise when I'm mobile/in a meeting. Flashblock speeds up Firefox by not downloading videos you don't plan on watching.

Winner of the "2006 PC World World Class Award", this tool provides extra protection to your Firefox. It allows JavaScript, Java and other executable content to run only from trusted domains of your choice, e.g. your home-banking web site, guarding your "trust boundaries" against cross-site scripting attacks (XSS) and Clickjacking attempts, thanks to its unique ClearClick technology. Such a preemptive approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of functionality. I really love the speed increase this gives me.

Mouse Gestures Redox
Allows you to execute common commands (like page forward/backward, close tab, new tab) by mouse gestures drawn over the current webpage, without reaching for the toolbar or the keyboard.

Allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript. Hundreds of scripts, for a wide variety of popular sites, are already available at You can write your own scripts, too. Check out to get started. This extension does some amazing things, check out for more at

Undo Closed Tabs Button
Tired of going to History -> Recently Closed Tabs just to undo a closed tab? Then this extension is for you! This extension allows you to undo closed tabs via a toolbar and/or tab bar button or the right-click context menu.

Custom Download Manager
This addon allows you to personalize your download manager. Now, you can open the download manager on a new tab or on the sidebar. You don't need a popup download manager cluttering your screen.

Tabs Open Relative
Tabs Open Relative makes all new tabs open to the right of the current tab, rather than at the far right of the tab bar. I don't know how I used tabs before this plugin came along.

Open Image In New Tab
Adds right-click context menu item for opening images in new tabs.

Context Search
Expands the context menu's 'Search for' item into a list of installed search engines. Hold Ctrl or middle-click to open results in a new tab, Shift to open a new window.

LittleFox, designed for optimal screen usage, leaving lots of room for browsing. For Firefox 2.0 and 3.0. Includes support for Personas, Forecastfox, Tabbrowser Preferences, Fusion, ReloadEvery, Stumbleupon, Gmail, Basics, Calendar, and many more. I don't use it. LittleFox does do a lot of the screen saving tweaks without having to do any of the work. Perfect for lazy readers.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Remap Firefox's Fullscreen Shortcut

The Dell Mini 9 ships without an F11 key, so using F11 to maximize Firefox is impossible.
But we can remap maximize to another key.
First download the keyconfig for Firefox 3 plugin. Firefox will prevent the plugin from installing, allow it to install.
Screenshot-Index of - - Mozilla Firefox
Screenshot-Software Installation

Restart Firefox and then go to Tools>Keyconfig
Screenshot-Ubuntu on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 - Mozilla Firefox

This will bring up the Keyconfig menu.
From here you can scroll down to the Full Screen [View] shortcut and remap to whatever key you want.

I disabled Help Contents [Help] (I never have and probably never will use it) and remapped Full Screen to F1.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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How to Hide Firefox's Menubar

Take back your screen's real estate with this simple FireFox extension. Compact Menu 2 allows you to remove FireFox's Menubar and turn it into a drop down toolbar button.

Before Removing the Menubar

Once you Install Compact Menu 2 allow Firefox to restart.
Screenshot-Ubuntu on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 - Mozilla Firefox
Now right click a blank area in Firefox's Menubar, Navigational Toolbar or Bookmark Toolbar.
Unselect Menubar to remove Firefox's Menubar.

Once the Menubar has been removed, right click a blank area in the Navigational Toolbar or Bookmark Toolbar and select Customize.
Screenshot-Customize Toolbar
Place the Menu drop down toolbar button on the Navigational Bar.

After Removing the Menubar
(with the menu toolbar button expanded)

With the Dell Mini 9's limited screen resolution, it is important to maximize every pixel of screen space. By using Netbook Remix's Maximus and Compact Menu 2, I can remove all unnecessary parts from FireFox and do more faster.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

We've Got a Google Group

Google Groups is a service that allows people to have discussions about common interests, either through the Google Groups web interface, or by e-mail. Think of it as an email forum.

Many times users have questions that our site doesn't cover. The Ubuntu Mini 9 Google group was created so that users can tap the community to get answers for their questions or problems. The Dell Mini 9 is bringing many new Linux users into the fold and they could use your help.

You can subscribe by using the Google Group widget on the left sidebar of our page or by visiting the Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group Homepage

Group email:

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Friday, November 14, 2008

My Ubuntu Stickers Came In

About a week and a half ago I sent off for my free Ubuntu Stickers. Today they came in, with a little note:

Enclosed are the 'Powered by Ubuntu" sticker you requested.

With the incredible success of Ubuntu around the world, the LoCo project is here to help groups of Ubuntu fans and enthusiasts work together in regional teams to help advocate, promote, translate, develop and otherwise improve Ubuntu.

Join or start an Ubuntu Local Community Team at




I never mention how cool local Ubuntu Community groups are. Their hard work and dedication help make Ubuntu what it is. Thanks!

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Configure Synaptics Touchpad Ubuntu 8.10

There are a few ways to configure you synaptic touchpag settings in Ubuntu 8.10

The first was sent to us by JewHouse
It involves no configuration, just the installation of a .deb. The only drawback is that TouchFreeze only allows you to customize the touchpad delay when typing.

In a terminal type:
sudo apt-get install touchfreeze

You can then find TouchFreeze in Applications > Accessories

TouchFreeze then loads in your notification area and you can double click the icon to configure it

The second involves enabling SHMConfig, I found the howto on the Ubuntu Community Documents Pages.

Note: This method is not secure if you are in a n untrusted multiuser environment. All local users can change the parameters at any time.

In a terminal type:
sudo gedit /etc/hal/fdi/policy/shmconfig.fdi

Then add this to the blank file you just created:
Blogger wouldn't display it properly, so to copy the text click here
Screenshot-*shmconfig.fdi (-etc-hal-fdi-policy) - gedit

Save the file and then reboot
To reboot in a terminal type:
sudo reboot

Now that you have enabled SHMConfig you can use qsynpatics or gsynaptics to configure your touchpad and configure more than just a typing delay. I prefer qsynaptics.

To install the .deb for your version of qsyanptics (most will need the i386 version) click here
qsynaptics .debs for other architecture

To run qsyanptics, type the command qsyanptics in a terminal or in a Run Application Box (press Alt and F2).
Screenshot-Run Application

To make the setting load when you login:
Go to System > Preferences > Sessions, add a new command
Screenshot-Add Startup Program
qsynaptics -r

To install gsynaptics in a terminal type:
sudo apt-get install gsynaptics

You can find gsynaptics in System > Preferences

Screenshot-Touchpad Preferences
Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cheap Neoprene Case for Your Mini

I just want everyone to know that, a Hong Kong based online store, has a protective neoprene case for 8"/9" netbooks for cheap. For $4.99 with free shipping, you get get a reversible neoprene case.

One side is black with red trim, while the other is red with black stitching. Needless to say I rock the red side. The case fits perfectly. It's thick and should protect your mini from scratches and bumps. does sell some slightly illegal stuff, but is a reputable online store.

I've seen netbook cases going for $30 dollars, the DealExtreme case is the same material and quality. It definitely gets the Ubuntu Mini seal of approval.
Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Free Ubuntu Stickers

Free as in the cost of stamps and envelopes. System76 is offering Powered by Ubuntu linux stickers for your netbook. I don't know why Dell didn't put these on the Mini's that shipped with Ubuntu. I just sent for mine, I'll post a few pics when they come in.

In the United States Send a self addressed stamped envelope to:
System76, Inc. (Free Sticker)
1582 S. Parker Rd. Ste. 310
Denver, Colorado 80231

Don't live in the US? Don't sweat it. Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and Venezuela all have there own offers. CLICK HERE for your local address.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Go Vote

This morning I received a email from that sums up what I wanted to write today.

This Tuesday, we will elect the next President of the United States. The result will have great consequences for the nation.

This election offers a choice between two men with dramatically different visions of the future. We have strong feelings about this choice. But we feel even more strongly that all Americans, regardless of political preference, have a stake in the outcome and should vote in this critical election.

This is likely to be a close election. Your vote matters. Please use it and make a difference.

So dust off, your Cheeto stained hands, stop watching internet porn and go vote. I know the sun is a harsh beast, but sacrifices must be made.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
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