OS X NetBook recommendations
October 24, 2008 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Four years on and Apple still don't make the tiny MacBook I want, so I'm going to have a pop at making my own. What's the best NetBook for this?

I realise that there isn't a model out there that does everything perfectly, and I'll have to compromise. What really must work is sleep and wifi, but I can live without sound or ethernet.

Size is everything, but keyboard and battery life are also v. important. Has anyone got any experience with doing this, or any recommendations?
posted by bonaldi to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Based on my understanding (and experience since I did it) the asus eee 1000h is pretty close to perfect. Good sized keyboard and ~4 hours battery life.

I installed 10.5.4 without too much trouble. The wireless works with drivers from the manufacturer (ralink) but is a teeny bit wonky (you have to disable/enable the radio to see access points and you have to use the ralink app to manage it). The wired network I have heard doesnt work but Im not sure since I dont have a need for it.. Im sure people have a work around. The sound does not work- however, I got a 7 dollar usb sound card from newegg that works perfectly. Sleep appears to work fine.

I currently triple boot since the 160 gigs of storage is pretty generous for such things.
posted by zennoshinjou at 9:42 AM on October 24, 2008

Mandatory link to latest MacNetBook rumor.

My two favorite Macs were the PowerBook Duo and the PowerBook 12".... not coincidentally the two smallest laptops Apple made.

I usually wait for rev2 products, but I'd line up for the first real OSX NetBook.
posted by rokusan at 10:01 AM on October 24, 2008

There's also OSX on the Dell Mini - it looks like this individual got it working perfectly without too much effort. I'd probably go with the upgraded version of the Mini - with an 8gb SSD, and 1g RAM, as the idea of running leopard on 512Mb of ram scares me. You could also probably just swap each of those out, and put in a decent-size normal drive. I'm not sure whether you can cram more ram in there or not.
posted by god hates math at 10:02 AM on October 24, 2008

Check this.
posted by deezil at 10:11 AM on October 24, 2008

I've got the Asus EEE 900 running Ubuntu. I really enjoyed learning Linux on it. The default Xandros OS is crap, though. You can make Ubuntu look almost as snazzy as OS X, definitely an upgrade from Windows. I find the size and weight to be perfect. I wrote two master's term papers on it last year. My only real gripe is that I can't turn the touchpad off while typing, which can be a pretty big annoyance sometimes.

I think the EEE 1000 looks like a great option too, but if size is #1, I'd stick with the 900.
posted by trinarian at 10:52 AM on October 24, 2008

Macbook Air too big?

Just picked up a new Macbook (not Pro, not Air) for my wife and it is pretty darn small.
posted by schwa at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2008

Hackintosh eee pc instructions here. These things are tiny. I wouldnt get internet recommendations for this, I'd go to the store and try them hands-on first. A lot of people like the MSI Wind too, not sure if it is hackintosh compatible.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2008

The Wind is compatible. There is actually a specific distribution of OSx86 for the Wind.
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:19 AM on October 24, 2008

The Wind or the Dell seem to be the best bets for this. Last I heard the Wind had no sound and the Dell doesn't sleep. Not sure about the sound issue for the Wind, but the Dell is very close to sleeping as of earlier this week.
Try the threads on Insanely Mac to get a better feel for what each one is capable of.
posted by piedmont at 11:28 AM on October 24, 2008

MSI Wind, Dell Inspiron mini 9
posted by moof at 11:28 AM on October 24, 2008

You could also probably just swap each of those out, and put in a decent-size normal drive. I'm not sure whether you can cram more ram in there or not.

Missed this. There is a 3rd party 32GB SSD available for just around $100, and the Mini takes standard notebook RAM up to 2GB.
posted by piedmont at 11:30 AM on October 24, 2008

Unless you are wedded to the idea of SSD why limit yourself to 32gb (or less) when you can get something with a conventional hard drive thats way larger?
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:38 AM on October 24, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks a lot for all of these, guys. The Wind and the Dell do look like the best bets, and I see that the sleep thing might be fixed by swapping SSDs. I do think I'll need to try them on for size, but trinarian managing essays on the 901 is a great sign.

schwa: Ye, the Air's just too big in frame. It's light enough, really, but still a lardy beast when I need to be unobtrusive.
posted by bonaldi at 11:45 AM on October 24, 2008

I just bought a wind myself. The 3 cell one is rebated $50 at newegg right now. There is also an active msi wind community (msiwind.net). This isn't an endorsement though as I don't actually have it yet. Just an FYI.
posted by chairface at 3:07 PM on October 24, 2008

I just bought a Lenovo S10. I added a 2 gig stick of ram and a 320 gig hard drive in about 5 minutes. I'm running osx and it is working great. Wireless works with a driver patch. Currently the sound and ethernet aren't working, but I'm using a usb headset that works fine. It runs great!
posted by meta87 at 3:38 PM on October 24, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting, meta87! Does the wireless work natively (with the menubar icon)? What sort of battery life do you get?
posted by bonaldi at 3:52 PM on October 24, 2008

If you're really only going to be doing net surfing, email, word processing and the like, you could consider getting a late model 12" Powerbook and maxing out everything. I got a great condition 1.5 GHz model for $700 on Craigslist, and spend another $150 or so on a new hard drive and more RAM. I was eligible for a brand new battery from Apple, but I think you could pick one of those up for $100 or so if not. So around $1000 in total.

Of course you may be looking for something to replace the 12" Powerbook you already have...
posted by DLWM at 5:22 PM on October 24, 2008

Yes it works with the menubar icon like normal. I haven't tested the battery too much, but I'd say about 2 1/2 to 3 hours with wireless on. I think I heard that they are coming out with a 6 cell battery that would improve the battery life alot.
posted by meta87 at 11:52 PM on October 24, 2008

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