All posts by ArizonaBikeLaw

MSI Wind Nettop

I bought one of the newer MSI Wind Nettop from Amazon, their description at the time said:

MSI Wind Nettop 100 Desktop PC (1.6 GHz Intel Atom  Dual Core N330 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, Barebone) Black. The price was $178 free ship which seemed pretty good.

It came in early March 2009 — despite it being on backorder, and despite amazon’s projected delivery of 3/31.

Anyway, it was a typo on Amazon’s part; it doesn’t really have Ram, or a hard drive — so I sent it back. Here is the same item at Newegg.

I can’t exactly find it on the MSI website, but this one is pretty close. The one i got definitely had the N330 Atom, though.

So while i had it, i put in a 512mb so-dimm (it only has one mem slot) and an extra 2.5″ sata hard drive. I tried out both Ubuntu live cd, and Windows XP sp3.

The only peculiarities were 1) the front sd slot isn’t available for booting (bios limitation? Which is weird, because i can boot from the sd slot in my msi wind netbook), and 2) Installstion of XP from cd booted fine from a usb dvd-rom drive, but then hung — I had to rustle up a sata drive to boot from. The sd slot wasn’t accessible to windows until i loaded the included cd of drivers.

The unit drew ~ 24 Watts running windows. Which is great.

Noisey

MSI claims that this pc is “Ultra Quiet” and “offers a true noise-free comfort even during heavy game playing or intensive computing applications“. This is not true.

The only source of noise is a 50mm(?) case fan which is controlled by the motherboard. The bios seems to have no settings for this. It only reports the fan speed. The CPU and chipset are covered by a machined aluminum heat sink.

It starts up with a brief roar, then settles down into what could be fairly described as nearly inaudible. Unfortunately the slightest activity (e.g. opening up a tab in firefox) causes the fan to speed up and become quite loud — for a minimum of a couple of minutes. then if it’s idling, the fan will revert back to nearly inaudible. It’s pretty annoying.

One ray of hope: the latest bios, 1.7 said “Fine Tune Smart Fan”. My hopes were quickly dashed when it turned out my machine already had the latest ūüôĀ


MSI Wind: Ubuntu

(late 2008 timeframe?) I’m running ubuntu 8.10 booted off a live CD and then System/Administration/”Create a USB startup disk” on a usb flashdrive. I let it do it’s casper thing so that changes are sticky — using 256M for the casper file. I saved a copy of the casper file so that i don’t have to re-create the flash drive. From time to time (i guess) the filesystem runs out of space and bad things happen, in that case just restore the saved casper file. Continue reading MSI Wind: Ubuntu

MSI Wind OSX

(note the date is actually eight years hence. 2008)I located the file MSIWindowsox86.iso, and had trouble getting the installer to do much of anything. It just barely started and then it gets stuck saying “waiting for root device” or something.¬†The problem was the usb to ide dongle I was using to connect an old DVD drive (actually, I’m not sure which one was the problem — but it was one or the other!). Anyway I got a cheapo usb to sata dongle off of ebay and connected that to my newer Liteon DVD SATA and the installer booted up and worked perfectly.¬†But I couldn’t get it to boot off the hard drive.Apparently osx has to boot from a primary (not extended) partition. This is becoming problematic because I have 3 primaries already used up: one for recovery, one for Win XP and one for extra space (which I shrunk with ubuntu gparted to make room). So now i’m using my last primary partition for OSX (type 0xAF).Actually after the install it STILL wouldn’t boot — the installer sets the boot flag on the osx partion. the error is “HFS+ partition error”.What does work is copying the /usr/standalone/i386/chain0 file (this can be done in ubuntu, it can mount the HFS partition) to the root of the windows partition and adding a line in boot.ini, i.e. “c:\chain0=”whatever”.Once booted up, i was pleasantly suprised to see the webcam and audio just worked.What doesn’t work is wireless or even ethernet :-)Wireless can be enabled by getting the driver for 10.5 from ralink’s taiwanese site. It is a little ugly but it works. The only bug seems to be the radio defaults to off, so you must use the ralink applet to toggle the radio to get it on. this must be done each and every time the computer comes up either from fresh boot, or even from standby.Trouble with the ethernet can be fixed by messing around with the speed/auto sensing. Again, it is messed up either from fresh boot or standby.

Burn capacity

“Playo” DVD-R, when blank Nero disc info says 4,489MB available. Here is detailed info from imgburn:

Free Sectors: 2,298,496
Free Space: 4,707,319,808 bytes
Free Time: 510:48:46 (MM:SS:FF)
Supported Write Speeds: 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, 12x, 16x, 18x
Pre-recorded Information:
Manufacturer ID: MCC 03RG20
Physical Format Information (Last Recorded):
Disc ID: 0@P-!-00
Book Type: DVD-R
Part Version: 5
Disc Size: 120mm
Maximum Read Rate: Not Specified
Number of Layers: 1
Track Path: Parallel Track Path (PTP)
Linear Density: 0.267 um/bit
Track Density: 0.74 um/track
First Physical Sector of Data Area: 196,608
Last Physical Sector of Data Area: 2,495,103
Last Physical Sector in Layer 0: 0

MSI Wind “Netbook”

— the actual date is Nov 16, 2008 —

— I subtracted 8 years for this category —

U100-279US MSI Part Number: 9S7-N01152-279. Another MSI site. The sticker on bottom says Model Number MS-N011

Serial Number (which is on the box, and strangely i can’t find on the unit?!): U100-279USK0809000480. (is that in nv memory maybe?)

I think most of the U100’s have a bunch of the same base features: webcam, some sort of wireless.

This unit is relatively fully loaded — 1GB DDR2 memory, 160GB hard drive. Wireless N (Ralink RT02700E). XP is preloaded.

The unit is named Y012 on my network.

My first official act was to open it up and install and extra 512MB of ram (ddr2 so-dimm) i had laying around. I can take up to 1G extra, but there is only one slot.

Since it has no optical drive, just 3 usb ports; i spent a fair amount of time messing around with being sure i could boot from, for example USB sticks, and running ghost. I made a bootable 2.88mbyte key and ghosted the recovery and xp partitions.

OSX should be do-able, but it didn’t work for me; looks like i need a more modern usb to ide dongle. MSIWindosx86.iso

There are hot keys (and hot keys only! also watch out: these devices default to OFF if you cut all power, e.g. battery and ac) for webcam (Fn, F6), wireless and bluetooth (Fn, F11. repeatedly).

Some details:

  • Wireless: Ralink RT-2700E, shows up in device manager as “1T2R Mini Card”. miniPci card sticker: MS-6890, RT-2700E, VQF-RT2700E. lspci: Device 0781, subsys device 6890.
  • Webcam: Bison
  • Bios version: 1.06, apparently. The website has a 1.09 as of the day i got it Nov 11, 2008. Now is says “1.0E“, dated Sept 2009. Here is a blog article about 1.0B (oh, i finally get it, that last digit is a hex nibble)
  • Hard drive:¬† 160GB WD Scorpio, which is coincidentally the same drive that Dave bought to work in the xbox.

Inital Hard Drive configuration:

Ranish Partition Manager       Version 2.40.00
152,627M [ 19,457 cyls x 255 heads x 63 sects = 312,581,808 sects ]
                File                Starting         Ending      Partition

# Type Row   System Type         Cyl Head Sect    Cyl Head Sect  Size [KB]

0  MBR   Master Boot Record        0    0    1      0    0    1           0

1  Pri   Unused                    0    0    2      0    0   63          31

2  Pri 1 Compaq Diagnostics        0    1    1    509  254   63   4,096,543

3 >Pri 2 Windows NT NTFS         510    0    1  5,609  254   63  40,965,750

4  Pri 3 Windows NT NTFS       5,610    0    1 19,456  254   63 111,226,027

5  Pri   Unused               19,457    0    1 19,457   80   63       2,551

There is a bios function, if you hit F3 while posting you can run the recovery stuff on the hidden (hidden to windows, that is) partion 1. This will do a factory-restore of XP, I tried it and it worked fine and took like 15 minutes. Note that you have to then go through the initial Windows stuff (name, etc).

There is an application to create a recovery DVD (image, since the unit has no burner) — I did this and then chose to delete the recovery files since that makes the XP partion ~ 2G smaller. The unit also ships with a recovery DVD. Since I deleted the recovery files under XP with the tool, I can no longer create a recovery dvd (easily). Then I ghosted the recovery partion — this yielded about 2.5G worth of data and I burned that on yet another DVD that can be used to restore a recovery partition should the need arise.

The XP ghosts were 5 gigs including recovery files, and under 3G without.

Threads on the MSI Wind Forum on how to get the wireless working: here and here This actually worked; all i needed to do was install mkds(?) from the synaptic pkg mgr, then I double clicked on the .deb file mentioned in the posting. I rebooted (not necessary?) and ran the network configurator widget and connected to my web network. I don’t know how you “roam” (i.e. connect to an open network you don’t know what the ssid is?)?