Sharp MM20 Update

I was asked by someone about the Sharp MM20’s Linux compatibility. I decided to post the info I gave him here to help anyone else thinking about getting one.

Unfortunately the Actius MM20 is a huge piece of crap. Despite it’s incredible smallness, sharp screen, long battery life and Linux compatibility (Ubuntu worked out of the box once you added a small kernel argument in grub.) The hard drive in it (at least for me) is very fragile. After I installed Linux on it and everything worked fine, I went to install Windows XP. In the middle of that install the hard drive started making noise and there was an amazing crash. I think something in the hard drive melted. This happened at the worst moment because I was going to move to Japan in less than a week.

Instead of sending it back I decided to place a rush order for a new hard drive (They are very hard to find) and replace it myself. Unfortunately the company didn’t send it using the U.S. post office so the hard drive got sent back the day before I left. Eventually I got it sent to me in Japan and replaced the hard drive. I got Ubuntu on it just fine, until I ran an update. The hard drive broke again. (This time making even worse noises.) So my theory is that the Hitachi hard drive in the MM20 is way too sensitive to use in even normal ways. Although mine was a refurbished model so it could also just as likely be a short circuit of some sort burning the hard disk.

Now my MM20 is just collecting dust in a corner of my room. I can still use it as a thin client with it’s network boot capability.

New Laptop

I got my new laptop today, It took a while to do a network install but I’m happy to say that Ubuntu worked very well out of the box. The only problem is the sound, and suspend. I hate having to mess with ALSA, and kernel patches. I’ll have to try Breezy before I go to japan to see if it fixes anything. I’m going to check out the Breezy bugzilla tomorrow and see what I can do.

Hardware-wize the computer is just barely on the slow side, especially when the battery is low. The keyboard has the compose key on the left of the spacebar, and shift + ` isn’t ~. I’m not sure what to do about that last one… ~ is a really important key, and I don’t know why it’s missing….

I love how small it is, and how bright and sharp the screen is. I’ll post a couple of pictures up on my gallery later I guess.

In other news I made some progress with my HTML and lyrics plugins for Quod Libet. Try them out and tell me what you think.


Lately I’ve felt pretty unmotivated to do any programming. A couple of weeks ago I felt like I could code everything, and now I barely have the motivation to finish my Quod Libet plugins. I’ve also been thinking of what type of programming interests me the most. I’m not really sure, I guess web programming is the most interesting right now.

Since I haven’t really been doing any programming I’ve tried to spend more time studying Kanji and brushing up on my Japanese. I really wish I could find someone to practice with over here in Puerto Rico. I heard long ago that the University of Puerto Rico has a Japanese club/class that meets once a week. I should ask Ms. Quesada where I can find them.

I ordered my new laptop from Sharp yesterday, The Actius MM20. It’s really small (10.4″) and light, and I ordered the 9 hour battery too. It has a Transmeta processor at 1GHz and 512 MB of RAM, 20GB HD, and integrated wireless. A nice step-up from my current laptop (PII 300MHz, 288 MB RAM, 6GB HD.) Online I found that it’ll run just fine with a slightly modified kernel. I hope I can manage without a custom kernel because keeping track of kernel security fixes on one’s own is a pain. I’m still not sure what kind of Internet connection I can expect at my host family’s house. Doug is convinced every person in Japan has direct 1-10mbps connections to the Internet. I hear that in Japan you have to pay per minute no matter what call it is, even local so It’d make sense if everyone in Japan had DSL/Cable. Even if there’s no Internet in my host family’s house, there should be at the school.

I recommend to everyone going to do a home-stay in Japan. Especially part 3 with the journals. I hope I learn enough that I can avoid a couple of mistakes.