Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventures with the Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 Netbook - Part 1

(This revised blog was also first posted on myspace on Wednesday, August 5, 2009)

First Use of the Netbook

I finally found the time to sit down and un-box my new Lenovo Ideapad S10-2 netbook. I hooked up the pieces together and proceeded to carry out the first thing I normally do when I get a new notebook - or in this case, a netbook - make a backup image of the contents of the hard disk. I normally use Acronis 11 Home - a backup and recovery sotware that can be booted up from a CD-ROM drive or other bottable device like a USB thumb drive. So I booted into Acronis from the external DVD drive and made the image which was stored on the external USB hard disk drive. During this process I was intrigued to discover that there were 3 partitions on the hard disk - two primary partitions, one of which was a hidden partition, and one extended partition. All these partitions were formatted with the NTFS file system. I made a note to myself to investigate the partitions further once I made an image as I suspect that the layout could cause problems when I try to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix Linux later.

While the image was being created, I proceeded to read the user manual that came with the netbook (yes - I am one of the few people that DO bother to read manuals - a practice that got me out of trouble many times previously). There is mention of the hidden partition in which, according to the manual, contains an image of the hard disk which is to be used with what Lenovo termed as the OneKey Rescue System. Further reading revealed that this system can be initiated by pressing the OneKey button instead of the power button to start the netbook. Once this system is running, the user can use it to revert the Windows Home OS back to the factory default state. I assume that you only do this is your Windows is so badly screwed up that you have no choice but re-install it (a familiar scenario with lots of people). But one burning question remains - WHAT CAN YOU DO IF THE HARD DISK ITSELF IS FAULTY? The answer is NOTHING because Lenovo does NOT provide a recovery CDROM from which you can re-install Windows on a new hard disk.

To be fair - Lenovo provides a method (according to the manual) of creating a recovery disk on CD or DVD. This also involves the OneKey Recovery System but, for this case, the OneKey system must be run from Windows!!! So you have to start using Windows and then run the OneKey Recovery System and create the recovery disk(s). Geeze what a mess - whoever thought up this mess ought to be shot! Hey Lenovo, wouldn't is be far simpler to provide a recovery disk (on CD-ROM or USB key) that allows the user to install a fresh system when necessary? An even cheaper method would be to provide the Windows XP Home CD-ROM and the necessary drivers for the various netbook devices on another CD-ROM. I suspect that Lenovo would not go with the last suggestion for fear of piracy. Once again, legitimate users gets shafted by manufacturers in order to prevent piracy.

When the image of the hard disk on my new Lenovo S10-2 netbook was finally made, I started up the netbook for the first time. After the normal Windows XP first run setup process, the desktop appeared with a pop-up from Norton Internet Security asking me to install it. Since I do not plan to use this POS, I declined and decided to uninstall it later. I also noticed that a 60-day free trial of Microsoft Office 2007 on the desktop and was determined to also uninstall this software as I already have a legitimate copy of Office 2007 which I plan to install later.

I started up Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs and took a look at what was already installed on the netbook. Thankfully, and unlike several other notebooks that I came across previously, there was not much 'junk' software. The first item that was uninstalled was Norton Internet Security - a complete uninstall was done after which a restart was required (phooey!).

After a restart, (and the obligatory "Your computer might be at risk" pop-up which appear after startup), I then proceeded to remove the 60-day free trial of Microsoft Office 2007. First I removed the Activation Assistant for the 2007 Microsoft office suites, followed by the 2007 Microsoft Office system after which the system had to re-started again (double phooey!). After restarting I removed the Microsoft Office Web Component, Microsoft Office Primary Interop Assemblies, and the Microsoft Office Small Business Connectivity Components.

I also noticed from the list of programs installed that the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 was also installed. Why anyone would want to run a SQL server on a netbook is beyond my understanding. Maybe, the MS-Office required this but since I have removed it, I also decided to also remove the SQL server. First I removed the MS SQL Server 2005, then the MS SQL Server VSS Writer, followed by the MS SQL Setup Support Files. I then removed the MS SQL Server Native Client. I was not sure whether the MS XML 6.0 Parser was part of the SQL Server so I left it alone. After this all the programs that I did not want on my netbook was removed.

While I was busy removing the junk from my netbook, the system was busy downloading some updates from Microsoft for the Windows XP via the internet. Looked as if there are a lot of them - finally, after 6 solid hours, all the updates from Microsoft were downloaded and installed. This is with a 512 kbps ADSL connection to the internet! Unfortunately, my ISP is the worst ISP in the world, nay, maybe in the universe! That's the result of living in a country with a monopoly provider.

I then installed the free edition of AVG 8.5 anti-virus software and updated it to the latest virus definitions. This is all I need for anti-virus/spyware/malware purposes. I then tweaked Windows XP to my personal preferences. I now have a base system that I like. Now I needed to make a backup of this system along with a recovery disc set. Should anything happen to my Windows installation later, I can always restore it to the base level using the OneKey Rescue System if the hard disk is still OK. Should disaster strike the hard disk, I can hopefully restore the base system using the recovery disc set on a new hard disk. This is what is promised by Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System and I will go ahead to test whether this is true by carrying out the following:

1) I will make a backup using Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System under Windows and store the backup file to a external USB hard disk drive.

2) I will create a recovery disc set to DVD-ROM(s) using Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System under Windows.

3) Test out Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System WITHOUT using Windows (i.e., just pressing the OneKey button to start the system) and restore the hard disk back to the factory default.

4) Use the same OneKey button and restore the base system from the backup I made previously.

5) Test the recovery disc set after I purchase another 2.5" SATA hard disk drive (same model and size) and use that drive to test Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System in order to determine whether I can restore a working system on the new drive.

Stay tuned...

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