The 3K Razorbook 400, TrendTac/Skytone Alpha 400, or whatever else you want to call the cheap netbook made by Exon Technology, may not be the most powerful computer around. But it’s certainly one of the cheapest, typically selling for $250 or less.
But these little laptops tend to run a custom version of Linux that’s hard to alter, replace, or do much of anything with. Sure, it includes a web browser, word processor, and several other basic applications. But if you want newer apps like Firefox 3, good luck trying to get them to work on an Alpha 400 running the default operating system.
But now there’s an alternative, at least if you’re willing to run alpha software. A hacker by the name of Lee has put together a custom Linux distribution for these tiny netbooks.
Xenium Linux is still pretty rough around the edges. For example, there’s no way to automatically connect to a network, you’ll have to do it manually every time. And the same goes for mounting USB devices. You’ll have to mount them manually as well.
But this is just an early build. Those problems and others could be fixed in future releases. And unlike the version of Linux that ships on these laptops, Xenium isn’t locked down. It should be much easier to install programs and customize your operating system, desktop environment.
And this should go without saying, but if you decide to replace your operating system, you will lose all the data on your netbook. So make sure to backup any important files first. There’s currently no easy way to make a dual boot Alpha 400.