I've had my HP Mini 110 netbook since October of last year and I've been entirely satisfied with it. It really has worked flawlessly for me. It came with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and HP's now defunct Mi interface preloaded. (For those who want more info on this system see Ladlislav Bodnar's review for DistroWatch.) Since then I have tried newer versions of Ubuntu as well as a variety of other Linux distributions on the little system. Most have worked well in the end but installation has been challenging at times.
I first ran into what turns out to be a recurring problem when I installed Pardus 2009 last fall. The installer would lock up at
Since then I have run into an almost identical problem in openSUSE 11.2, Slackware 13.1 and SalixOS 13.1, a Slackware derivative. In SalixOS, for example, the installer freezes at:
Starting udevd: /sbin/udevd --demon
Triggering udev events: /sbin/udevadm trigger
Another SalixOS user has reported the exact same problem with the newer HP Mini 210 netbook. Both of these systems have Broadcom 4312 wireless chipsets which are incompatible with the b43 kernel module and the ssb module on which b43 depends. It appears that the wireless chipset as implemented in these netbooks conflicts with the ssb module, causing the system to freeze. This problem may exist in other systems using the same wireless chip or similar Broadcom models.
As you might expect, the Ubuntu installer does not have this problem on the HP Mini 110 and the correct driver is offered for installation automatically. There are definite advantages to having worked with the vendor on a preloaded version of a distribution. In fairness I should add that Ubuntu, in general, does an excellent job with hardware detection.
The solution in all of the distributions I've tried where the installed locked up is one I learned after asking for help in the Pardus Worldforum last October. It should work for most if not all Linux distributions that have the same issue. Pass ssb.blacklist=1 to the installer as a kernel parameter and installation proceeds normally. You also need to pass the same parameter after installation at first boot or the OS will freeze just as the installer did.
Once your newly installed Linux distribution boots up you still won't have functional wireless. To make it work you need to install and enable the proprietary Broadcom STA driver. Some distributions, including Pardus and Ubuntu, have packaged the driver and included it in their repository. Others, including Fedora and openSUSE use packages provided in third party repositories. For Slackware 13.x and SalixOS 13.x you can find build scripts and links to the source code at Slackbuilds.org (13.1, 13.0). You will need to be certain that both the b43 and ssb drivers are blacklisted. Simply add
to the end of /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf. Both the packages generated by the Slackbuild scripts and the binary packages in the other distributions I have used will configure the system to load the wl driver automatically at boot. You can check this with the command:
lsmod | grep wl
It should return a line for wl and a line for lib80211 with wl appended at the end. You can determine which interface your wireless is assigned to with the command
on my HP Mini 110 it has always been eth1. You may also need to configure whatever software you are using to manage wireless, such as wicd or networkmanager, to use the correct interface.
I'm pleased to say that once the various distributions were correctly installed and configured they worked quite well, with openSUSE 11.2 being the sole exception.