Here is the link to Part 1.
First thing, I started installing my beloved Visual Studio’s one by one. Then I rebuilt a few of my products. That went well. Next I started installing a wide range of CAD applications. After each install I played around a little, basically to see if they started up fine and could be used at least as viewers. I would not be using them to do actual drafting or designing. I just wanted them to open drawings and models and do some basic editing at the most. Here is a list of CAD systems that are currently installed on my Dell Inspiron Mini 10v and are working just fine.
Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended
Alibre Design V12
AutoCAD 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2010
CoCreate Modeling 2.0
IntelliCAD’s (a bunch of them)
Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0
Rhinoceros 3.0 and 4.0
Solid Edge ST
Then of course, there’s the entire range of Microsoft Office applications and a bunch of other utility programs. After fiddling around for a while I can say that these programs are quite usable as long as they are the only ones that you are working with. I usually have the habit of opening up two or three of them a once and working in all of them, since my work mainly involves data exchange. With the kind of limited hardware that the Mini has, that may become a problem.
But I have to say that these netbooks were not designed for this kind of work. I mean you are going to have a tough time even finding your way in a CAD program with a screen resolution of 1024×600, which is what the Mini has. AutoCAD 2010 complains about the screen resolution every time it starts. I even had a problem installing AutoCAD 2010 and Inventor 2010 because the installer windows were taller than the 600 pixels. I had to use the keyboard (Alt+Space, select Move and Arrow keys) to move the window up so that I could calculate the number of Tabs I needed to press to get the focus on the button I wanted to press. So obviously, you are not expected to use applications like these on netbooks. But that was not going to stop me.
Running “smaller” programs like SketchUp were really not a problem at all. The larger ones obviously took some time to start up and idle. But after that, using them was not too bad. I could quickly model a few simple parts and assemblies in the MCAD systems. It may be important to note that all this is happening on Windows XP Home Edition. I have no idea how these CAD systems will work on Vista or 7 with all their flashy UI stuff that hogs memory and processor resources. I am even using the Windows Classic theme. But inspite of all this, things are a bit slow, as expected I must add. I suppose I should be thankful that these applications are working to begin with.
I have been fiddling around with this piece of hardware for a couple of days now. Not a single crash. Neither from Windows, nor from any of the applications listed above. It may still be a bit early, but my initial thoughts are that the decision of buying the Dell Inspiron 10v was probably a good one.
Even after doing all of the above, the engineer in me was still not completely satisfied. I wanted to see things break. Break as in crash, boom, bang. I wanted to test the limits of this “teenage girl’s computer“. What better tool than SolidWorks 2010 to do that. And that is precisely what we will see in the next part of this series.