SQL Server on a Netbook – Part 1

In a prior post I mentioned that I’ll be going on SQLCruise soon.  My Thinkpad might be seven years old, but it has everything on it needed for a SQL Server learning environment, so I thought it would go on the cruise.  However, the battery on my Thinkpad doesn’t get very far anymore, and I read that power outlets would not be abundant on the cruise ship.  With that I went in search for a solution that could run all day on a single charge.  It needed to run SQL Server with sample databases so that I could execute scripts and run demos.  Ideally it also would be lightweight to make travel easier, wouldn’t generate enough heat to warm a small room, and would run Windows 7 so that I’d have an up-to-date operating system.

Last year, my wife Tamara got a Asus Eee PC 1005HA netbook to see if it could replace the seven pound laptop with a 15″ screen that had become increasingly unpleasant to lug around.  To date, her netbook has been able to handle everything thrown at it.  It runs a full version of Microsoft Office and has been used for presentations and software demos.

After witnessing the success my wife had with her netbook, I wondered if I could find one to meet my needs.  With a quick Google web search I saw a name that many of us in the SQL Server community would recognize, Tim Mitchell (Blog@Tim_Mitchell).   Last year Tim reported on running SQL Server with his netbook and later followed up on upgrading it to Windows 7.  Tim’s message was positive, nevertheless I sent out a message on twitter asking if anyone else had installed SQL Server on a netbook.  Dave Leininger (@DaveLeininger), who I know from attending the last two IndyTechFest events, replied that it works fine on his netbook, so just get one.  That was good enough for me to move forward.

Of course, once you start looking at something with a 10″ screen weighing 2.8 pounds, it’s easy to be distracted by shiny objects that are just a bit larger and a smidge heavier. First, there are small but powerful notebooks just over 3 pounds with a dual core processor and supporting up to 8 GB of RAM.  However, the battery life on such machines is shorter than I want and the amount of heat generated is incredible (on one, the trackpad would get too hot to touch).  I also considered an Asus Eee PC 1201N with a larger 12″ screen and dual core processor, but again, the battery life was half of what I needed.

I finally decided on the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE Netbook, which is pretty much the same machine as the one my wife bought last year, but with newer 64 bit processor (Intel® Atom™ N450) and longer battery life.  Below is a photo of it next to my Microsoft Natural keyboard and 22″ monitors.

Part 2 dives into upgrades and installations.  As a preview, I’ll just say that so far I have not been disappointed!


Professional SQL Server 2012 Internals and Troubleshooting

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Noel McKinney is the administrator of noelmckinney.com
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8 Responses to SQL Server on a Netbook – Part 1

  1. Bob Pusateri says:

    Hope it works out for ya – I look forward to hearing more about it!

  2. Chuck Rummel says:

    I’m curious to see how SSMS with all the flyouts you can pin down works for you on a netbook screen. At work I’ve gotten used to using it on a bigger monitor (dual) so I sometimes catch myself on the laptop wishing for the work monitors or looking for the other screen. Looking forward to the next installment.

    • That’s SSMS open on the netbook in the photo, so you can get an idea of how tight things are on that tiny screen. I should put up a screenshot or two in the next installment to give a better idea. Like you, I’m accustomed to large monitors, so I don’t see doing a lot work on this little guy. Other than web surfing and reading, I mostly anticipate using it for classroom/training and better-than-nothing situations that might come up when I’m not at a normal workstation.

  3. I just recently got a Toshiba Netbook T115D-S1120 (W7Ult-64bit/4gb/320-72k). I was a bit leary with a single core, but I think that I may try it out. It is way more convenient to pack than my 17″ laptop.

    • I looked up the specs on your netbook and it seems to have more horses than mine plus twice the RAM, so I’d say it’s worth trying out. If you do then maybe you could do a blog post on your experience. I was surprised how little information is out there on running SQL Server on a netbook, we need to get the word out!

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