Should we Wait for Android to Arrive on Netbooks?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Ubuntu Inside

Ubuntu NBR seems like a very serviceable netbook OS which you can have right now. No need to wait for Android. No need to wait for Windows 7. Go ahead and jump in, the water's lovely.

Being a netbook addict I thought it was high time I tried Linux (again) on my latest arrival. I have seven netbooks scattered around the house and office which I use for my business and for my tech education. I have had Asus Eee PC's, a Samsung NC10, an MSI Wind, and two Dell Mini 9's. The Dell's shipped with Ubuntu 8.04 and the Asus' came with Xandros. I had a tough time accepting either OS so I ended up changing to Windows XP.

The latest addition to my stack of netbooks is the Dell Mini 10v. This arrived with Ubuntu 8.04 which I upgraded with the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix (NBR) so I could play with it for a bit. I intended to install Windows XP just like all the others but I have had my mind changed. Here are my experiences.

First the Dell Mini 10v:

  • It has a wonderful keyboard, bigger and more usable than all the others.
  • The half-height SD Card slot means that you cannot easily extend the meagre 8gb SSD without an a card sticking out the side (I am sure the marketing team at Dell triumphed over the engineers on this one).
  • The ultra bright screen is the best I have seen, but the reflecting glass can be annoying. I prefer a mat finish eventhough I know this makes me a bit uncool.
Now the Ubuntu NBR:
  • I effortlessly installed it from a 1GB thumb drive.
  • All devices were detected, sound, video, microphone, wifi without the need for additional downloaded drivers.
  • The default sound volume was a little bit quiet but I rectified this by upping one of the sound channels.
  • When I used the wifi for the first time it wanted to join the default keyring with a password which I had to enter every time I came out of standby, I soon got rid of that. This might be a bit beyond your average user.
  • WAF: excellent, she opens it, the wifi connects, she uses Firefox to find what she wants, she closes it and puts it down again.
  • I haven't tried printing yet but that problem is bound to come up at some point.
  • NBR does not come with Skype and the Synaptic package manager does not show it.
  • I had difficulty coming to grips with Synaptic package manager but the convenient Ubuntu 'Add/Remove' was a bit more friendly.
  • I accidentally installed the swfdec Gnome Flash player instead of the Adobe one which caused problems on Youtube. I had to rectify that.
All in all NBR is proving to be a great experience and until I find something better I am sticking to it. Dell had already tested NBR before they launched the 10v (check out Doug Anson's video here) so they must have been hedging their bets. The shipped Ubuntu 8.04 which is starting to look a bit long in the tooth. A year is a long time in tech. The fixes in 9.04 make a much more polished experience than its predecessors. The anti-aliasing and improved wifi are the features which tip me over the edge. Come back in three month's time to see if I am still using it.

Posted by Robin Yellow at 15:39  

5 comments:

I see folks talking about Fedora 11 the last few days. Any chance you'd get it a shot?

**disclaimer: I've been using Ubuntu since Warty having switched from a bastardize Debian 3 pieced together with duct tape.

macewan said...
10 June 2009 at 14:18  

You mean with maximus? (http://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=220085) I am quite agnostic about distros so right now I am not compelled towards F11.

Robin Yellow said...
10 June 2009 at 16:06  

I purchased an Acer netbook in late January. It came with the Linpus Lite operating system.

As a basic OS it was Ok, but it did not allow me to install my own software or upgrade the applications included with it. Specifically, it would not let me upgrade FireFox 2 to FireFox 3 and that was giving me fits.

So after some research I decided on installing Ubuntu 9.0.4 NBR. First let me say, I am mostly pleased with it. However, in terms of ease of installation and trouble shooting problems, it is still more difficult than Windows XP and does not even come close to approach OS X's ease of use.

It is not yet a general consumer product.

Josh said...
10 June 2009 at 18:38  

NBR is definitely less friendly than Windows XP as you say Josh, but let me qualify that a bit. NBR is less **familiar** than Windows XP and maybe that is the difference. Those people I know who are familiar with Synaptic tell me that it is the best package installer and patcher money can('t) buy.

NBR is the best third party post purchase OS I have experienced so far, perhaps until Moblin, perhaps until Android. Apparently there are 26,000 apps in the ubuntu repository. How many are there in the Android app store? How many different light saber applications does one distro need?

Robin Yellow said...
10 June 2009 at 21:34  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jaya said...
29 June 2009 at 07:05  

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