NetBooks and Operating Systems

Posted by gryphn on August 4, 2009 in Life, Technology |

I was a copy-cat a few months ago and bought a NetBook.  I got the ASUS EeePC 901.  it has a solid state hard drive and it’s about the size of a large paperback.  I love it and it worked great for me when I went to a SANS training at the RSA Conference in San Francisco and didn’t want my Mac anywhere near those looney “security” people.

when it first came it had the Xandros OS on it from ASUS.  while it was nice and pretty, it just didn’t do it for me.  Mainly I think because it didn’t have a terminal.  Who has ever heard of a Linux flavor without a terminal!  Anyway I reformatted it with Windows XP and put office on it for RSA.  Everything worked well and I was pleased. Then I ran out of room trying to update office.  I found out when I reformatted the lil’guy that there isn’t one 20GB SSD drive, but 2.  One is 4GB and the other is 16GB.  The 4GB chip being faster I had decided to install the OS to it and run some tools that modified my profile path and the path to where the OS  installs programs by default. Really everything was wonderful, except not being able to update office! Then I tried to get the webcam to work.  That was a no-go.  I tried everything, well except for the obvious, which didn’t occur to me until after I reformatted with Linux for the fourth or fifth time.  Apparently the webcam is disabled in the BIOS by default for some off the wall reason.

I fixed that and then decided I might as well explore the linux variants that exist for the NetBook crowd.  There are quite a few.  There are 4 that tried out: OpenGEU, Mandriva, EasyPeasy and Moblin.  I had problems with all of them to one extent or another.

I settled with Moblin for now, but in this post I just found out that I can’t cut and paste with keyboard shortcuts.  While that isn’t a deal breaker for this particular distro, it is going to be rather frustrating ince I use keyboard shortcuts quite a bit. I’ll have to investigate the little section  called “Pasteboard” which looks to be the way I have to copy and paste.  That is not exciting. (I messed up and touched the trackpad and moved my cursor, and since I still don’t know how to type, was still typing away before I noticed the issue. I tried the pasteboard and it copied the text to it, but then there isn’t a way to get it out of there and where I need it.  I’m really going to be annoyed it there isnt something as fundamental as cut, copy and paste in this distro.)

Another negative for Moblin was the install.  If you’re going to give me the option to install it the a partition that I want to and put the bootloader where I want.  That part better damn well work, which obvously since I’m writing this didn’t.  There were partition table errors coming out my ears. No matter how I tried to slice up the partitions between the drives it just wasn’t having any of it.  I like the overall theory of Moblin, which to me makes the NetBook a “Social Networking Platform” with a terminal.

Easy Peasy and Mandriva were just meh.

I’ve ended up rith now with OpenGEU which is based off enlightenment.  I like it so far… we’ll see how it goes.

1 Comment

  • Haobo says:

    Having recently heard a few good thngis about Moblin, I tried it last night: my opinion differs greatly from yours.I just purchased an HP Mini 1010nr which came with WinXP Home, and after testing to make sure the system worked, removed XP.Nearly a minute to boot is just NOT acceptable, for one thing.I tested a few good linux distributions and by default, with NO optimization, Debian 5 (Lenny) booted faster and used less disk space. No working wireless though, since the hardware is not entirely Open Source friendly.I then installed Mepis 8 which is based on Debian Lenny but more amenable to non-open hardware:Wireless worked out of the boxBoot time was a bit faster than Debian which was a good 10 seconds faster than WinXP.I have now tried Moblin’s alpha on a USB pendrive, and even this boots faster than Windows, and pendrive booting is not normally all that quick.The system IS faster and more responsive using Moblin’s Alpha than the installed distro which, again, is faster and more responsive than XP.There are issues, of course: wireless being a big one, and given the lack of support for linux from so many hardware vendors, these are not always trivial.But from the appearance and performance of the Moblin ALPHA, if Intel keeps following the path they are on, Moblin will likely develop a large 3rd party user/developer community and have some easy-fix options to deal with the lack of vendor support.Debian is the same about non-open source hardware, and yet there are many Debian-based distributions (Mepis and Ubuntu for example) that ease the problems.My opinion could not differ more from yours:Moblin is big step forward.

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