Friday, March 20, 2009

Something for the Whiner (Actual GNOME Content!)

I presented at Open Source in Mobile USA in San Francisco last week on different approaches to mobile device development--pretty successfully, I guess, from the reaction, although maybe people were applauding because they were just happy that they were finally getting to go to lunch.

At any rate, one of the more interesting things I saw at OSiM was a selection of netbooks running to 1.0.1 version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix, courtesy of Canonical. On the strength of that, I ran over to the Best Buy in Capitola and picked up an HP Mini 1030NR for a little over $300. It came with "Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition for Ultra Low Cost PCs" (no kidding) pre-installed, and I booted XP exactly once before I slammed UNR into it. It works flawlessly: installation was smooth as silk, WiFi, Bluetooth, trackpad, etc., all work perfectly, no tweaking needed. It's a pretty impressive device, given the price, and--for the part of my day that consists of email and web stuff, i.e. a fair amount of it--it's just fine. I guess if I had an immediate critique it's that the "remix" seems to mainly consist of a different desktop launcher and a patch that maximizes all app windows and changes the tab structure. I'm going to give it a few weeks and a fuller review; I also plan to try the Moblin v2 alpha on it as well, and will report back on that, too.

Netbooks are an interesting kind of interim device; I suspect that they may be displaced by actual "mobile internet device"-style tablets as time goes on, but I guess we'll see. It's definitely a very handy sort of a device to have when I travel, I expect, and I may well leave the MacBook at home on my upcoming trip to London, but we'll see...

4 comments:

Physicow said...

Any particular reason you bought a Windows netbook instead of a Linux netbook? If people don't buy them, they won't continue to exist!

Lefty said...

Only that every single one that they physically had in the store came with XP pre-installed. I specifically asked whether they had any Linux ones, and they didn't...

(Psst: they won't "cease to exist", people can always make their own, quite straightforwardly. I understand what you're saying, though. Basically, if I'd ordered one with Linux over the web--and it would have been SuSE, so Id have installed UNR over it anyway--what I'd have denied Microsoft I'd have given to UPS, and I'd have had to wait four days to get the device in the bargain...)

Physicow said...

I installed over xandros; the fact that it comes with Linux instead of Windows is a *huge* difference IMHO. It generally indicates that the hardware won't be hostile (particularly ACPI).

Plus, SuSE will take your money and turn it into OpenOffice or kernel or GNOME or KDE development; MSFT will take the money and sue people, e.g. TomTom, or help compel more vendors to go Windows-only, or to bribe more congresscritters.

Kalle Vahlman said...

FWIW, the maximizing thing is not a patch, it's done with a separate daemon:
https://launchpad.net/maximus

You could simply use devilspie with metacity though, as I did with my Gentoo installation.

While I did like the launcher, I have to agree that the remixing is quite lightweight currently.