My poor little Netbook has been gathering dust since I picked up my shiny MacBook Pro back in April. Soon after receiving it I left it as a beta device for some random Linux installs I was trying out. I eventually settled on trying both MeeGo and Jolicloud for a bit which I last wrote about some months ago.
I decided to poke around and see if there were any new updates and tools out there for both OS’s. Unfortunately, MeeGo seems to be languishing with no new updates to it’s preview build but lots of announcements for new hardware formats that the OS will support such as BMW Group’s line of autos.
On the Jolicloud front I found that I longed for the OS to use some of my hardware in a more useful way. In its effort to provide a repeatable experience across a large slate of devices, they neglected to actually allow the OS to interact with the hardware in a more useful way. I had loads of web apps, shell based front-ends, but not a lot of actual useful applications. One of the more strange bugs was certain apps would be installed through the JoliCloud loader, but show up as slightly opaque even after a reboot. Dropbox was one of those apps that I couldn’t get to work properly no matter what I tried.
So I finally decided to wipe it. Ironically, I went back to an OS that was on the device when I first received it almost 2 years ago now: Ubuntu. Ubuntu is one of the nicer Linux distributions around and from what I’ve read about it, one of the most stable and easiest to use coming from a Windows environment. Aside from a horrible name for the most recent release, Maverick Meerkat, version 10.10 is very stable and runs fairly well on my aging Netbook.
Setup was a breeze– I did the USB stick install through Windows and was up and running in about 15 minutes. I did experience a bit a hiccup with proprietary wireless drivers (Broadcom) and had to hard connect over Ethernet in order to get new drivers. Once I did, everything was fairly straightforward.
As far as the Netbook build goes there’s a new UI called “Unity” that includes support for larger icons and some included service-like apps that make it easy to get back online and tapped into your social streams: Twitter, IM, Email, and other “broadcast” services are bundled in right out of the box.
So far its been very smooth sailing. I think my biggest realization is that I just don’t need a portable device this small and wimpy anymore. I can get by with my iPhone, and I guess I’m one of the few people left who don’t mind toting a 17″ laptop around everywhere. I’m expecting an iPad under the tree this year for myself so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be fooling around with this thing.