Netbook + Linux = ?

17 Feb

Netbooks have come a long way from the tiny EeePC that first debuted almost two and a half years ago on the 16th of October 2007, from that day the world was taken by storm by these sub-sized laptops and their potential.

Especially the GNU/Linux community who have tried to port the Linux kernel from microwaves to the PS3 and everything in between. Seriously they have tried to port the kernel into some really strange things just try googleing it the answer may surprise you. In fact its fairly fascinating how far into the market the Linux kernel has penetrated, such as digital watches or microwaves.

After successful ports of the Linux kernel to Desktops and Laptops the community turned its attentions onto these new netbooks, a device with unlimited potential, being the first netbook on the market the EeePC got tremendous exposure by enthusiasts who immediately started to port their distro of choice onto the little machine.

Linux Distributions for EeePC

Keyboard / Console Mouse X11 Graphics Audio Ethernet Wireless 802.11b/g Wireless 802.11n SDHC Cardreader UVC Webcam
FreeBSD Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
OpenBSD Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
NetBSD Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes with patch Yes Yes
Arch Linux Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Debian Yes Yes, as PS/2 or ImPS/2[87]; no fine tuning of Elantech touchpads without a kernel patch Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Windows XP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
openSUSE Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mac OS X Yes Yes Yes out only No Yes Yes No Yes

Source: Wikipedia

Along we come to fall 2008 a year later and countless other companies have seen the profits to be made by making netbooks, and jumping in as part of the craze I got myself a Acer Aspire One (AAO).

The specs are:
Processor: Intel Atom 270 1.6Ghz
HardDrive: 120GB
Ram:       512Mb
OS:       Windows XP Home

Now being a windows user I have never paid much attention to the Linux distributions, but I was curious to try and run one but refused to do so on my desktop so AAO was going to be my test machine. After spending countless hours on google trying to figure out how to dual boot on the AAO as it does not come with a CD/DVD drive I need to borrow an external DVD drive.

I installed Ubuntu 8.10 and spent a couple of days trying to get the wifi drivers to work I found it too much work and gave up as the settings refused to work despite the excellent guide posted on the Ubuntu website and switched to Fedora 10 with which the wifi worked out of the box.

Installing Fedora as with the Ubuntu setup was a fairly simple process the only thing I needed to be cautious about was not to overwrite my Windows XP or do a full system format. After that the install pretty much took its own course without have to keep pressing OK or choosing options like in a Windows setup.

Being a novice GNU/Linux user I was fairly suprised by how easy I found it to get around and do my tasks, also the boot time is significantly faster on Fedora than Windows XP but the battery life is about half an hour shorter. The only complain I have about Fedora and other GNU/Linux Distros are how complicating installing software is, you need to download the RPM or Source Code and the either compile the sorce and install or install the program directly, I found the process too cumbersome and annoying especially if I need to install dependencies.

But apart from that its a seemless transition from windows to linux and I found a few resources online with which to learn linux on check them out its a great beginners resource even more experienced users will find it helpful.

The Shuttleworth Foundation: Learn Linux

This is by the visionary behind Ubuntu its a perfect beginner guide and has sections on System and Network Administration as well as a section on Shell Scripting.

It also has an interactive training environment (forum) so you can connect with others studying as well. I haven’t tried it yet as I found google a faster help.

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