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Linux on netbooks

On Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 9:06 AM, David Kramer <david-8uUts6sDVDvs2Lz0fTdYFQ at> wrote:
> I've been casually toying with the idea of getting a netbook, but last
> weekend I decided I probably will. ?I was at a convention where I saw a
> lot of them, and the screen and keyboards on the newer ones look pretty
> usable. ?I mostly want to use it for note taking at meetings and mail/web
> when traveling. In the "That would be too cool for words" camp would be to
> use it as a MythTV client, but I doubt that's possible. ?I think a 10"
> screen is about right. ?And since it's mostly for note taking, the
> keyboard can't bee TOO contorted from a ful sized keyboard. ?I'm open to
> advice on specific units and brands.

I used to have an Acer Aspire One w/8.9" screen. Nice toy for a while,
but I ultimately got rid of it, as it wasn't really practically
useful. 1024x600 (or even lower on some of the 16x9 10" netbooks) just
plain sucks, as do many of the keyboards on 10" and under netbooks.
The most comfortable keyboards usually compromise keys I actually need
regularly (like pipe and arrow keys), making them awkward to use. If I
were ever to get another "netbook" it would have to be one of the
11.6" ones at 1366x768, with a larger standard-layout keyboard. I was
happy enough with the build quality of the Acer, and there are two
Acer Group systems I'd consider -- the Acer Aspire One w/the 11.6"
screen and the Gateway L110 (iirc). Of course, instead, I bought a 17"
MacBook Pro.

As for MythTV, yes, you can run mythfrontend on them. For most, HDTV
playback is out of the question, unless you have an ION-based netbook
or a Broadcom Crystal HD decoder card and the yet-to-be-written MythTV
support for it. Standard def stuff will play fine though.

> I have an important high-level decision to make; Do I get a Windows one
> and make it dual-boot with Linux, or get one that already has Linux
> installed? ?My wife, bless her, said "You will never be happy with it
> unless you install the Linux distro you want yourself". ?She might be
> right. ?I've been looking at the Ubuntu netbook remix. ?I'm not sure I
> would like the UI, but it looks like one can change that later. ?At the
> very least their compatibility list will be useful. ?Since many of these
> units have 120 or 160GB hard drives, having two OSes shouldn't be a
> problem, and makes it a little more useful.

Stay far far far away from the 4/8/16GB "SSD" in many netbooks, that's
for sure. They are horribly slow. On the cheaper side, a rotational
laptop drive is a much better choice. If you're willing to sacrifice
space (and money) for performance, a true SSD is the way to go. Intel
has a new X25-V model, 40GB SSD for $130 and the OCZ Vertex 30GB runs
about the same cost. Both perform quite a bit better than a rotational
laptop drive.

But what someone else said: battery life is probably going to suck.
Unless you're running the bundled Linux OS that's been tweaked to heck
with non-upstream kernel patches, wacky userspace processes twiddling
bits in /proc and /sys, etc. (This was the case with my AAO's bundled
Linux-based install vs. a Fedora install).

Jarod Wilson
jarod-ajLrJawYSntWk0Htik3J/w at

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