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10 reasons Linux should be your netbook operating system

Some users believe that Windows is the best netbook OS. But others - such as Jack Wallen - think Linux is a much better fit. Check out his reasons and see if you agree.

Some users believe that Windows is the best netbook OS. But others - such as Jack Wallen - think Linux is a much better fit. Check out his reasons and see if you agree.


I've read countless Microsoft-funded "studies" trying to persuade me that Windows is already dominating the netbook space. According to these studies, Linux might as well just take a curtain call because its act is over in the world of netbooks. That is simply not true. If it were, Asus wouldn't be selling netbooks with Linux preinstalled.

Linux is not going anywhere but up in the netbook market. Here are 10 reasons why I can say that.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Netbook hardware is the perfect match for Linux

One of the biggest arguments people use for Windows over Linux is that "You can't play games with Linux." Well, guess what? You can't play games on a netbook (outside of Web-based games). And there are tons of other software types you can't (or won't) use on a netbook. No Photoshop, no Quark, and none of those proprietary apps that people seem to need to do their day-to-day business. Nope. Netbooks serve a small purpose -- to let you get online -- and they do it well.

Linux is the perfect networking operating system. It plays well with other OSes, it's secure, and it's fast. But one thing any purchaser of a netbook should know is that space is prime. Although a fresh installation of Eeebuntu might take up nearly 2.8 gigs, you can quickly trim that down using the Synaptic package manager by removing the applications you won't be using. Windows XP with SP 2 takes up 2.5 gigs of space so the tradeoff there is minimal.

2: Netbooks require a secure OS

If you are using Windows XP on an ultra portable piece of hardware, you are a mobile risk for viruses. And you won't be installing Norton's or McAfee on your Netbook -- especially if you are using a flash-based storage netbook. With Linux, you won't need those tools in the first place. Your Linux-based netbook can travel anywhere you want and you won't have to worry about picking up viruses or spyware like you would with a Windows-based netbook.

3: It's all about the interface

If you have limited screen real estate, why not use a desktop interface designed for that real estate? Instead of using the standard desktop metaphor, the Eeebuntu Netbook Remix desktop introduces an interface that is perfectly suited for the desktop size offered by netbooks. This interface makes the netbook experience far more efficient than any Windows interface. Sure, it's not what you're used to. But it's cleaner, faster, and more user-friendly, and it will soon become familiar to you. And this interface isn't different just for the sake of being different. It's obvious that the interface was well thought out and aimed at the new PC user as well as the new netbook user.

4: Your netbook can be more than just a slow laptop

When I purchased my last netbook, one of the first things I did was install Eeebuntu (over the purchased Xandros Linux). Why did I do this? Because Xandros is a limited operating system, whereas Eeebuntu is a full-blown Linux distro that happens to install on an Eee PC. When using Eeebuntu on a netbook, you really feel like you have the power of a full laptop at your fingertips. You can even install a full-blown LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server on your netbook if you like.

5: Linux will keep your cost down

One of the reasons why netbooks are so popular is that they're cheap. Where, other than ebay, can you find a PC for near or under $300? And soon, the magical $200 price tag will be reached when Freescale releases its Linux-only ARM-based netbook. Remember, Linux is open source, so any software you are installing will be free. Because of the cost of the Linux operating system, the cost of netbooks can continue to fall. If Microsoft were to attempt to use Vista or Windows 7, the cost of your average netbook would not fall. And any extra software you want to install - or any antivirus or firewall software you'll want to use when you're running a Windows operating system on your netbook? You'll pay for it.

6: Linux offers more flavors to choose from

There are plenty of Linux varieties to choose from.  Even with netbooks, you can go with the basic Xandros or even try the full-blown 3D Elive+Compiz -- yes, even on a netbook! I have witnessed the 3D goodness of Compiz running on a netbook and it's impressive. Of course, it's not for everyone. But that's okay, because there really is a Linux distribution for everyone. Just be careful when you make a choice: Some of the distributions (such as Eeebuntu and OpenGeeeU) include the array kernel, which has wireless for netbooks built in by default. Some of the others will require you to take a few extra steps to build in wireless support. And with some of these distributions, there are different sub-variations. Eeebuntu has the standard release, which is just like a standard Ubuntu desktop, along with the Netbook Remix, which is a special desktop designed with the Eee PC user in mind.

7: You'll gain speed

I have used the same netbook running both Windows XP and Eeebuntu, and there is no comparison. The Eeebuntu desktop was noticeably snappier than the Windows XP. The Web browser and mail clients opened nearly twice as fast on the Eeebuntu install than they did on the Windows XP install. Of course, there are differences between the various Linux flavors. For instance, the Xandros distribution is slower than the Eeebuntu distribution, but the Xandros is noticeably faster than OpenGeeeU and Elive.

8: Improvements will come faster and more often

Just like any software in the open source community, the Linux netbook operating systems will continue to improve at a much faster rate than the Windows operating systems for netbooks. For one thing, more people are working to improve the experience. It is well known that open source bugs are found and fixed far faster than Windows bugs. This will help improve the Linux netbook OS far faster than anything Microsoft can manage. Open source users are more apt to submit bug reports, and open source developers implement patches faster. These patches and bug fixes will not come in the form of Service Packs (as they do in Windows), which are released infrequently and in large chunks. Because of this you are less likely to fubar your network when updating a Linux-based netbook.

9: The next version will work

Are you sure Windows 7 will work on your Eee PC? And if it does, how well will it work? You can be sure the next release of Eeebuntu will work on your Eee PC because it was made for that hardware. From release to release, you never know what a Windows operating system will work on. Vista was a total bust on the netbook. Windows 7 has yet to be released or to even prove it can work well on the netbook hardware. And XP is eventually going to meet its demise. So why take a chance on purchasing hardware that Microsoft will make irrelevant with its next release? Instead, rest assured your Linux OS will continue to work whenever you upgrade it.

10: Support is better (believe it or not)

Finding support for a Windows-based netbook isn't as easy as it is for a standard laptop or desktop. The nice thing about the Linux netbook community is that the developers are interested in making sure the OS works well and are quick to listen to their users. So you know if you have a problem with your Linux-based netbook, a quick search on Google will most likely find a simple solution to your problem. And if you don't find an answer on Google, you can go to the Web site of the distribution developers, where they'll either have a support forum or a contact form (or email address). Getting help on your Windows-based netbook will require a call to the company that sold you the netbook or a call to Microsoft - or you'll have to hope your problem has already been reported and fixed so you can find it on Google.

Give it a shot

I am always amazed that people think, even for a moment, that Windows is a better OS for netbooks. If you are curious, try a couple of Linux distributions on your netbook. Not only will you be thrilled with the difference, you will most likely find yourself having to install that same OS on your friends' and family's netbooks. And you'll be all the happier that you did.


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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

64 comments
Maxi3W
Maxi3W

I was referred to this article as I had asked a question on another Tech site "How do I make my NetBook faster" and amongst the many replies I was told that running Linux (mainly Ubuntu), it would speed it up. I already had Ubuntu 12.04 but then decided to install Mint 12 as I prefer the look and feel of it (I have both Win7 & Mint on my NetBook). I'm now going to work on building the Mint up with programs etc... But now that Ubuntu 12.10 is out, I may shift back so I am next reading the article here on 12.10. I have to admit that Mint was faster than Win7 but I am so used to windows it is somewhat hard giving it up. The 'Ready Boost' suggestion has put my Netbook on speed yet I will continue working with Mint should anything happen. I'm very glad I was referred here!

three6t
three6t

I would never ever recommend a crappy Linux user interface. Linux is is suited for severs which concern uptime and security, Win8 is the epic master of UX and UI , and Linux pingu and panga should stay in the zoo of server world.;-)

L_user
L_user

I cannot wait to get a netbook and wipe out Win 7 to install Linux on it.

Mr_Tech
Mr_Tech

Here are 10 reasons why one should avoid Linux: 1. Terrible and inconsistent GUI and behavior among apps 2. Slow and sluggish GUI - when resizing windows and moving toolbars 3. Poor quality software, pretty much everything KDE/GNOME has offered is inferior to Windows & Mac OS X and this includes apps such as AbiWord, GNUmeric, KOffice. 4. Downloading drivers for your hardware from apt front ends or similar apps is confusing. For example, downloading an nVidia driver is confusing as you are presented with many different versions of the driver. 5. The whole desktop shell experience (KDE, GNOME) is pathetic. Dragging taskbar icons in GNOME is especially poor as the spacing between icons is not equal. There should be equal spacing between icons and this should be created automatically rather than manually. 6. KDE4 is the biggest joke of all times, it is slow and sluggish (but it does look good). It's been so many years and we are still unable to drag and rename menu entries from within the menus. Windows does this since Windows 95's IE4 desktop update. It gave us ability to drag, rename, and rearrange icons from within the menus 7. GNOME is plain, ugly and dull. Huge GUI elements such as buttons, checkboxes, dialogs, windows, combo boxes. A dialog box with three/four elements will occupy a large portion of the screen. 8. The only way to rename a file in GNOME is via properties. Hitting Enter after you've renamed your file does *not* close the dialog. Seriously GNOME, wtf? You have to literally click Ok. With GNOME you also cannot second click a file to you rename a file from within the icon. (KDE does this) 9. Business apps: Programs such as Photoshop, PaintShop Pro + other multimedia programs will probably never have native Linux native versions and the so called "equivalent open source programs" are pathetic. Don't even mention GIMP. 10. Bad way of thinking. I was reading a story, apparently the GNOME developers have decided to "hide" icons from their buttons in order to shrink the button sizes. Instead of working on GTK and finding where the problem is, they've decided to hide the problem. Overall? Bad desktop experience. I would love to recommend Linux because it is free, but I cannot.

billfranke
billfranke

Your arguments cut no ice with me. I need to use Windows because nothing in Linux is compatible with MS Office 2003. I use my Eee PC 1000H for work, not for Web surfing and email checking and whatever else netbook users are generally believed to do with their netbooks. I don't know where you guys get all your information about those of us with netbooks, but I know that nobody has asked me what I do with mine. In addition, I don't want to bother learning a new OS that has trashed my desktop once (when I ran a live CD of Unbuntu -- 8.4, I think it was) and failed to function on most other occasions in my Eee PC. I also must confess to running a full-blown version of Win XP Pro SP3 on my Eee PC 900, one that originally came with Xandros Linux and a 20 GB SSD (2 GB RAM) cut into a faster 4 GB boot drive and 16 GB storage drive. I never had a major problem running XP on that machine, even with its slow Celeron 900 MHz CPU. I use Zone Alarm Extreme Security, which has its own AV and anti-spam/spyware modules, but just about everything else, except, of course, for MS Office 2003 (and 2007 on my Eee PC 1000H) is freeware for Windows. And I'm running Win7 RC1 on my Eee PC 1000H (80 GB HDD, 2 GB RAM). Terrific in most respects (I don't like a few of Win7's features, though). People who like to tell me what OS I should run on my PCs are no different from all the other missionaries in the world. They're arrogant bastards who think that they have some special pathway to the Truth. That's crap. Everyone should run the OS that suits their needs, not the OS that agrees with the biases of someone suffering from priapic frontal lobe tumescence because he's got a hard-on for that OS. You should have written an article titled "10 reasons Linux is my netbook operating system". Then your credibility would not have disappeared when you opened your trench coat and flashed your fanboyism.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

With an Asus Eee PC 1000HE, Windows XP Home is the best OS. Why? Because all the special (and useful) function keys work, wifi works, bluetooth works, the memory card reader works, display options work, USB devices work, etc. It's the only time I've ever recommended XP Home, but it is the right OS for the Eee. You could replace Home with Pro if there is some feature in Pro you really need. Before putting the Eee into real service, I tried it with Vista, Win7 RC, and many different Linux distros, including all of the Eeebuntu variants. None of them got enough things right for me to even think of switching. The best of the alternatives was Win7. As much as I'd like to proselytize Linux with an Eee, it is more important to me to have access to all the features in that great device. Windows delivers; Linux does not.

Capt_Skippy
Capt_Skippy

Well for starters the "average" computer user wouldn't feel toastie warm with Linux as with a Windows based OS. But I do agree that in terms of security and stability, that Linux blows Windows way out of the water, I think we can ALL agree on that. In terms of viruses, I always say that the level of protection needed on a desktop/laptop is proportionate to the user. If you have a user that clicks on EVERY email and then some, then it doesn't matter what you run, OS wise, you're screwed.

ololol
ololol

After installing ununtu netbook remix on Acer Aspire One 110, I've opened Firefox and two tabs in it. When I opened Pidgin later, CPU usage in idle was about 50%, switching my 2 tabs in FF took about 10 seconds. Speed? Hehe.

aapinko
aapinko

Personally, I think Linux should be on ALL computers! RT www.anon-web-tools.net.tc

esavard
esavard

I agree with you 10 reasons. Linux is the fast mammal and Windows is a dinosaur... who do you think will win in the end? ;)

goblin77
goblin77

Im currently running Windows 7 on my EEE PC 1000h netbook. Everything supported, aspect ratio looks good. I even played Might of Magic 4 on my Windows 7 netbook and use it to work from home. I have tried Linux on my netbook twice only to find it didnt meet cover all my requirements. So for me Linux was not the best OS at all :)

hgreen
hgreen

I run Backtrack and Win 7 on my EEE PC 1005HA. I tried EEEBuntu but was dissappointed with the lack of driver support for the ethernet interface. Windows 7 had full driver support out of the box and even the ACPI drivers from Asus worked. Its laughable to say there is a "right" or "best" OS for netbooks. Its all about the user and how they plan on using their netbook.

stgben
stgben

I'm dual-booting Windows XP and the Ubuntu Netbook Remix on an ASUS EEE PC 1000H right now, and I have to say the only thing holding me back from using UNR all of the time is the battery life. With Windows XP I can get about 5 hr 45 min with WiFi disabled and screen brightness all the way down. The same settings barely net me 3.5 hours on UNR. I'm not sure if I have missed a setting or something, but I need as much battery life as I can get when at school for 8-10 hours a day.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Those are the worst kind of arguments to give. It's like a highschool grade paper kind of reasoning. How is it: cleaner? faster? more user-friendly?

MrJenkins
MrJenkins

1. Windows networks perfectly with ~93% of computers as ~93% of computers are running Windows, and many computers running Linux that expect to share files via a network use Samba which is the default Windows file sharing protocol. My netbook has a 80GB hard drive so OS size isn't an issue. 2. Installing Avira Personal is free and has a negligible performance decrease. Linux can get virus/spyware, an attitude that it is invincible is the attitude of someone who is vulnerable. Safe habits are just as important as OS security. 3. The netbook remix interface discourages users from multitasking. It is an easy and intuitive interface to use, but due to the way it cripples productivity it isn't for everyone. 4. Xandros might be a limited OS compared to Eeebuntu, but that has nothing to do with Windows. Neither XP is not a limited OS. You can even install a full-blown WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server on your netbook if you like. 5. Choosing Linux over Windows to keep the cost down when buying a netbook is a valid point. Stating that users must pay for any software that they install other than the OS is not. Although hard to believe, there is a lot more freeware available for Windows than there is for Linux. Many people run a completely legal Windows install with the OS being the only software needing to be purchased. 6. Windows has a large degree of extendibility. Be it themes or fancy cube desktop gimmicks, Windows can become unrecognizable with a bit of customization. Many of the "flavors of Linux" you speak of are merely an extended Debian/Ubuntu. 7. A comparison of speed between Windows XP and Eeebuntu when running the same programs will have Windows in the lead. It is a fact that Firefox support on Windows is much better than Firefox on Linux. If you do not agree with this, try installing both Eeebuntu and Windows XP on a P233 with 64MB of RAM. Neither will run well, but XP will run better. 8. Microsoft release security updates as frequently as required and in small "chunks". A Service Pack is merely a collection of already released security updates packaged with new OS features. 9. Windows 7 RC runs very well on all netbooks I have tried. Windows XP is supported for another 5 years, no one needs to switch from XP to 7 until then. Also, have a look at the Ubuntu support forums for people suffering from upgrading to 9.10. Or the Fedora support forums for more people upset with the fact that they cannot do 3D on their ATI card with F11. Many Linux distributions suffer serious user incompatibility issues when they release a new version. 10. Support is better in the sense that usually you just have to look at the support forum for your distribution of choice to find solutions to your answers. But it is worse in the sense that there are so few people using your distribution. If someone has a problem with Windows, there is such a large user base that it is a safe bet that many others will have had this issue and found a fix. Simply because the user base is larger, the chance of someone else having a similar problem is larger. Linux is not the solution for everyone. It is the solution for me, but I would not put it on my fathers laptop because there is nothing for him to gain by using it. And that is the real issue. Cheers, Avid Linux User with a MSI Wind u100.

bluewiretek
bluewiretek

Unfortunately most if not all flavors of netbook linux have pretty rough implementations of Broadcom wireless support. Especially with the numerous netbooks that use those, namely Dell for one. But not limited to them either. While I can play with Linux all day at times, I really don;t want to "assemble my car before I drive it" type analogy. I really liked the super fast concept of Presto Linux... But could never get my wireless to work right and certainly not with any WEP or WPA/WPA2 type encryption..

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

As this was written in 2009 it would have been impossible to make mention of anything relating to Windows 8.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Installing my Geforce 8800 on Mandriva was a total of "you have an nvidia, would you like to use the proprietary driver?" - yes.. done.. I just finished installing support for the Creative XFI family of soundcards. It was faster and more painless than the Windows driver install yesterday. I'm back to having great audio from either platform. K3B blows most disk writing software out of the water.. actually I've given up burning disks through a Windows machine since it's just easier to grab my notebook and cur the disk through K3B. I'm surely not going to tell you one platform is universally better than any other as it depends on what the platform needs to do.. I just find some of your points rather subjective or unsubstantiated. I'd be curious to know what distributions you've tried to result in such experiences.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Out of curiosity, what functions are you finding not compatible outside of Office 2003? We have it here at work but our needs are rather basic. Also, how did you manage to trash your system with Ubuntu liveCD? Did you click the install icon? Not all distributions are equal so I wouldn't fault the family of unix like OS for an issue in an older version of Ubuntu. I'm not going to tell you that any particular OS platform should be used for your needs. I'm just curious about these two points.

Dogcatcher
Dogcatcher

I agree with your comments that Windows is a better OS on the Eee, but I think you're being a little hard on Jack. He is not trying to force Linux upon you. Rather, he is trying to get his readers to consider Linux, and to that end he presents some good arguments. Ultimately, we decide individually what OS helps us get the work done, makes handling e-mail easier, etc.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

I have 3 acer aspire ONes netbooks. ONe with XP, one with Windows 7 and one with Linux. I can use our ZTEC 3G broadband cards only with XP and 7... not linux... BTW the windows xp acer hasve 1.5GB and runs netobjects, photoshop, paint shop pro, swish, media studio, xara3d, etc... everything smooth....

Senrats
Senrats

I have a 1005ha and had a problem with the wireless drivers. I installed Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha4 and it worked fine.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I read that and thought; "wait, there is some very good quality retail software for open source platforms." Granted, what an average user is going to want on a netbook is probably not going to get into type of software that is at retail costs. I can't see an average user needing Nessus3 or someone who can afford that not simply using a Lenovo X series sized machine.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I'll be honest, I only skimmed the article, but most of the time when a Linux fan says "free" just replace it with "libre". forget costs. It may cost, it may not.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Cruft doesn't build up in the same ways and to the same degree through constant use. Generally the buildup is lingering config files in one's home directory after an uninstall and easily cleaned out if needed. Installs are much cleaner through a repository package manager given a full distro like Ubuntu that offers software selections. Uninstall is much cleaner through a repository package manager. uncheck the box and hit "apply" or hit your command line (Win+R if you will) and type "aptitude purge programname"; whammo.. done. Both install/uninstall is much more flexible. I've purged and reinstalled the system logger while the machine was running causing no effect to ongoing website visitors. I'd be down for a half day reinstalling the full Windows platform or last good recovery image given the same task. Heck, given a tarball source package, one can even have it installed as a .deb for an clean uninstall later. With Windows, installer apps are anything but standard and installation tends to leave crap behind. On the other hand, osX install is even easier; download .zip file equivalent then drag the program icon from it too your applications directory. Uninstall leaves much to be desired but it has to be the easiest install process currently out there. cleaner process and management. faster since it's all provided in the repository (what any average user would want anyhow). more user friendly given "Add/Remove Programs" adds more than a short list of OS options off the install media.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I mean really. most people arguments for windows is "its easier!" sounds like a two year olds argument to me.

kirovs
kirovs

Dude, where did you get the 93% number from? Neverland? Performance wise- are you for real? I mean you can really choke LINUX if you load everything you can think of, but in my experience it takes 50-70% of what XP needs in terms of RAM. The only hog on LINUX is not FF (it runs just fine), but Flash. Install Flashblock and you are fine. Yeah, freeware on Windoze? It is most of the time malware. Exceptions are things like gimp, vlc, ff. "If someone has a problem with Windows, there is such a large user base that it is a safe bet that many others will have had this issue and found a fix. Simply because the user base is larger, the chance of someone else having a similar problem is larger." Given the non-technical nature of the user base I strongly doubt this is a valid argument.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

1a. CIFS/SMB is still a cleartext protocol. If you transfer files too and from network shares; I get that data easily. If you protect the shares with a password; I get your username and password then break it without a great deal of work. If you use a third party authentication to avoid the LM/NTLM Windows native hashing; I get your username then take a little more effort to break your password hash. It's all there in the open being sprayed all over the network. 1b. Windows is a one way relationship with all other major platforms. I can SSH into an osX, BSD or Linux based platform to change settings or run wonderfully powerful software through a terminal. I can scp or sftp data back and forth between these platforms. I want to push a document up to my wife's osX machine; scp and there it is in her documents folder. I want to mount a directory tree on any of these other machines (ie. network share); sshfs does that. Heck, I can do all this too and from my PDA. A GUI app is the desired need? SSH does that also, I regularily run Firefox (installed on my desktop) from my notebook sitting on my couch in another room. I can open Mandriva's GUI admin tools through SSH and have the graphic goodness on my local desktop. With Windows, WinSCP and Putty help but you have to be working from the Windows box. If you want a graphic app from the Windows machine, you'll be needing the full weight of Remote Desktop or similar when all you really needed was the program display. Sure, Samba helps since Windows won't become compatible the other way. CIFS/SMB is nothing to be proud of though. 2. True, all platforms can be effected by malware though too different extents. I run AV on my Linux based machines more for the purpose of not passing problems on to the Windows machines I have to interact with. When I do have to deal with an infected Windows machine, the first thing I do is cut the power and boot a more malware hostile OS. Avira liveCD incidentally; Avira does good AV within the freely available options. 3. I can't comment as I haven't used the remix desktop. If it's like the maemo desktop, it's more about one app on screen at a time though many running. With a machine that size this isn't unreasonable. Crippling would be only allowing three or less programs open at once. 6. "Debian/ubuntu" - Ubuntu is a fork of Debian so it's more like many distributions are extended Debian. Mandriva has netbook installs which makes one an extended Red Hat. I'm not sure how close Mandriva is too the Red Hat roots though other than being an RPM based system. The different flavors are what it's all about though unless one can config there own platform out of the fork parent. 7. getting a safe WinXP install in under 64MB of ram is an amazing thin in itself. I'd be interested to hear more about how one does that as I have a few RAM limited challenges on the go at the moment. I've got WinXP SP3 down to around 300 MB ram but can't seem to get it lower without killing required processes. With an OS meant to be mobile and networked, less than SP3 is not a possibility. (I really would be interested to hear more about how one does WinXP SP3 in under 64MB of ram.) 8. Patches, yes. Version, not so much. Upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7; It's always a complete whipe and reinstall to the newer version "upgrade" installs don't work unless the latest ones have greatly improved. Upgrade from Debian 4 Etch to Debian 5 Lenny to Debian 6 Squeeze; use the normal package updater, change references of "etch" to "lenny" in repository list, use the normal package updater. I bumped my notebook from Lenny to Squeeze in an afternoon; no required drivers or isntall CD.. just the repository list change and "aptitude update && aptitude upgrade". I'd love to see Windows upgrade to the newer major version through Windows Update as a rolling distribution. Now that would be providing benefit to the end user. 9. Win7 is what Vista should have been though both don't yet live up to the Longhorn promises. We'll see how Win7 does later this month and over the next quarter though it's already got a few "features" MS chooses not to address. Still, it may be the best Windows since 2k (if the love of 2k over XP is any indication of it's quality). 10. support depends on the distribution. If it's a fork of Ubuntu or Debian than there is a lot of support to be had. Xandros, not so much. At least support solutions for one distribution can often work or lead one to the solution in another distribution. Heck, ubuntu and Debian solutions are pretty interchangeable. I've even found solutions for Ubuntu that where easily modified to fix a Mandriva issue.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I gotta ask: Why would you want to run a database or web server on a netbook, regardless of OS? The processor can't handle any sort of transaction load, the wireless connection is going to be a huge bottleneck to the throughput, and you've completely sacrificed the mobility. I could stick 15 clowns in Volkswagen, but nobody's going to enjoy the ride.

pjwvieviwdhy
pjwvieviwdhy

I have a laptop with a Broadcom wireless chipset. To get wireless working in Ubuntu, I plugged it in to my router and the Restricted Drivers Manager popped up. I clicked on Broadcom B43, and clicked Activate. It downloaded the drivers and I was done. Not really that hard, and no command line necessary. It works fine with my WPA2-encrypted network, and I get download speeds over 1MB/s. (megabyte, not megabit) Not sure when the last time you tried Linux was, but maybe you should give it another shot. :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With Debian Lenny, I had to grab two or three packages then run a command which automated the rest of the setup. With Debian Squeeze, I had to grab firmware-iwlwifi and it was done. The delay was actually me going looking for a howto on what the next steps where.. turns out the next stap was "now connect to your wireless network"; WPA2, AES painlessly. Mandriva was as easy as this in 2008 already; easier as it detected the wireless and carried on. I can't speak for the netbook distributions specifically but I can't see why a vendor provided distro would have issues with the vendor provided hardware let alone a full distro like Ubuntu having issues these days. Netbook hardware is already old enough for the delay in support where hardware vendors refuse to recognize non-MS OS.

Tom-Tech
Tom-Tech

1) If you live in the UK and get your broadband via Sky Linux is a real pain in the arse to set up with it. I rang their technical support to be told that Sky don't support it so couldn't help me. I have heard anecdotally that it is possible, personally I couldn't be bothered with the effort and just forked out the extra for Windows instead. 2) What is the deal with this (dangerous?) myth that Linux doesn't get viruses? Of course it gets viruses, it's just that hardly anyone uses it so it's much more viable to write malware for Windows machines instead.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

So... is it Linux or Broadcom's fault. Atheros has Linux developers working for them, so find a netbook with an Atheros chipset (Acer Aspire One, for instance). If you don't know what you are talking about, don't post. just shows everone how ignorant you are.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

I bought an Acer netbook last year. Came with crippled Windows (XP Home). Hated it. I tried gOS, that was OK, changed to Ubuntu Netbook, I wholeheartedly LOVE it! I'm not a Microsoft Hater. Loved Win 2k back in the day, XP is alright, Vista is well - Vista. Windows just doesn't belong on a Netbook. As a user, to me, it just doesn't feel right. Ubuntu on the other hand is speedy, has a bunch of useful apps, and what truly surprised me was that my Sprint wireless broadband USB was recognized and worked like a champ. This closed it. I nixed XP Home, Ubuntu found a new home.

pjroutledge
pjroutledge

I'm a big fan of netbooks and can't wait to replace my work laptop (unlikely - my employer has a Microsoft thing). And my experience with wi-fi on netbooks so far has been excellent. Wi-fi has worked on all of the following combinations straight away either out of the box or after installation, as appropriate: Asus 701 and Xandros Asus 701 and Eeebuntu (on an SD Card) Acer Aspire One and Windows XP Acer Aspire One and Ubuntu Netbook Remix Acer Aspire One and OpenSuse 11.? (probably 11.1) Acer Aspire One and Ubuntu 8.10 (I think, might have been 9.04) Using WPA at home in all cases, but also using public hotspots. So it's disappointing to read about your experience. I would have to disagree with the "most if not all flavors" claim though, just because my own mileage has been great. Cheers,

tech10171968
tech10171968

Linux-based OS's have made some serious strides in recent years regarding driver implementation. That being said, however, one of the *FIRST* things I still do when looking at purchasing a machine or peripheral equipment is fire up Google (or my irc client) and research the item's Linux compatibility. When it comes to netbooks I really don't even trust the manufacturers because of the half-a$$ed manner in which most of them threw Linux on their netbooks without really tailoring the OS to the machine or its peripherals (I have a serious theory about that, but that's a whole other topic of discussion). Besides, Broadcom and Linux have a long, well-documented history of not playing nice with one another.

Mr_Tech
Mr_Tech

Ok, for some weird reason Ubuntu 9.04 and the previous Alpha, refused to recognize my nVidia 9650MGT card on my Asus n50VN laptop so I had to go manual and that's what I saw in the program manager. Normally you would have to go to the 3D Effects dialog to enable them and it will download them for you. When I say it refused to recognize, I am talking about the "Hardware Drivers" section being empty/blank. Normally you would have the nVidia drivers listed there but even there it gives you two options but at least the recommended one is labelled as recommended. As far as the sound drivers and burning apps, I don't believe I mentioned that :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Might be worth asking them for support help with the 3G hardware on the machine they sell with a Linux based platform if it's not an after market addon.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I LOVE OSX installs (as long as it is a dmg and not an installer). I wish a Linux distro had something like that as well as the package manager system. If i had to pick between a package manager or OSX style, I would pick OSX for an "after the system" installs, but since I use Arch and not a apt/yum distro, I wouldn't give up my pacman/aur combo for anything. (you should check out arch, once you learn the AUR, you will wonder how you got by installing from source without it) Windows isn't even in the same century as Linux or OSX in this regard.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I can think of a few reasons: - development on the go without network connectivity - demonstration without asking "oh, can I pop on your companies network for a moment" - portable pentesting like a rogue webserver and little bit of arp poisoning (sure, a professional has access to more powerful hardware but sometimes it's about small and nonthreatening) As for the Volkswagen, there's a joke about 15 laywers and a cliff.. hehe..

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

I know a few programs require sqllite or bsddb (the things you learn from LFS) and something like lighttpd. So technically, on Linux, minus PHP, you have a LAM. :)

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

okay, with one, I don't know anything about that deal, so I can't help. about two: Okay, you are right. Linux (nor OSX) is immune to virus's (viri?). the biiiiiig difference comes from the fact that Linux is by far more secure than Windows and stuff that the Windows OS takes for granted (everything runs as admin at all times (pre-Vista)) is a no-no in the *nix world. Virus's are very few and far between and, if you are using the OS right, are nigh on impossible to actually crash your whole system. And stuff like keyloggers and the like are next to non-existent. While I disagree with the security through obscurity ideal (i mean come on, 64% of internet facing servers are Linux), i do think that the *nix structure is more secure. Now. I can see Ubuntu having problems. Have a program in GNOME just ask for the sudo password and the keys to the kingdom have been handed over, but noone has seen to do anything as far as I know. What is great is that on *nix, it takes a user being stupid to actually cause problems. Using Windows (albeit without protection) is all it takes to get a virus.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The myth that Linux, osX or any other platform doesn't have malware is definitely a dangerous one. The myth that it's all about popularity doesn't help it either. The architecture is different to put it simply. Where a virus can easily run rampant on Windows and Apple has put effort into leaving osX wide open to exploitation, other platforms are naturally hostile environments. Malware has a much shorter lifespan because of the higher rate of discovery and patching. When malware does get in, it has to break out of the user account which is not easy on a well designed platform. It then has to break into higher privileged. It's effects and and time to live are severely reduced. If we focus on browsers alone, Windows actually takes a step up above osX. MS has been forced through public embarrassment to put sandboxing around the browser where Apple has only recently demonstrated an interest in a secure OS (beyond marketing spin). We'll see how the next osX version shakes out but so far, they've been detracting from the inherent security of Posix like platforms. On the other hand, Linux folks get upset over the reduced security in Ubuntu let alone larger decisions. BSD folks even more so as platforms like FreeBSD and OpenBSD take it very seriously. In the end, it's not the number of attempts which does rely on market share to some degree. The real measurement is the success rate of those attacks and how fast discovered vulnerabilities are addressed by the platform provider.

amoeba
amoeba

The latest data I can find is from early 2006 for 2005. Kaspersky Labs has Linux virus' doubling to 863 for all of the year and Windows with 11,000 for the last HALF of the year. Plus, as most users of Linux do not run as root/administrator, those virus' at most infect the user only and not the entire system as Windows does. Now virus' can reside on all file servers (Windows, Linux, Unix, et al) and pass them along without being infected. Of the two systems (Windows and Linux) I would never connect to the internet without virus/malware/spyware protection with windows (even with strong passwords and a firewall device), but would with a patched Linux system. Silly? Dangerous? Maybe, but far less of a risk than Windows is. [Edit] Would I provide a virus scanner on Linux that was acting as a file server and mail server for Windows boxes? Sure, no sense in infecting a network.

bluewiretek
bluewiretek

I appreciate the constructive criticism you offer with the expert advice of "get rid of your netbook and buy a different one". Truly helpful. Maybe some of us haven't totally embraced the Linux religion yet. I grew up doing VMS/MVS/AS400 even DOS.. So working with a black screen and little white/green/orange letters and numbers doesn't bother me in the least. But I choose not to deal with that if I don't want to.. Don't confuse this with not having a clue please...

bluewiretek
bluewiretek

So who should play nice? Broadcom or the Linux folks? Not starting a war, but a long history of issues, (as I am reading as well) isn't good for either side IMHO. I just want my Dell mini 12 to work with Linux easily is all.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I think Ubuntu is part of your problem though. While I like much of what Connonical has done to promote the platform family in terms of public awareness and freeing multimedia codecs, it's not the distro I'd choose first. I think it also explains a number of your complaints. My mention of sound drivers and graphic setup under Mandriva was in response to your finding nvidia driver installs confusing (point 4). During and after install, it's very easy to setup with barely more than answering Mandriva's question; community developed or proprietary? I haven't done a *buntu install outside of virtual machines. In past I've read that it was just a setup script that automated it. With a quick search, I found this tarting point: "Upon initial installation and after the first reboot, you will be prompted whether to use the current proprietary nVidia drivers. If you wish to use them, follow the prompts. You can also upgrade to the current drivers from: System -> System -> Hardware Drivers " http://ubuntuguide.org/wiki/Ubuntu:Jaunty#Install_Latest_Nvidia.2FATI_drivers Not sure how well it works but I also wouldn't suggest that this limitation of Ubuntu justifies claiming that all linux based platforms have this problem. Ubuntu does some things well but it's not the top of the stack for hardware support. My mention of K3B for burning was in response to your point 3 and poing 9 about any software provided being of less quality than Windows or osX. K3B is fantastic for disk burning while Amarok does media libarary management very well. Firefox is no different between Windows and *nix platforms, Thunderbird is solid on both platforms. All platforms have bad and good apps so one can't simply say anything GNOME/KDE is inferior to Windows/osX. I have a business need to burn .iso to disk and K3B has yet to fail that task while various Windows burning programs have. For point 5, KDE3.5 has never given me grief.. it gave me a very clean desktop and task bar. Nextstep's warf bar didn't have a Windows equivalent until Vista's desktop applets which are not still not the same. Enlightenment did graphic makeup wonderfully without requiring a high end GPU along with also providing the warf bar. I'm actually giving KDE4 an honest shot right now due to being the default in Debian 6. It's not as bad as expected but I have to suspend judgement and keep my list of notes for a few weeks still. GNOME I have very little experience with and not anything recent but I find the KDE vs GNOME stuff to be more subjective in general. For business apps, I have a few that have no Windows or osX equivalent. One can't simply say that all non Windows business apps are inferior. It depends on the task being performed. Your point 10 "bad way of thinking" attributes decisions made by the GNOME developers too any platform that happens to be based on the Linux kernel. This is a gross generalization. I also don't follow GNOME closely enough to know if it was simply hiding icons on buttons to avoid fixing something else or if they have deeper justification for doing so. If Windows does all you need then fantastic. if you are interested in exploring other platforms then look beyond Connonical's distributions. Given your list of desired functions, a few regulars here could suggest distributions to look at. They are not all equal.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I just installed the latest alsa sound with Creative XFI support. It took less than five minutes and works perfectly so far. Creative is also going about it the right way. From the Alsa folks: " [Testing] [PCI] Card delivered to developers. Completely new architecture. Creative have supplied a data sheet to developers. Development work has started.Preliminary support need testers.The patch is now merged into sound-unstable GIT tree topic/ctxfi" http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Vendor-Creative_Labs Good on you Creative. You should have a link to this from your support site where your old driver source is linked for download.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Mind you, cross platform support is high on my priority list when buying and only really outweighed by there being no other option. It's an addon card though so I can see why Asus does not support it. Maybe one day the hardware vendors wills top treating alternative platforms like third class citizens. (Right now it's Creative's lack of support for the XFI line of audio cards. Boo Creative.. support your damn'd hardware! (there was no other choice for stable gaming audio))

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

Acer says they do not support any ZTEC 3G cards in LInux and they cannot provide support... Providers (Telcel, Iusacell - cell providers) are unable to provide support for linux as well. If you say you have linux, they hang up the phone. zero support.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

download .img, double click, drag icon to apps download .rpm, double click, click "yes, please install" I've not needed to double click a .deb through X yet nor do I even have a graphic manager installed beyond aptitude so I can answer specifically about that. I'm told it's the same though; double click the downloaded .deb (ie. .img) and in it goes. It isn't as graphically slick as the drag and drop method in osX though due to showing a bit of a progress bar while the package is expanded.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

For heavy dev work I'd want a nice big screen also. If a netbook where my development platform, I'd at least have a nice big screen and keyboard at home for stationary work. I can see some site geeks wanting to muck about in transit though. Also, if your doing a lamp on netbook you can hit that from any local machine. Your webserver can literally be carried too and from work if it's not ready for a public IP or preferable to keep it off public networks. I wouldn't say it's the optimum way to work though either. I can run apache on my PDA but I'm not going to do any site work in Maemo through the button pad. Sadly, I haven't found a reason to justify installing it even; no content that needs hosted on such a mobile platform yet. Good to have the option though if I find a use.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but if I was doing those things on a regular basis, I'd rather have a machine with some screen space and a more powerful processor. Just me, I guess.

Bernie S
Bernie S

But none of them were found in the wild. And oddly enough, Linux/BSD folk have learned to ignore Kaspersky's "Linux virus" claims. Back then, Wildlist.org listed "Linux viruses" in the category "other", and every one they identified was to be found only in a virus lab as an experimental test of concept. Since then, the "other" category has been dropped entirely. The only successful Linux virus (ie. actually spread in the real world) hit about 100,000 systems that ran a Russian niche distro, that by default ran as root user. There have also been a few malware (generally worms) that have successfully targeted specific applications (such as specific, generally outdated and/or unpatched) versions of the Apache server) rather than the OS itself. All the other successful "Linux viruses" were actually Windows viruses that had "Linux" in their name. While a Linux virus is not actually impossible, the Linux eco-system is inherently rather resistant to virus propagation, and the reality is that "Linux anti-virus suites" are used to protect Windows networks from Windows viruses.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Some handle the risks better than others but absolute immunity is gone the first time you boot the system up.

Tom-Tech
Tom-Tech

You're certainly less likely to get a virus running Linux or OS X than you are running Windows, I just dislike the gross simplification that other operating systems are somehow defacto "immune" from viruses and that only the great unwashed running Windows ever suffer from them.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

between the "linux religion"(as you put it) and the "anti-linux religion"? There is none. the people for linux make stupid remarks and the people against linux make stupid remarks. And I did not mean you are ignorant about Computers, but, by your own post, you showed you haven't a clue about Linux. Maybe before you start bashing other people's OS, you should actually, and here is a novel idea, learn about the OS. I know. may want to take a breather after that idea sinks in.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The older cards are known to be an issue. At that time, the kernel developers (where the support is written into the OS) all but and then begged for the minimal specs to write support for the hardware. I believe Broadcom's response was; "we can't release that information due to patents". The end result is that I buy wireless cards known for good support across platforms. In terms of distrubutions pre-installed by the hardware vendor, such issues should have already been dealt with. When you go it alone with an after-market distro install, issues are usually the hardware vendor's imposition.

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Well if broadcom would open their drivers, then this wouldn't be an issue. Read "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" for more information on why I believe that. Besides, no point in arguing with this dude, he is obviously in the "if i have to do anything more than be an idiot, I won't use it! NANANA! I can't hear you!" group.

tech10171968
tech10171968

IMHO the fault lies with Broadcom and/or Linux users themselves. It shouldn't be a kernel hackers' responsibility to write drivers for someone else's chipset; that being said, no one would expect a manufacturer to write drivers for a particular OS if the perceived marketshare isn't big enough to make it worth their while (IOW Linux users should at least let Broadcom know they exist). BTW I found something which may help you: http://www.tipsandthoughts.com/?p=4