Remixing My Netbook

Long time readers will know that a couple of years ago I became the proud owner of a EeePC.  It was the original netbook on the market, a EeePC 701, 7inch screen, 4Gb SSD and all.

And therein lay the problem.  The default Xandros installation provided a good frontend, but to be honest, the update mechanism wasn’t great, and the updates I had managed to install on getting the netbook had pretty much pushed the storage capacity to straining point.

That was fine at the time, but 2 years on, not having been able to install updates was a bit concerning. Not to mention some websites were starting to complain about the outdated version of Firefox.

So being the good little Ubuntu fanboy I am, I thought “sod it, lets give this Netbook remix a whirl”.

Wow. Was I impressed. Now, when it comes to installing on a netbook, you’re thrown an immediate problem. No CD drive. However, Ubuntu’s download page came with great, simple instructions. Download the iso image, insert a USB stick of sufficient size, then download and run a neat little utility that sets up the USB stick with the equivalent of a liveCD. From there, just use the USB stick on the netbook like you would a normal Ubuntu LiveCD to test and install the new OS.

I was really impressed by how painless the whole process was. Granted, I knew from my laptop what installing Ubuntu was like, but I’d been braced for the netbook install to be more complicated.

Once it was installed, the good experience continued.  Canonical really have done a brilliant job of converting Ubuntu to work within the confines of a netbook.   The launcher interface is clean and easy-to-use, and apps make the most of the available screen space, running maximised with the OS’s application menu bar doubling as the usual title bar for applications (and so containing things like the close button).  Software updates and installation are handled just the same as on the main version of Ubuntu, and getting Chromium installed was simple.

Given the tight confines of my netbook (the previously mentioned 7inch screen and 4Gb hard disc) it would’ve been easy for me to run into problems, given how quickly the netbook market evolved to use higher specced machines, but nope, Ubuntu Netbook Remix runs as easily as it installed.  All the hardware worked straight out of the box (so to speak) and I’ve now got the reassurance of knowing all my software is being kept up-to-date.

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9 thoughts on “Remixing My Netbook

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  1. There always has been, but once you’re approved once it remembers it. I guess the name change caused it to kick back in for yourself 🙂

    I’ve not seen the Maverick version yet, but the Lucid one’s been great. What changes have they made?

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  2. Huge changes. It’s practically a new platform.

    It feels like a fresh attempt at netbook targeted Ubuntu.
    Maverick’s Netbook Remix will utilize the new, and maturing rapidly, Unity interface which Canonical has been hard at work on over the past year.

    Unity consists of a top panel (which has all it’s objects locked at the moment, unfortunately, but once released, they’ll undoubtedly be the usual customizations and tweaks made) and a Dock (though we’re not allowed to call it that =p) on the left side of the screen, maximizing vertical space. On maximized windows, the window decorations are removed, as is the titlebar and menubar. Like on a Mac, the menubar’s options have been moved into the top panel (File, Edit, View etc etc) so Maverick is really emphasizing efficient managing of screen real estate.

    Unity has a very flashy app and Place browser integrated, which you can find images of and youtube videos, though only the videos really do it justice.

    For the moment, Unity is still unfinished, and attempting to install it on Lucid can be difficult and haphazard. Everytime I have tried to test it myself has resulted in a somewhat infamous ‘white screen’ bug, or a flashing variant, which is just nothing but a flashing white screen upon login. I’ve learned this has something to do with the version of ‘Mutter’ installed on the system, and getting an unity-incompatible version of Mutter when you try to install Gnome-Shell.

    It should be fun. =]

    It seems Firefox doesn’t like my name change, I’ll have to edit my formfilling options. xD

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  3. Video showcasing the upcoming Netbook Remix interface, Unity.
    It’s a little outdated, the default gtk Light themes (Ambiance and Radiance) have been changed (for the better) for Maverick.

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  4. I’ve posted far too many comments here, but I felt I had to let you know this. :p
    There’s been a lot of exciting news lately about Maverick and the Linux world, including the upcoming uTouch framework for opensource multi-touch in Maverick, a rewritten Compiz including Aero-snap like features (drag window to side, maximize to half the screen, etc) and the tickbox option to include third party propriety software in the installation process (eg, MP3 codecs and flash)
    .
    Here is a screenshot of that part of the installation window, note the altered gtk window control.

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  5. That all sounds really cool. I’ll need to give the video a watch later on, but I hadn’t realised it was such a substantial re-write. I’ve been hugely impressed with the current UI, so if this improves on that it’ll be very interesting indeed.

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  6. I’m not able to look at the video yet, but the screenshot I’ve just seen looks interesting indeed.

    With the dock along the left hand side, it reminds me very much of window managers in the past (such as Afterstep or my old favourite, Window Maker).

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