Trying out Moblin got me interested because I found the user interface interesting enough and it seemed to make sense for a netbook user such as myself. The screen real estate is maximized with such a user interface instead of the regular GNOME or KDE with panels and stuff. I found the panel of Moblin nifty because it’s automatically hidden when it’s not needed.
So, yeah, I think it would be cool if Moblin and Ubuntu joined forces and have an Ubuntu Moblin Remix. Turns out that there will be one such experiment which we will see when Karmic Koala or Ubuntu 9.10 is released this October. You could even check the wiki page about Mobile Karmic Moblin Remix.
One of the issues though is that Moblin uses RPM packages and not DEBs. So how now, right? And there are no migration plans for those who want to use Ubuntu Moblin Remix. This is a release that’s made for demonstration purposes. Oh well. I’d still like to try out anyway! Especially when I saw the screenshot on the internetnews.com blog. Of course the screenshot had the usual brown Human theme of Ubuntu, that’s why I am hoping for the best!
Maybe it’s time for a new desktop environment geared towards netbook users. There are a lot of combinations of window managers and docking apps but wouldn’t it be easier if by default, there is an easy to use interface for newbies who happen to be netbook users? Ubuntu Moblin Remix might show that a new interface might be better and this could be the beginning of an awesome netbook future ahead of us.
Possible Linux distros to use Moblin are: Ubuntu, Xandros and Red Flag. Novell also announced a Moblin version of SUSE for Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind. I already blogged about Moblin so you have a better idea of what it looks like, right?Xandros is said to be the best distro for Windows users while Ubuntu and SUSE have a lot of users, especially Ubuntu because of how user friendly it is. So I get the feeling that combining Moblin with these distros could be beneficial. The user interface of Moblin seems to maximize the screen real estate very well. Aside from that, the common tasks and activities are easily seen on the zones pre-defined in Moblin.
Will these netbooks be available within the quarter? I am hoping that Moblin will be polished early next quarter so that more users could get a feel of things there. I’d like to see more feedback about the user interface. Of course it is different from the rest of usual desktop environments so there might be much resistance or acceptance.
Looking for Android-powered netbooks? Acer might be coming up with something. It is reported that Acer is currently working on a netbook running Android. The market will have another choice when it comes to operating systems on the Acer Aspire One.
Interestingly enough, Acer might be releasing the Android-powered Acer Aspire One in the third quarter of the year. And they could probably even have a netbook sale around Thanksgiving, right? Or around Christmas time. A strategic time of release, don’t you think? Especially if these netbooks would cost lower. For Linux users who want to play around with Android on their netbooks, this would be interesting because at least you get hardware that works with the software already. Unless Acer releases something half-baked, that is. I don’t think they would be doing that because their customers could end up complaining.
Somehow, I’d like to see Android on even smaller devices like the Sony Vaio P Series that just looks like a pocketbook because it somehow feels right to me for it to ‘feel very mobile’ due to its size. Or maybe something like a DS Lite or a DSi. The DSi could even connect to wireless internet even with WPA security so I wonder if there’s a way to load Android there for the heck of it.
Curious about Gyy? It is made from renewable sources such as starch and cellulose so it is biodegradable. You could also have optional solar panels that would extend its battery life. And the interesting thing is that it is Linux-powered. This ultra mobile portable computer is designed by iUnika of Spain. However, one shouldn’t expect this to be a very powerful machine. It only has these specs:
- Processor — Ingenic (MIPS) @ 400MHz
- Memory — 128MB RAM
- Flash — 1GB
- Display — 8-inch, 800 x 480 display
- Networking — 1 x 10/100 Ethernet port
- USB — 3 x USB ports
- Communications (optional) — WiFi, ADSL, CDMA, GPRS
- Power — 4-hour battery; optional solar panel charger
- Dimensions — 9.1 x 6.3 inches (23 x 16cm)
- Weight — 1.54 lbs (700 grams)
Maybe a really light Linux distro, like Puppy or Damn Small Linux would be fine on this UMPC because it only has 128MB of RAM. It would be interesting if they could improve on the specs. But for its introductory price of 182 USD and its environment-friendly features, well, this might not be so bad.
The other night, I became curious about Moblin because of the different user interface it has. It was said to be made specifically for Intel-powered netbooks. The user interface focuses on your use of media as well as social networks. Looks interesting? It does. Even if its just in Beta, I really had to get its img and try it out myself.
Screenshot by: Clair Ching.
Other Moblin screenshots here.
Unlike your typical Linux desktops, this one doesn’t have fixed virtual desktops immediately. As you launch the applications you want to use, you will define the zone it will go to.
Some things I immediately liked about Moblin:
- The menu/task bar is automatically hidden when you are not using it. This way, the screen of the netbook is maximized for the apps.
- Icons on the menu/taskbar look sleek and clean. And you could easily see what they stand for.
- Conventional keyboard shortcuts to navigate from one zone to another are still CTRL-(arrow keys to the left or right)
What didn’t work on my machine:
- Videos and audio did not play on my Acer Aspire One 150Bb.
- Some of the icons got me confused. When I opened a PDF, the reader had a caret-like icon on the upper right hand corner. I thought it meant that it will maximize the app but it didn’t. It closed the app. In the file manager/browser, the caret-like symbol meant that it will go to the directory that’s one level higher.
- There was also this issue about not having a power button or even a log out option. I was wondering how the heck I would stop from using the live USB. I ended up pressing the netbook’s power button.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience for me to use Moblin. I guess some of my worries include the availability of the applications I use a lot as well as adding an extension monitor. (I wasn’t able to test that.) I plan to check out Moblin again when the official release is available already.
School’s starting in my country in two weeks’ time and now I read about Dell Latitude 2100s as K-12 friendly. Interestingly enough these nifty netbooks have rubberized casings so that it won’t easily slip from the hands of students. And the units are quite colorful too.
Some nifty features:
- optional touchscreen
- webcam (say, “Hi, Teacher!”)
- labeling window - personalize your netbook so they know who owns which unit
- network activity light that warns teachers if their students are using the WiFi connection instead of focusing on their studies
- you could get it with Ubuntu, instead of Windows
- 3-cell or 6-cell battery
- option to choose between an SSD and a HDD - if you know your learners might be better off with an SSD, why not?
If you’ve been imagining a future with students all using laptops and netbooks, it would have to be designed specifically for them. Not just the software that they will use but the design of the unit itself. I think that Dell’s considerations in the design they have are well thought of.
Here I am crossing my fingers that more schools will embrace the Linux-powered units!
In case of an emergency black out or if you’re going on an extended trip in the remote areas with practically limited electricity, then you might want to have a netbook which can run on 8 NiMH AA batteries. It’s not very difficult to get such batteries, all tihngs considered. And since the targeted price is less than 200 USD, this will be affordable to more people. This is manufactured by NorhTec and I can’t help but be amazed at how they accomplished this. This product is set for release in July. It is called the Gecko Edubook.
Of course, I find it awesome that you could opt to have Ubuntu installed by NorhTec. Aside from that, the hardware is interesting because you could use refurbished laptop drives and SD cards as storage media. Either way, it will be cheap so a lot more students could possibly buy one.
I hope that Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora Core, Mint, Mandriva, etc. will not have problems running on this netbook so that its buyers and users will fully enjoy the experience of Linux. For those are in developing countries, I do hope that the could also afford to get one for each household so that their children will learn more about technology, especially free and open source software.
Netbooks are always fun to carry around. Though I am using mine as a work machine, most people I know use it for surfing and watching videos. And now there’s news of an Android-powered netbook out there but with a hefty price tag of $250. This is a bit expensive, comparatively.
So what do you think about this? Phone UI meets netbook. Yay or Nay?
In a way, it might be the simplest user interface to use for any netbook and it will reinforce the ‘appliance’ paradigm for it. On the other hand, for people like me, netbooks are mini-laptops. Though, of course, if they want to sell more netbooks with a different market in mind, this makes sense to me. If we treat netbooks as mini-laptops, we would get similar problems on laptops that are concerned with hardware aside from user interfaces.
If netbooks were to be marketed as appliances then the manufacturers must provide better support for them, IMHO. At the moment, I can still read/hear the frustrated netbook owner’s reactions when they are using Linpus or another Linux distro on their machines. They really think that they should have better support anyway. So it might be an interesting experiment to see Android on netbooks.
Looks like good things are up ahead for us Acer Aspire One users who have installed or upgraded to Jaunty Jackalope/Ubuntu 9.04 I’ve just fixed the sound problem and LED for wifi issue with just one package which is
linux-backports-modules-jaunty so that was such a happy happy thing!
The notes for the Acer Aspire One are straight to the point so it was easy to see the things one needs to do to make certain things work like wifi and sound. I suppose I was a bit lucky that after installing linux-backports-modules-jaunty I had no more problem with the sound. Now I can plug in my earphones to my netbook and my laptop speakers are not activated unlike right after the upgrade.
One of the interesting things of note is that ext4 is said to work just fine. Oh well, I just upgraded so I am still on ext3 but I’d try to see if anyone I know personally know is on ext4 and get feedback from them.
Easy Peasy seems to be interesting enough for me to try it out — if I could download the iso without a hitch. It’s going to take me more than an hour to get the iso and I just hope that everything will work fine. The review on Cooking with Linux makes me want to try it out. It sems to have Skype — something I’ve never really gotten to work quite right.
Things that got me interested in Easy Peasy:
- Skype (the need to call up people abroad makes it necessary for me)
- multimedia codecs
Also, the blogger mentioned that Easy Peasy seems to have support for Acer Aspire One. It’s a big deal for me, of course. And if ever this is useful information for friends of mine using the Asus EEE.
Hopefully I’d be able to test it within the weekend so I could post my own review and some screenshots for you to see. If you’ve got your own reviews, feel free to comment so I could link to your blog entries.