I got an Acer Aspire One ZG5 last December for Christmas (1.6 GHZ atom CPU, 1 gb ram, 160 gb HDD). It's been a wonderful little netbook, much smaller than my previous notebook (a dell inspiron 600m... 8" vs 17"). It came with Windows XP installed.
Now, just a bit of background, I maintained a debian box which was running a mythTV server for about 4 years ago, and 2 years ago my main Desktop was running Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon 24/7. In fact, I've used Linux off and on since Redhat 5, so I'm no stranger to linux.
That said, I'm not really one of those windows hating linux users. I've ran just about every version of windows since 2.1 in some capacity, and I've never really disliked it. So, I decided to leave XP on my netbook until it became bloated and unusable, as my Windows XP installs tend to become overtime.
That time came a few nights ago. Somehow my XP install became corrupted, and all my USB ports became unusable. After dicking around for a few hours, I decided that it would be wiser to just wipe my HDD clean and start with a fresh install. Windows had slowed down, and programs like Firefox were running sluggishly.
So, instead of converting my Windows CD into a bootable USB drive, I instead decided to grab the latest Ubuntu live CD. While navigating their site, I noticed Ubuntu Netbook Remix had been released, so I gave it a download.
Been running it for about a day now. My initial reaction - terrible.
For one, I disliked the UME browser - it just felt clunky and obtrusive. This is compounded by the fact that it ran like shit on my netbook, which surprised me because my Aspire One is supposed to be Tier 1 according to the NBR site (meaning NBR will fly on my netbook). Clicking on the UME takes a full 2 to 3 seconds to load on average, and sometimes it'll take 10-11 seconds for it to appear. A quick google shows this is an extremely common bug, and fixing it requires rebuilding the kernel and installing new intel video drivers.
Considering I chose NBR because it was supposed to "just work," and considering it was built for my netbook specifically, this irked the fuck out of me. But luckily, the people at NBR had the good forsight to include a "classic Ubuntu" option where you could use a standard GNOME desktop instead of UME. A few minutes later, and I was staring a traditional desktop, and everything was flying.
To be fair, NBR does "just work." UME might be broken, but just about everything else works great. It even found and configured my built in webcam. It's great - every aspect of my netbook is fully functional, even hibernate (which is supposed to have problems). Dual head monitor support is available right out of the install, which surprised me because normally, setting up Xinerama is about a 10 minute process. It even hot-swap detected my second monitor.
NBR is more than just a "pretty" UME - the updated kernal sports Atom CPU optimization, so even thought UME blows a big one, NBR is still worth running over a standard Jaunty install on a netbook. A few hours spent customizing and tweaking my themes and icons, downloading and updating various programs, and setting up firefox and I'm all set.
After my initial shockingly bad reaction, NBR is running solidly. I increased my swap partition by 2 gb and hibernate seems to come out faster. Bootup time is significantly quicker than with windows XP, and everything is working great.
If UME ever gets fixed, I doubt I'll return to it. I really do think it's a terrible interface (although the always maximized, tabbed window browsing is a good idea for the limited Netbook display).
Beyond the specific netbook optimization, it's standard Ubuntu. If you've never used a linux distro before, there is a slight difficulty curve, but it's been significantly dulled since the days of Redhat 5. Ubuntu has long been touted as the everyman's linux, and NBR really lives up to that billing. Everything works out of the box (except for UME), and installing programs is a snap (as it's been for ages thanks to apt-get and synaptic package manager). I'd say this is probably the most accessible linux distro I've used so far. I let my sister (whom has bare bones computer knowledge) play around with it for a few hours and she had no problems using it. I have a theme which is a mix between Windows 7 and OSX and she felt right at home with it.
I'd recommend it to anyone with a standard netbook (Aspire One, EEE, MSI Wind). Just make sure you switch to classic ubuntu instead of UME.
oh, and some pics (these are pretty big, so I'll link thumbnails):
Anyone else used NBR and have any impressions?