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My not-so-extensive review of Ubuntu Netbook Remix

TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
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):
th_Screenshot-1.png

th_Screenshot.png

Anyone else used NBR and have any impressions?

TheSonicRetard on

Posts

  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I'm using it on a Samsung Q1.

    Most of problems I've had relate to the fact that the screen on this thing is only 480 pixels tall, and there are a few things that are simply too tall for the whole window to fit on the screen, even with maximus. The other problem is that Maximus doesn't always play nice with apps that have a fullscreen mode (notably Opera).

    Other than that, everything works out of the box, the Netbook desktop works well with the touschscreen, and you can set up the accessibility options and cellwriter to allow it to be used without a keyboard.

    It is also much, much, faster than WinXP on it's 900MHz Celeron M and 512MB of RAM.

    japan on
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    japan wrote: »
    I'm using it on a Samsung Q1.

    Most of problems I've had relate to the fact that the screen on this thing is only 480 pixels tall, and there are a few things that are simply too tall for the whole window to fit on the screen, even with maximus. The other problem is that Maximus doesn't always play nice with apps that have a fullscreen mode (notably Opera).

    That is a major annoyance I agree. Maximus is just a hack anyways... I wound up disabling it right away. I'd prefer a built-from-scrach solution.
    Other than that, everything works out of the box, the Netbook desktop works well with the touschscreen, and you can set up the accessibility options and cellwriter to allow it to be used without a keyboard.

    It is also much, much, faster than WinXP on it's 900MHz Celeron M and 512MB of RAM.

    Yeah, thats something I didn't really touch on - my Aspire One is FLYING. Ubuntu NBR is a lot faster than Windows XP, aside from UME.

    Speaking of which, did you have any problems with UME?

    TheSonicRetard on
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I actually use UME almost all of the time. The standard desktop is really difficult to use without a mouse attached, and I've had a couple of problems when switching between that and the classic desktop. On one occasion it seemed to kind of "stall" halfway, so neither the GNOME environment or the netbook launcher were active. Restarting didn't fix it, I had to switch to a terminal runlevel and delete configuration files until it came back up.

    japan on
  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    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.

    Is that because UME uses composting or something like that? Because that's an issue in normal Ubuntu 9.04, too. A lot of OpenGL-related stuff was broken, and they didn't even let you activate desktop effects. There was a massive Intel driver renovation in the works, and they rolled with it instead of using the previous (actually somewhat functional) drivers. It was a very poor choice, imho.

    Frem on
  • TheSonicRetardTheSonicRetard Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Frem wrote: »
    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.

    Is that because UME uses composting or something like that? Because that's an issue in normal Ubuntu 9.04, too. A lot of OpenGL-related stuff was broken, and they didn't even let you activate desktop effects. There was a massive Intel driver renovation in the works, and they rolled with it instead of using the previous (actually somewhat functional) drivers. It was a very poor choice, imho.

    No clue, but it was so slow it was unusable. No big loss by me, however, because even if it was working as advertised, I'd still have stopped using it.

    TheSonicRetard on
  • DHS OdiumDHS Odium Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I tried the netbook remix and did not like it. I converted straight away to a full Ubuntu desktop.

    Moblin looks cool, as does Android for netbooks (though Chrome will replace it).

    DHS Odium on
    Wii U: DHS-Odium // Live: DHS Odium // PSN: DHSOdium // Steam: dhsykes // 3DS: 0318-6615-5294
  • Palmer EldritchPalmer Eldritch Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I have never installed Linux before and have used it very very little. When I get my netbook, should I install netbook or vanilla?

    Palmer Eldritch on
    Dr+Dopefish.png
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Might as well try both.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I have never installed Linux before and have used it very very little. When I get my netbook, should I install netbook or vanilla?

    If you install netbook there's an option to switch from the Netbook launcher to the standard desktop.

    I think netbook is missing a couple of applications (GIMP is the only one I can think of) but you can easily install anything in the repositories with Add/Remove.

    japan on
  • VistiVisti Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Doesn't Crunch have a netbook version that people were raving about some time ago?

    Visti on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Descendant XDescendant X Skyrim is my god now. Outpost 31Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Visti wrote: »
    Doesn't Crunch have a netbook version that people were raving about some time ago?

    Yeah, it's called Cruncheee. I'm using it right now on my AspireOne and I love it. It's extremely fast and light and I've never had a problem with it.

    Really though, the only difference between Cruncheee regular Crunchbang is that it has fewer apps installed by default (mostly internet apps and nothing else) and it has a few netbook optimizations enabled from install. It also (obviously) uses openbox, so it doesn't need any fancy-schmancy interface.

    Descendant X on
    Garry: I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time I'd rather not spend the rest of the winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!
  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Hmm. that's too bad. My wife loves her Aspire One, but the wireless keeps going bonkers on her with the default linux install (Linpus or something?) I was thinking that I'd install UNR for her, since the interface is similar to the default one that she knows/likes, but obviously not if it's broken.

    TSR, did you find a decent tutorial for how to fix the UME launcher?

    Monolithic_Dome on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • FremFrem Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    There is a fix. http://timashley.me/?q=node/7

    Unfortunately, it's a kernel issue, which means that the issue will return if you upgrade to the newest kernel after installing those packages. :-(

    Frem on
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