Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 Beta on an Asus EEE 1000HA

For work purposes I now have an Asus EEE 1000HA at my disposal. The earliest netbooks had very small hard drives that were solid state. The man difference in the netbook is that you could call it a 2nd generation one. The main spec differences are it has been upgraded to 2GB of RAM and it has a 160 GB hard disk drive.

Last night I installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 Beta via a USB flash drive.

I must say I'm very impressed. The main differences I see with the stock Ubuntu distribution is that things work 'out of the box' such as the Atheros wireless card, sound, webcam, fancy touch pad, etc... It also has a slick navigation/environment that's designed specifically for Netbooks with smaller screens. All in all, it works really well.

For example, there's a feature of the Elantech touchpad which allows you to scroll up and down by using 2 of your fingers. Impressively that works out of the box with Ubuntu. It's really handy when browsing the web since the keyboard requires the Fn key to Page Up and Page Down. Another thing to note is that this behavior is consistent in Ubuntu. Under Windows, the touchpad scrolling does not work under Firefox but works under Internet Explorer... That's really annoying.

Windows XP Home is the OS that the netbook came with. It comes with a proprietary Asus app called "Eee Super Hybrid Engine" which does a good job power management. Microsoft didn't produce a special environment for the netbooks but Windows XP was released back in 2001 when screens were smaller... So it tends to work fine.

I made some changes to give myself some more screen real estate:
  • Enable Auto-Hide of the task bar
  • Use small icons in the Navigation toolbar of Firefox
  • Disable the Bookmarks toolbar of Firefox

... A few bugs/peeves with the UNR install that I should mention:
  • It resizes your NTFS partition really aggressively. For example, it shrank my NTFS partition down to 12 GB. There's no options to resize it differently... I mean, can I allocate 40 GB to Windows?
  • There is no progress indication that the resize of the NTFS partition is in progress. The graffic just hangs at 0%. I had to fire up a terminal to see that the ntfsresize process was running... I'm thinking this could potentially hose someone's system if they restarted their PC in the middle of this process. UPDATE: I think this is the VERY old Bug 14100
  • I experienced this bug too: 347916