Around June 2009 I purchased a Linux Acer Aspire One (Linpus Linux) and a pay as you go broadband dongle. The idea was, whilst I was away on holiday I could keep my net presence, conduct a little blogging and have something to do on the quiet evenings.
It was lucky that I tested the machine before going away as the dongle and Linux did not play nicely together (despite claims to the contrary by store staff). To cut a long story short, I ended up returning the machine and exchanging it for a Windows XP version.
To be fair to Microsoft, the dongle worked fine. That would be expected though since it came pre-loaded with Windows software which monitored your usage (to enable you to pay-as-you-go). I have to say though, from first boot, performance was appalling and I thought at first I may have a defective unit. After speaking with other Acer Aspire owners it transpired that the performance I was achieving was perfectly “normal” and apparently acceptable.
My Linux use told me that this wasn’t normal or acceptable, however it worked and I was leaving for holiday the following day.
After the holiday, that netbook pretty much sat in a drawer. Later I would get an Android Smart Phone which was more than acceptable for surfing on the go (albeit on a small screen) and in fact when I was away this year, I published articles & chatted in IRC with no problems.
For Xmas this year we will be staying with relatives, since my Android phone is quite happy to tether (note to the few WP7 users out there) or make itself a wi-fi hotspot, I would like to continue my net presence with a screen of a more comfortable size and a real keyboard. The purpose of this article is to take a look at a few Aspire One “friendly” distro’s and then make a decision as to the best one for my Xmas break and the netbook itself. It is wholly unacceptable to me to wait around 4 minutes for Windows XP to finish booting and loading ….whatever it is loading, I also refuse to wait nearly 2 minutes for Windows XP to shut down and it’s certainly unacceptable having to spend time worrying about securing, scanning, monitoring Windows XP because unlike Linux, Windows is the target (and victim) of so many malicious attacks/pieces of software.
So where to begin? I’ll briefly list the specs for the Aspire One (which in my view from previous experience is not suitable for XP) : Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz, 1gb DDR2 RAM, 16 GB HD (SSD), Intel GMA 954GSE Graphics.
During this review, Ive looked at Kuki 2.8 (399mb download) , Jolicloud 1.1 (696mb download), #!CBL 10 (644mb download), Puppy 5.11 (129mb download), Salix 13.1 (670mb download), Peppermint Ice (latest Spin 429mb download). But the first question I had was – I wonder who’s idea it was to think that this machine loaded with XP is viable? If we believe Microsoft hype, Windows 7 is shipping on everything today and allegedly its suitable for “everything” but if XP (which was released around 2001) strains the specs of a piece of hardware released about 6 years later, then I shudder to consider the performance Windows 7 will give on even more recent netbooks.
What am I looking for?
For the purposes of this “experiment” I’m looking for the distro to offer me the following:
1. Fast boot time / shut down
2. Punchy performance (although compared to XP, a ZX81 would perform like a high-end machine)
3. Quick, out of the box set-up.
4. Completely stable.
5. A varied and relevant selection of software defaultly packaged.
So which distro will meet these requirements? Which distro will I settle on? Read on to find out!
Installing Linux on an SSD device?
This is simple stuff, so many of you can skip this part.
Installing Linux distro on an SSD device (with no DVD/CD drive) is rather simple. For the purposes of this article I used UnetBootin, which is available for both the Linux and Windows platforms. If you are a Linux user then you should find it in your repo’s, but if not then following the link above will take you to the homepage and the latest version.
Firstly you need to ensure your USB stick in plugged in and mounted (for Linux users). Once that is done, it’s merely a case of downloading the liveCD .iso of your choice or using Unetbootin’s built in feature of allowing you to choose a Linux distro from its list (a net connection is obviously required) In the case of this article we have the .iso so its merely a matter of clicking the box “disk image”, then selecting your .iso file of choice. Once you click ok, after a short while your USB stick will be a fully functioning “liveUSB”.
The Acer Aspire One allows you to choose your boot preference when powering up by pressing F12 then simply selecting your USB stick.
Your Linux distro will now boot and give you the option to play around with it in a live environment or install onto your SSD.
It really is that easy and using the USB stick in this way allows you to try numerous distro’s without risk of hosing your system.
Conclusions – Who wins and why?
I’ll start with Salix 13.1.2, I’ve used this previously (and deployed it to others) finding it to be a speedy, solid distro. Xfce is the desktop environment and has certainly been one receiving my praise time and time again. Unfortunately for the Acer Aspire One, Salix doesn’t work, freezing up the keyboard and mouse on boot. This may well be a fixable issue, but since this article is based on the premise that I need something “out of the box” and quickly, then Salix had to be left behind. It’s a shame since Salix is a distro I’ve been impressed with on many occasions. It should be worth noting though that it may very well perform superbly with another netbook, but as far as my Acer is concerned, lets move on.
Jolicloud 1.1 has been met with much praise. There have been references to the ChromeOS and how Google should be worried, there are many people saying great things about Jolicloud. Lets look past the worries and implications of some about trusting your data to the cloud and merely concentrate on what Jolicloud delivers: A desktop environment based mainly in the cloud.
Jolicloud installed and ran out of the box perfectly. I cannot fault anything here. For me, it has a very Ubuntu/Android feel to it and performance wise its up there with best of them. Cloud based services are integrated well within this distro and there’s the option to install a plethora of locally based apps if you like. I did love the web-based Invaders game which I count as the highpoint to this distro, because I didn’t like it.
So why in the midst of all the praise Jolicloud recieves did it not suit me? Why when it performs well and installs perfectly did I not instantly fall in love with it?
The first thing that annoyed me with Jolicloud was I was forced to register. I could use a Facebook login if I wished, but since I don’t use Facebook I had to create an account and give away my email address just to try the thing.
Once logged on, the desktop displays the apps with large icons, nicely arranged and ready to use. Chrome booted quickly but then this is where I started to find more things which I disliked. It appears (and please someone correct me if I’m wrong) that Chrome in JoliCloud does not allow me to have my bookmarks bar at the top of its screen like I have on my desktop. It appears I have to go into the bookmark manager separately. Now I did try to confirm this by booting the liveUSB again whilst writing this article and I still can’t find a way to do it. I would ask anyone who does use Jolicloud to enlighten me here, but since its not the main issue I have with Jolicloud, I’ll move on for the moment. NOTE: This has now been resolved. The option (which I obviously haven’t needed to enable for a while) was not obvious in the Chromium menus.
The main issue I have with Jolicloud comes out of a matter of personal preference. When surfing or working online with my Android I am very happy with the UI. I don’t expect a desktop experience on a phone with a screen the size of a packet of cigarettes. On the netbook though, I intend that to be a “computer home” away from home. I like it to not only vaguely resemble my desktop, but also give me the flexibility and control too. I did not get that feeling with Jolicloud, apps defaultly maximize and appear as an icon in the top left corner of the screen. There does not seem an obvious way to resize windows and maybe have the option of having a few apps on the same screen. I did not attempt to look at usage of system resources since it was obvious to me that I wouldn’t be considering it.
I’m sure there is a massive market for the Ubuntu derived Jolicloud, for me though it was far too much smart-phone and no feeling of real control – Maybe that’s my hangup though. I’d love to hear your views and I should say I did like the way Jolicloud presents different desktop wallpaper to you, a sort of scrollable slide show towards the bottom of the screen, it was a nice touch. There are quite a few “nice touches” with Jolicloud that probably make it very appealing to some users. Unfortunately, Im not one of them. Had I spent more time with Jolicloud, I may have grown to like it (and resolve some of my irritations with it).
Puppy 5.11 was always on the cards to be tested. I have always been impressed with both Puppy and Puppy Arcade on the desktop, covering this issue many times on OpenBytes. As was expected Puppy had excellent boot times and in answer to a question posed to me on the TechBytes show – Yes it does bark! Everything was detected pretty much out of the box, although with Puppy it does seem to take a more “around the houses” approach to setting up my WIFI with various options, install scripts for doing it. Maybe that’s just me though and it has to be said Puppy has no issues with any of the hardware involved. Packaged with Midori as default is a “no-no” for me. I don’t find page rendering as quick as other packages on the same hardware and comparing like for like I found Chromium (unscientifically) flies past Midori.
After playing with the Puppy for a while, this would certainly be a contender for the distro of choice and I found with a browser, an IRC client and a few other utils running, only 16% of the CPU was being used and about 1/3 of the memory.
Next up was Crunchbang Linux, which uses Openbox DE. Great stuff here. It flew, as much as Puppy did and whilst I’ve made no attempts at exact timing, they would both blow XP out of the water on boot times. A plethora of applications available on install and performance being very fast, #!CBL detected my hardware without issue and was ready to operate. I can’t really fault #!CBL on the Aspire at all.
Kuki 2.8 was next on the list. An Ubuntu based distro which in the developers words aims to be a replacement for Linpus. Sadly it doesn’t seem to have received much of an update since around February 2010. As was stated by the site it was pretty much ready to go out of the box and being yet another Ubuntu derived distro, you can almost guarantee success. Being packaged with Midori as default, again this was something I would seek to replace quickly and certainly any claimed advantages are not obvious to this Aspire user in the face of Chromium.
Finally, I took a look at Peppermint ICE (September 2010 spin). Regular readers to this site may recall I’ve covered Peppermint quite heavily, with this being the Chromium based outing complete with Openbox 184.108.40.206 DE. Peppermint receives high praise on Openbytes not only for its punchy performance (and a trusted Ubuntu basis) but because of its subtle cloud integration which allows users to experience as much or as little of it, without “throwing all your eggs into one basket”. The result of this is a solid platform with the scope to be anything you want it to be. Whats unique about Peppermint ICE is the SSB written to integrate cloud based services and apps into your desktop. We experienced Peppermint One’s uniqueness with Prism and here Kendall Weaver has developed a SSB with Chromium. Boot and shut down times are good (around the 40 second mark for boot up and 3 seconds for shut-down), everything was detected without fault and there is of course the knowledge that its derived from the solid Ubuntu.
I think its obvious that I am going to choose Peppermint ICE as my recommendation for the Acer Aspire One. For me it was a combination of performance, cloud integration (in a non-committal way) and also aesthetically pleasing. It is also rather festive that the distro I settle on during the Xmas break is one with ICE in the title!
During the course of this article I had many suggestions – thank you to everyone who contacted me, I wish I had the time time to try them all.
You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes
If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.
and other items of interest regarding the people who brought you Vista!
Firstly I appologise for the quiet site this last week, numerous commitments (both work and home) have forced me to put the blogazine on the shelf for the last few days.
That being said, I find myself in a position now to publish this article and one which manages to encapsulate a few stories in one (I hope)
Remember last year when many people jumped on what Windows advocates would call the “freetard bandwagon” and downloaded the free for a year Windows 7 RC? Remember how that year seemed such a long way away? It will be soon time to pay the reaper with the Windows Blog saying:
To avoid any data loss, I suggest making plans to move to a released version of Windows 7 before the automatic shutdowns start. During these shutdowns, your work will not be saved.
In relation to the bi-hourly automatic shutdowns that will occur as of March the 1st (until you pay up). Bi-hourly shutdowns? Loss of work? This to me sounds like Vista, but joking aside, now youve had your taster (and to quote Bill Gates in relation to Windows piracy in China)
….They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.
Its time to pay up.
Those used to Windows and instability may not notice the autoshutdowns though, so just to show that the shutdowns are not a “feature” of Windows 7, then on June 1st your wallpaper will change to “This copy of Windows is not genuine” 2 hourly shutdowns and loss of unsaved data? Sounds like a genuine copy of Windows to me. ;)
The Microsoft PR machines slithers into action, or doesn’t in this case
Joking aside though there are many people who are praising Windows 7, both in the experience and in the sales.
Comments that would not be approved by the Microsoft PR machine come from a very interesting article written by Dick Brass has many things to say, but notably:
Microsoft has become a clumsy, uncompetitive innovator. Its products are lampooned,
While Apple continues to gain market share in many products, Microsoft has lost share in Web browsers, high-end laptops and smartphones
….unless it regains its creative spark, it’s an open question whether it has much of a future
Now normally this would just be another “ordinary” opinion of a blogger, but in the case of these comment Dick Brass was a Vice President at Microsoft and these comments are documented in an article in the NY Times. You can read the full article here. In addition CNET also covered this subject here.
Whilst Microsoft can tout Windows 7 selling like hot cakes lets consider that Vista was poorly recieved and when XP was released there were far less PC’s in the home compared to today. Since you buying a computer from a highstreet seller often gives you little choice other than have a Windows OS OEM, how accurate are these great sales? and how many people will only have bought 7 because of being at their wits end with Vista?
Keep in mind that whilst we read the glowing praise about Windows 7, we only need to cast our minds back to just over a year when certain people were saying the same things about Vista. Remember the “Vista is loved” comment? It was documented at the time (along with a plethora of others) and if Microsoft Advocates were trying to convince you that there was nothing wrong with Vista, how can you believe whats being said about 7?
I’ll let you make up your own mind. Maybe Ive got it wrong, maybe it was only me who had a bad experience with Vista/Microsoft products and everyone else was very happy???!?? ;)
“Clumsy innovations” aside, lets turn our attentions to Steve Ballmer, who had this to say at Microsoft’s annual Financial Analyst Meeting last year:
We are going to come under attack
Er hello Stevie? You only noticed in July 09? I think you have been under “attack” for quite some time, its why Ipod has one over on the Zune, why Google dominates Bing, why WII outsells the 360 and why Winmob is well….Winmob. You can read the article here from the 30th of July 09 (maybe thats the date Ballmer had his moment of clarity) Maybe its Steve Ballmer who is soley responsible for what Mr Brass has to say about Microsoft?
Whatever the truth also last year it took a shareholder to tell Stevie (in relation to the younger generation)
You’ve got a real bad image out there
Batteries not included!
Well they are, batteries that is. The latest news to hit Microsoft’s Windows 7 is that its battery life (in some cases) is less than desirable, with Microsoft-Watch.com reporting comments from users such as:
One year old, 6cell battery does not last an hour with win 7
…upgraded from Vista to Win 7 and now get 1.5hrs of battery life if I am lucky!!
to name a few. Of course Microsoft is “investigating” so it will be interesting to see if its followed very shortly by a “Microsoft blames….” You can read the article here.
It should be noted that as early as August 09 a user said:
MSDN RTM of Windows 7 did NOT fix this issue. Clearly the issue has not been addressed. I don’t know why MS didn’t fix this for the final RTM, espically when so many people have this problem.
So why does it appear that Microsoft is “investigating” now? Remember Vista and “early good reports”? It doesn’t come a surprise to me that people were complaining before now and you can see some of the plea’s for help here.
So remind me again (and in particular if you are a Netbook Windows 7 user) once Aero is switched off and you’ve managed to finally get that pesky XP package working….whats the advantage here of wanting 7 on a netbook over XP when there are reports of bad battery life? People often ask if 7 is the version to finally replace XP….I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Goblin – email@example.com
The first distro I am looking at for the new year is Kahel OS, a distro based on Arch and hailing from the Philipines, it makes some bold statements and made it impossible for me to ignore! Distrowatch seems to list a plethora of Ubuntu based distro’s and whilst much work goes into them, most of the time I ask myself “What does X do that Y doesnt?”
…means faster boot process, faster X server load, seamless graphical 3D effects, faster graphics, and an improved animated boot sequence; faster boot-up – the startup process has been tweaked enormously to speed up the boot process
I thought I would be clever and start this review with a definition of the word “Kahel”. Unfortunately there isn’t one, so I can’t. If you look at the meaning Ubuntu (an African word meaning Humanity to others) the closest definition I can give for Kahel would be “Sahel” (African word meaning to eat abundantly). Since one of the claims of this distro is performance, I think it applies. Is there an abundance of tweaks/speed ups? Read on to find out!
As I say, the countless Ubuntu derived distro’s of varying quality offer users a diverse choice in their OS needs, but since Kahel OS is based on Arch (and has just released a Netbook remix version as well) I thought I would take a closer look at this interesting distro.
I installed and tested Kahel on a particularly temperamental system, which is no stranger to odd bouts of meldrovian  rage. The specs are as follows: Compaq AMD Athlon 64 3000+, 512mb Ram. It should be noted for the purposes of this review that Im running the 32bit version of Kahel.
After burning the ISO and booting you are immediately thrown into a text installer. Whilst the installation procedure is certainly not as user friendly (or pretty) as some of the “big name” distro’s, its certainly very simple to follow, with the script taking you through all the steps from partitioning to installing Grub. This is the where the first issue occurs though as a newcomer to Linux in my opinion would be put off with the options presented. There’s a wealth of file systems to choose from and in this review I opted to go with ext4.
The whole procedure took around 35 minutes to complete and if the installation options had not put off a new user then the echoing of system commands will probably have them hiding under a desk. I couldn’t find an option to hide these and if this distro is intended to be for a Linux newcomer, its certainly an option that needs to be considered (IMO).
And this is where the problem is. Whether you are a user/fan of Ubuntu or not, I don’t think you can argue that Ubuntu is not only the “planet” where many experienced Linux users like to reside, but its also a stepping stone for those new to Linux who will eventually decide to become more adventurous and look at more exotic distros.
First off, Kahel comes as default with the Gnome DE (version 2.28.2) and whilst I do not like the way Gnome seems to be moving to more Mono dependence in its default install, its still hard for me to select my favorite DE between this and Xfce. Of course F-Spot was the first package to be removed, as was anything with Mono dependencies. Kahel is running Linux kernel 2.6.32.
Stepping back to comments I made in the installation section, I am still confused by the default Gnome games. These (IMO) mostly play once titles are something every Linux user of over 6 months have seen/played/deleted and if, Kahel is aimed more at the established Linux user, why on earth would they be included? If anyone has a particular desire to play these games then its not exactly challenging to install them.
Shiretoko 3.5.6 (Firefox derived) is packaged as default and whilst I do like to have Firefox/derivative as a backup browser, I immediately installed Chromium which from the software repositories, which as it stands is currently 220.127.116.11-1. Pacman 2.4 handles the package management of Kahel (and very well I may add), Im rapidly becoming a fan and I do like the “orphans” tab for tracking down those bloat creating rogue packages. This for me is another reason why Kahel may not be the first port of call for a Linux newcomer and I don’t think anyone here will argue that Ubuntu Software Center is far more accessable.
Other default packages include Gnome Terminal 2.28.2, Python 2.6.4, Open Office 3.1.1, Totem 2.28.4 Interestingly Gimp is absent from the default install, could the Canonical idea that Gimp is too complicated be influencing other distro’s? Of course Kahel does include Draw (part of the Open Office suite) and for me is more than adequate for my local image editing needs. A nice little touch is the famous quote you get every time you run Terminal…simple I know, easy to do, I know but its little touches like this which I like about the many distro’s around.
In order to see what performance was like in a real world scenario, I decided to run Quake Live and see if the claims made by Kahel’s creators were supported in the results. Despite my beloved Nvidia drivers being absent, performance was reasonable. It is worth noting though that if 3d performance (and in particular gaming) is your intention, then IMO you are going to want to consider installing the proprietary drivers for your gfx card Dropped frames were kept to a minimum although it did noticeably struggle at times. Performance of the DE and taking into account ext4 was fast, loading times were quick and despite limited ram, the system as a whole ran relatively smoothly, even when a combination of tasks were attempted simultaneously.
Boot up and startup times were good. You may see in Kahel’s description a reference to an animated loading screen. This consists of a dancing Kahel logo instead of a progress bar, IMO not very exciting although if you have Kahel stored on a device with fast load/seek times the little chap will have a fit whilst loading.
Shut down times were good, but not as fast as some of the “big name” distro’s, with Kahel taking around 15 seconds to power down. Not an issue I know, but the description led me to believe I was in for something special.
I liked Kahel, its derived from a solid distro with a large following (Arch). Kahel is not one of the many generic Ubuntu clones that seem to be flavor of the month at the moment and it makes effort with “the little things” in order to try to give you a unique experience. Kahel has a nice selection of original backdrops and the Kahel logo is wacky, but more importantly memorable.
For those of you who think Ubuntu’s default DE theme is garish, just wait until you see Kahel. Bright orange is order of the day for Kahel.
As I said before theres a few packages which need not be present. If we are agreed that Kahel is not intended for the Linux new user then I fail to see why the need to have the games installed.
Since Kahel is attempting to be a little different (and it does that well) it would be nice to see the removal of Mono, theres nothing for me that requires the Mono dependencies, no killer app and for me no reason for its presence. If Kahel is wanting to “stand out” even more from the competition of hundreds of other distro’s, that to me would be a good place to start.
A great distro, that attempts to be original, offering out of the box compat for those which have already dipped their feet into Linux.
Visit the homepage here: http://www.kahelos.org/index.php
Kahel is going into 2010 with offerings of its OS for both 32 and 64bit Netbooks. Kahel have said:
Today on New Year’ Day, Let us introduce to you KahelOS Light Edition 01-01-2010 designed for Netbooks with limited storage capacity. Just like the KahelOS Desktop Edition, the Light Edition has 32- bit and 64-bit version installers.
The “light” version is also presented with Xfce DE, is reported to be more SSD friendly and can be downloaded here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/kahelos/files/
For those of you interested in the desktop edition or to catch up on the latest happenings over in the Kahel world, visit their website here: http://www.kahelos.org/index.php
 Meldrovian is a term derived from a fictional character (Victor Meldrew) prone to grumpy, stubborn and outrageous behaviour with a unquestionable belief in himself being right.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org
After much speculation (and a few faked screenshots) it appears we finally have word from Google as to what & when.
Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve. Source: Googleblog
There can be little doubt that after the success of its search engine and the popularity of its other services that Google pretty much knows its customers. In my opinion Google has what some other companies do not and that is honest champions/advocates of their services/products. How many people have you heard complain about Google in the average computing environment?
Ever since the news broke of the Google OS we’ve had many thinkers regarding it. We see the frightened (Wintrolls in comp.alt.linux.advocacy) the over enthusiastic (the promoters of fake screenshots) and the “lets wait and see”. Now we get further details.
It is being reported that the Google OS (which is browser based) will offer most of its services online and the user having their data stored on Google servers. There’s been much debate about this (and surrounding topics) and the Do you trust your data to be stored in the cloud? is probably one of the issues that will come out of this eventual release.
Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. Source: Googleblog
Users of Chrome OS will reportedly not have to worry about updating their software and having other advantages, one being a 7 second boot time (allegedly) IMO there really is much to look forward to when the finished product hits the shelves. The OS itself is apparently going to be free, with Google working with manufacturers to further provide a better integration between their software and hardware.
Chrome OS is reported to be its own Windowing system on top on a Linux kernel and I think shows yet again that worth of Linux and its community. I have documented my use of Chromium since its early builds and I must say that the layout (providing it resembles the OS) is intuitive, friendly and quick.
Google also made this statement:
We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better.
and in my opinion its a shame Microsoft didn’t listen to that message (IMO).
The Chrome OS is aimed at Netbooks and whilst we are on the subject of Netbooks earlier in the year Windows 7 for the netbook, hardly got the glowing praise with Tomshardware.com noting that Windows 7 took 2.5 hours off your battery life and benchmark tests between 7 and XP showed XP outperforming 7 in most tests. Is that what Microsoft wants to hear when its trying to get in with 7 on the netbook?
So whilst there has been more information released it still leaves many questions unanswered. Will Chrome support Silverlight? (or does anyone care?) What about drivers for existing and new hardware? Is Google considering its OS for anything other than Netbooks?
Lets remember what Mr Ballmer CEO of Microsoft had to say about Google (allegedly)
Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards.
Try not to be too hard on him though. His “teacher” (IMO) Bill Gates said in the 90’s:
The Internet? We are not interested in it
and another alleged comment that Bill Gates made (which may ring some bells with Windows users)
If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.
Source: http://www.quotesandsayings.com/quotes/bill-gates/ (and theres many more Gates crackers there too)
To ask if Microsoft is scared is wrong. Microsoft is not a person. Detractors to Linux make many claims, they would like you to believe its a hobbyist platform. They would like you to believe its difficult to use. They would like you to believe that it won’t be compatible with your hardware. I would put money on similar being said about Chrome OS.
I think Google’s move to produce this software shows an attitude change in the average computer user. We no longer need to rely on Microsoft to get jobs done in my opinion and there are many alternatives to Microsoft products, either proprietary or indeed FOSS.
The BBC seem to think the Chrome OS will have an impact on the market:
….could dramatically change the market for operating systems, especially for Microsoft…
It certainly will be interesting next year. Bring on Chrome OS!
Goblin – email@example.com
Before publishing an article which I am really looking forward to – Ahhh Youre killing the FOSS! I thought I would post an update on my experiences with the latest build of Chromium, that being 18.104.22.168.
Please note that this is not intended as a comprehensive review, merely an update on my observations with Chromium in its current build.
Anyone who was reading this blogazine around May 09 will remember that I went away on a trip to Poole and bought a netbook for my surfing and posting whilst I was away. You may also remember that I had to settle for an XP one since the mobile broadband dongle would not work with a Linux system. It was whilst I was stuck with this system that I remembered how poor IE was for me and decided if I was going to have to use XP, I would be damned if I would also suffer IE.
This was when I was introduced to Chrome and upon my return started looking at running Chromium on Linux.
Ive been with the builds since the very early days (I wish I could remember the number) and since trawling through my blog to find the earliest version I looked at is not my idea of a good Tuesday night, I thought I would skip that and simply concentrate on the state of Chromium today.
Chromium on my rigs is blisteringly fast, it always was. In the earlier builds there were a few stability issues in respect of JAVA input boxes, but these were not frequent enough to present a huge problem. Once Flash was implemented and was stable, for me Chromium really took off as a browser and I found myself using Firefox less and less.
Today Chromium is still blisteringly fast, JAVA input boxes are still smooth/fast and I found that they were far more responsive than Firefox (correct up to the latest version I have 3.5.1) Incognito mode is a great little mode although I don’t really find myself facilitating it.
Somewhere around July (I think) a few builds of Chromium came with a small picture of a face in the top right hand corner of the window (without any explanation). I really should Google that as it was a mystery I never got around to solving.
By August 09 I found that I very rarely (if ever) needed to run FF (obviously Quake Live being the exception to this) September came and went which is when I found an issue with the software.
At the time I considered it to be a bug created as a side effect to something else, presuming that it would be fixed in October, although now we are in November and the bug is still present (see below) That being said it is a minor issue when one looks at the performance boost it has over other browsers, although since then a few other bugs cropped up which I felt needed mentioning.
BUGS WITH CHROMIUM
1. The ability to open links from external software into Chromium is no longer working. If this had been an issue from day 1, it would not have been a problem. This bug though only appears to have materialized around the September/October time.
2. Java input boxes can freeze when data is copied and pasted into them from the same page. The freeze is limited to that particular tab, but its particularly annoying when you are replying to a comment. There is a work around that I use which is right click on the offending tab, select duplicate and then move to the duplicated tab and continue editing (as it is no longer frozen) This particular problem appeared around the end of October.
3. WordPress no longer seems to play as nicely with Chromium. This could be a fault of WordPress or Chromium. Every so often I appear to get logged out of my blog account and when trying to log back in, my password is not recognized. If I login via the main page there is no problem. This issue seems to appear randomly and can happen if I am trying to embed a picture into my text. The second WordPress issue Ive found is that when previewing a post, you are no longer able to save the draft.
As you can see these bugs are more annoying than prohibitive, but just as I was beginning to consider removing FF completely from my system, I will now have to wait until these issues are resolved.
CONCLUSIONS SO FAR
I still love Chromium, with the new bugs cropping up it has hampered my enjoyment of the package but then it should be remembered that its still quite early in its development. I love the style of the tabbed browsing of Chromium and the location of my shortcuts. Speed has and still is the most impressive part of Chromium and that trend continues.
I haven’t found any sites that crash Chromium since about August and there are so many great features of the software, I simply don’t have the time to list them all.
The Chromium themes are a nice idea, but Ive yet to find a theme that doesn’t look a complete mess. The simple designs are fine, but some of the more fanciful ones, just look awful in my opinion on my desktop.
In closing, I cannot assume that these bugs are global and they could be localized to my particular rig/distro, but whatever the answer I am not so keen to recommend Chromium as I was a few months ago. With that in mind I would expect these issues to be ironed out as it matures and I still think that it will be a fantastic browser in the future.
It looks like Firefox will be staying on my system for some time to come.
Goblin – firstname.lastname@example.org
We all remember the articles around Vista 7 Starter having a 3 apps limit, a move which presumably Microsoft wanted to encourage customers to upgrade to one of the other (more expensive) versions of 7. It comes as little surprise to me now that Microsoft appear to have backed down on that particular scheme and its now reported that the 3 app hobbling has been removed.
Before we look at this further, cast your mind back over the last few weeks at all the MS faithful that claimed 3 apps wasn’t a problem. They claimed it would’nt have an impact on your Windows experience and some claimed that many bloggers/reporters were making an issue out of nothing. So why has Microsoft backed down on its Starter policy then? and the other question I would like to ask, when we get news like the 3 app hobbling what are the motives behind some reporters trying to dismiss negative news on Microsoft. In my opinion Microsoft realized that the 3 app limit was a bad idea and removed it.
Microsoft are alleged to have said:
“We believe these changes will make Windows 7 Starter an even more attractive option for customers who want a small notebook PC for very basic tasks, like browsing the web, checking email and personal productivity,”
Which leaves me a little confused since I was reading at the time by many that the 3 app limit wouldn’t make a difference and wasnt an issue.
Microsoft are reported to have said that there will be other restrictions placed on the Starter edition, and one of our most noted MS faithful seems to think one such restriction will be the inability to change the backdrop within 7. He has this to say on Twitter:
“I think the wallpaper limitation in Windows 7 Starter is lame. I can change the wallpaper on a $30 phone, why not on a $300 Netbook?” http://twitter.com/adacosta
and Id answer Mr Da Costa, because Microsoft would hope it will entice users to upgrade. Wallpaper and customization of your OS is something that is popular.
Which does make me think that there isnt enough here (in respect of 7 on a netbook) to entice users. Forgetting that many people already have one, already have a dedication to the XP platform, who is going to want to go out for the 7 on a Netbook, when by Microsoft’s own statement the netbook is for simple tasks?
In my opinion Windows Starter will allow that cheap 7 laptop into your home, once people realize what restrictions are on it they will upgrade making that Netbook not so cheap any more. The off the shelf price will still be in the Netbook range, however IMO the price could be much higher in the long run.
What I would like readers to consider as a result of this article is to always research and form your own opinion. There are people on the Net who could put a positive spin on the end of the world and whilst we saw many dismissing the issue of the 7 hobbling, it now transpires that even Microsoft think it a bad idea (IMO)
My advice for those who MUST have a Windows based Netbook, should go with XP. I believe this Vista 7 on Netbooks could be fraught with issues.
Talking of netbooks, anyone have Vista on one and would like to comment?
Goblin – email@example.com
Short piece of breaking news (if true)
Thanks to the Twitter user Microsoft_cares, heres a link to an article alleging there will be 10 versions of Windows 7. Thats keeping it simple then.
At the present time, this hasnt been either confirmed or denied so keep an open mind: