The Ubuntu install was damn near painless compared to XP, or even OSX. And by contrast to the insanely recalcitrant Slackware I began with more than ten years ago, well, hell, there’s just no contest.
This is actually an Ubuntu remix optimized to work on netbooks. It runs well, significantly faster than XP did on the “Designed for Windows XP” Acer Aspire One I have. (8 GB SSHD!) No noticeable system hangs, unlike its predecessor; loading a browser was an exercise in frustration, and even starting up a link in a new tab locked the machine for 15 seconds or so while the HTML rendered. Well, not any more.
Currently I have five virtual desktops; here’s a screenshot of the system load with Firefox, TweetDeck, Tomboy and Evolution running:
You wouldn’t know the netbook has a (more or less) dual core processor, not the way it ran with XP. But Ubuntu’s barely even touched its VM. And you have to admit the GUI eye-candy isn’t bad.
Probably the hardest thing I had to do was get and install synce to sync my smartphone (I still haven’t found a GUI tool that seems to work in a way I can comprehend); the second hardest was setting it up to talk to my EVDO cellular modem.*
EDIT: If you have an Acer Aspire One and want to try different distro’s of Linux on it, the best way is to get a USB thumb drive (at least 2 GB), download the distro that interests you, follow the instructions to extract it onto the thumb drive, and then reboot your Aspire One.
Before you see the Windows XP startup logo, there’ll be a brief flash of text and system info. Press the F12 key to get into a menu of boot devices you can choose from. Your USB thumb drive should be in that list.
Select it, hit ENTER and play around a bit — it’s a great way to get a preview of a Linux distribution before actually installing it to your system.
* That was a little less complicated; you can get into the network control widget’s wireless tab and choose your cellular provider from a list, assuming your EVDO modem is already registered.
Unfortunately my local provider, Mohave Wireless, is not on that list, but I used the basic settings for Verizon, then set up the username (EVDO_modem_number_with_area_code@mohavewireless.com) and password (EVDO_modem_number_with_area_code) to work with MoWi’s network.
Thus, if your EVDO modem’s number is (123) 456‑7890, your username would be firstname.lastname@example.org, and the password would be 1234567890.
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