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.

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* 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 1234567890@mohavewireless.com, and the pass­word would be 1234567890.

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