Hot and Sandy

Travel writing, pictures and stuff for people I know. Quite a lot of cycling talk, and some semi-controlled ranting. Hiking, outdoor and two-wheeled stuff, perhaps a little computing when it's worth talking about. Meandering thoughts.

Saturday, January 3

Festive Netbook Thoughts

Anyone with a feel for technology trends or a need for travel will have noticed the explosion in "netbook computing" that has happened over about the last year. Why would anyone need to travel with a £1500 subnotebook when for £300 you get something 90% as capable, probably the same size and so cheap as to be almost - not quite but almost - disposable. I know which I'd rather have nicked in a faraway airport!

I have been such a late convert because of two reasons. The first is that my need isn't that great. I'm as likely to use a netbook for quickly checking my mail or an eBay auction while I'm in bed than to write that vital article in wartorn somewhereistan. But this is still valid; a small computer with wireless and no optical drive is great to have round the house, just sitting on the bedside table or the kitchen worktop. I suppose this means my life is a little too internet-enabled!

The second reason is that my other machine - a 12" Apple Powerbook - is so completely awesome. It has been reliable, fast, rugged, flexible and it's looked good throughout my ownership. It will even run UNIX apps without complaining! Apart from a failing battery and a size which means you just can't open it on an economy airline seat, the legendary 12" has been, well, legendary.

The new machine is a departure for me. A Samsung NC10. Straight out of the box I repartitioned it and installed Fedora 10, a brilliant distro I've been running on a 900MHz beige box at home for some time. I was slightly anxious about the install. Linux had been conspicuously absent from the Samsung model range, so I thought maybe there would be a killer problem that would force a full restore and XP Home Edition from now on.

The install went perfectly, and everything just works. There are a couple of very minor glitches though. The brightness function keys don't work (who cares - the Gnome brightness widget works great) and the wireless card only wakes from suspend / hibernate about 90% of the time. No big deal. I can mount and write to the Windows partitions using the brilliant OpenOffice with native PDF support, I have an excellent Mac OS theme running in Gnome, and 6hrs + or realistic battery life in a gorgeous little device - almost like the low-cost netbook Apple should be making.

More thoughts (and probably some photos and an edit of this) to come in the next few days. Isn't 2009 amazing so far?


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