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Best OS For Netbooks and Underpowered Tablets? 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the vista-right? dept.
vigmeister writes "I hopped on the netbook bandwagon early this year in a rather odd fashion by picking up an outdated portable tablet (Fujitsu P1510) which just about matches the latest, greatest netbooks for their performance and portability features, while nipping them by managing to give me a better battery life. I've been happy using XP Tablet on this machine until recently, when I started thinking that by optimizing the OS for targeted use, I may be able to squeeze more out of the device. So, my questions are: What OS would you recommend for a netbook/outdated laptop? Usage is typically light — web surfing (with multimedia), email, word processing, spreadsheet and reading PDFs. Also, what OS would you recommend for a ultraportable tablet? Usage is similar to a netbook; there's a little more document editing going on, and good handwriting recognition and note-taking software would be great." Read on for further details about vigmeister's question.
vigmeister continues, "I would like for the user experience to be snappy on a computer that is essentially running the equivalent of a 1.2 GHz PIII with 512mb RAM. The other objective for both of these is to maximize the battery life, as that is the major drawback of these ultraportables. A small memory footprint would work wonders, since the hard drives on these devices are typically slow and completely suck the joy out of using them when swap space is being used. Any tips? If you are still using your outdated laptops/tablets productively, please share with us how you're doing it, so we can too."
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Best OS For Netbooks and Underpowered Tablets?

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  • by ohxten (1248800) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:49AM (#25517839) Homepage
    Try a *nix -- maybe something like FreeBSD, NetBSD, or OpenBSD.
    • Something *nix, for sure

      Because the sheer idea of Unix inspires a computer torun more efficiently? I kid, mostly.

      A couple years ago I was thinking along the same lines as vigmeister (i.e., getting a Fujitsu tablet for light usage around the house, maybe play go online on the couch.) Reports around the internet were that XP Tablet (or is it just Windows Tablet?) was a dog on old Fujitsus. Windows 2000 was more popular, and some people were even recommending using Windows 95, which required finding Windows tablet functionality th

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hairyfeet (841228)
        I would vote for Win2K Pro. I am running it on a desktop with almost the same specs and even with many programs running in the background it is still very snappy. And if you further tweak it by going to a site like Blackvipers services list [blackviper.com] and turning off anything you don't need it can be very conservative on RAM and CPU cycles.
    • by DanZ23 (901353)

      I run Gentoo on it. I get 830 vs 450 fps in glxgears compared to the stock kernel and AsusLauncher/Xandros. I love this pc

  • by HateBreeder (656491) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:50AM (#25517843)

    You're naively asking for an OS recommendation on Slashdot?

    talk about predictability of results...

    • by Aminion (896851) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:53AM (#25517855)
      Yeah, all the Windows ME fanboism is getting really old.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Foofoobar (318279)
      Just because the engineers response happens to be one that you may disgree with 'religiously' should not impair your ability as an engineer to agree that it makes a better choice for a lowend outdated machine. Attempting to fit a modern, bloated OS with poor security and modern drivers requirements to an outdated machine is not only dumb but childish in assuming that one OS fits all.

      Had the option been 'what OS should I use on a modern machine to connect to my other office PC's?' I would probably suggest
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MimsyBoro (613203)
      Yeah, The question should be something like "Which flavour of Ubuntu would you recommend?" And maybe you'll get one "no but Fedora is also cool" but don't count on it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by try_anything (880404)

        Actually, the question should be, "Which desktop environment, and which applications?" The desktop environment and applications will eat more resources and have a much bigger impact on performance than the OS.

        For Windows, the desktop environment and the OS are pretty thoroughly linked. With Linux, on the other hand, even if you limit yourself to a single major distro such as Ubuntu or Fedora, you can run any desktop environment you like. Lately I've been trying to get acquainted with Fluxbox, which runs

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HardCase (14757)

      Now, the really funny thing is that all the [insert linux distro here] recommendations are going to ignore one of his requests: maximize battery life. Unfortunately, that's one thing that no Linux...excuse me, GNU/Linux, distro has managed to achieve. We're still trying to hit the Linux on the Desktop benchmark.

      • Re:Are you kidding? (Score:5, Informative)

        by pablomme (1270790) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:54PM (#25518307)

        Let me introduce you to PowerTOP [lesswatts.org]. Come back after you try it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Wait, so I'm looking at the powertop screenshot on its homepage. It's a terminal program for seeing which processes are causing wakeups. And the top four power-hungry processes it shows are my wireless driver, Firefox, Evolution and X! Are you seriously telling me to shut down one of these four things, when the whole point of buying a netbook was to get email and internet on the go? What use is this to me?

          Oh, apart from that it suggests that I turn off bluetooth. Brilliant, not like every other OS says the

      • Re:Are you kidding? (Score:4, Informative)

        by poetmatt (793785) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:58PM (#25518319) Journal

        If you think that anything other than linux is the most power efficient, I'd like to not only point you to the responses below but also let you know that you have it pretty much backwards. Linux distros can not only be more efficient but can even be specifically aimed to be even moreso on top of that. PowerTOP was my first thought, as well.

        I mean what do you want to point people to? OSX? Vista? Lets be honest now. Try not to throw chairs next time.

        • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @01:24PM (#25518535)

          linux is not great though, even after taking the suggestions from powertop (i believe they are implemented in "laptop-mode" for ubuntu but dont sue me if im wrong), it marginally outperforms windows machines, but still lakes acpi support to make suspend useable (depends on machine ofc). Using a touchpad in xorg also seams to kill battery life.

          However what is great is the amount of user interaction with the powersaving, if you use something like kpowersave you just scroll over the icon to change your brightness (which cuts power consumption to nearly half on my laptop), there is also compression on hibernate, which means that you can get back to full desktop much faster than a normal hibernate/boot. In adition using powertop lets you audit your system to see whats wasting your batteries when idle (kicker in KDE is a common suspect, so switching to fluxbox can also give a marginal (5-10 mins) battery life increase)

          My point: Linux is no better (and often worse) by default, but if you tweak it you CAN outperfom windows and gain other benifits too (no need for AV, faster boot, faster hibernate, faster file access and chkdsk (reiserfs mainly but ext3 is good too))

        • by arth1 (260657)

          This isn't always the case, alas.
          For example, with AMD-4 CPUs, you can't use the on-demand cpufreq scheduler because these CPUs don't switch fast enough, and the conservative scheduler has been broken for powernow-k7 since kernel 2.6.24, with no fix in sight. So you end up running the CPU either at full speed all the time, or once it drops down to the lowest speed it will never increase again.
          With Windows, there's no such problems -- the AMD PowerNow drivers keep working pretty stable.

          Then there's the nigh

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Well, handwriting recognition sucks on Linux. So the "obvious" Slashdot choice is no good to answer the question. Frankly, I think his XP Tablet is the best choice, unless Vista happens to run well (I doubt it will, but Vista has much better handwriting recognition.)

      • Re:Are you kidding? (Score:5, Informative)

        by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:37PM (#25519159)

        Handwriting recognition in Linux can be quite decent. CellWriter (http://risujin.org/cellwriter/) is one of the better handwriting-recognition tools for *nix and it is what I use on my Gateway S-7125C tablet. It's a little better than the handwriting recognition in XP Tablet 2005 but worse than Vista's. XP Tablet will run fine on a 1.2 GHz CPU but might balk a bit at 512 MB RAM, particularly if the OP wants to use MS Office 2003 or 2007, which are far from lightweight apps. Windows Vista certainly does have excellent tablet integration, but it's just going to take one look at a machine with 512 MB RAM and laugh. That pretty much leaves Linux and Linux would run reasonably nicely on a 1.2 GHz machine with 512 MB RAM. I had Debian Lenny running on a Celeron 900 with 256 MB RAM up until just a few weeks ago and it ran pretty well for being 8-year-old hardware.

    • Re:Are you kidding? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Z34107 (925136) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:41PM (#25519203)

      I have an Acer Aspire One [wikipedia.org] netbook. It has a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor (with hyperthreading, evidently), 1.5GB of RAM (I upgraded it from 512MB), an 8GB SSD drive, and a 1024x600 screen.

      It came with "Linpus" (a horrid distro of Linux), which inspired me to try to install a different operating system. (It performed OK, but they did their best to hide any advanced functionality like, you know, installing a program. No package manager for you!).

      If you're a college student, Google "Microsoft DreamSpark." Ballmer is giving out free, full licenses to Windows Server 2003 and 2008, amongst other things, presumably to brainwash the latest generation of human capital. So, I installed Server 2003 Standard on my tiny little netbook and got some Enhanced Write Filter [microsoft.com] drivers from an XP Embedded ISO. It runs amazingly fast (EWF drivers are similar to what Live CDs use - writes are committed to memory instead of disk, which makes fetching those files later extremely fast), and can even play World of Warcraft.

      So, what I suggest you do is figure out how to get Enhanced Write Filter drivers working on your machine. Prior to installing them on my machine, Firefox was almost unusable - scrolling down one line would cause a torrent of disk activity, which would lock the machine until it was finished. (Windows really isn't meant for solid state drives, it seems.) After installing those drivers, it boots faster than my gaming rig, and is hyper-responsive.

      Since Tablet XP seems to have the proper handwriting support you want, try installing those drivers. It made my Server 2003 install perform leaps and bounds better; I'm sure it'll help XP Tablet, too.

  • Best OS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ROMRIX (912502) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:55AM (#25517867) Homepage
    Why don't you just say what you mean. 'What flavor of linux?'
  • I run Kubuntu 8.04 on a Compaq Evo N410c, which is a 1.2GHz P-III with 512MB memory. It's just fine.

    The full desktop environments are fat, but not slow. The limiting factor for your free Unix is not CPU - a few hundred MHz will do fine - but memory. I also have a P-II 450MHz desktop running FreeBSD with KDE, and it works marvellously because it's got 704MB RAM.

    The other thing is screen resolution - but Xandros on the Eee at 800x480 is quite usable. Perhaps play with the Ubuntu Netbook remix.

    • Oh, and the critical factor for battery life? Run a recent Linux. And use PowerTop to check what's taking power, and disable it. Linux is getting REALLY GOOD at this stuff. On my Compaq 6710b (Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM) doing lots of browsing in Firefox 3 with hundreds of tabs and almost nothing else, Windows XP runs 2 hours, Kubuntu 7.10 ran 3 hours, Kubuntu 8.04 runs 3.5 to 4 hours. Your mileage may vary, of course - but the most up-to-date Linux kernel is well worth it.
      • I have two identical laptops, one running windows fill-time and one that runs the latest linux distros. And while my linux machine is indespensible for many types of work, linux support for laptop features is still frustrating. That's not to say that windows is inherently wonderful, but the fact that hardware makers sink almost all their effort into improving the experience under windows really shows.

        Id recommend linux if and only if you are willing to put a lot of time and effort into making the user exp

        • This is where the Ubuntu LiveCD comes in useful. You can see precisely whether or not you do in fact have to put in a lot of time and effort, or if it Just Works. Which it increasingly does these days.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh, and the critical factor for battery life? Run a recent Linux.

        Spell it out clearly for the newbies. Run a recent KERNEL. (that's Linux folks)

        one keyword here would be 'tickless'

    • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:59PM (#25518327) Homepage

      in reply to both of your comments:

      this is why i think vendors need to create a category of lower power computers--not just laptops/subnotebooks/tablets. the average user is not using their desktop PC for CAD work, 3d/graphic design, video editing, or playing the latest FPS. most people simply need a computer that can efficiently surf the web, check their e-mail, do spreadsheets/word processing/presentations, play music, and watch the occasional DVD.

      instead of developing more and more bloated software that negate simultaneous increases in hardware processing power/speed, we should be making software more efficient so that casual computing can be done on cheaper and cheaper systems that require less power & energy rather than more.

      the average user should be able to accomplish everything they need to do using a 700-800 MHz low-power processor with 256 MB of RAM. they'd not only save on their electric bill, but we'd be creating a more sustainable society. besides, unlike the PC gamer, media/graphic design professional, the casual computer user shouldn't need to upgrade their hardware every single year to keep up with increasing resource intensive software.

      using a simple & efficient OS tailored to the casual computing, the average consumer could use a cheaper, less powerful machine that still boots up in seconds. but that would require that PC vendors stop pre-installing their systems with cruftware by their software partners.

      • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @01:32PM (#25518595) Homepage

        Before the destruction of the proprietary home computer market by the PC, software was a lot more efficiently written because the authors couldn't expect people to just upgrade their hardware.

    • by Compholio (770966)

      he limiting factor for your free Unix is not CPU - a few hundred MHz will do fine - but memory. I also have a P-II 450MHz desktop running FreeBSD with KDE, and it works marvellously because it's got 704MB RAM.

      Personally, that's why I'd recommend NOT using KDE or GNOME (and I use these bloated suckers on every box I own). If you're on a limited memory box (like a netbook) then I'd recommend using Xfce. For the Ubuntu fans you can load Xubuntu for the Xfce version.

    • I run Kubuntu 8.04 on a Compaq Evo N410c, which is a 1.2GHz P-III with 512MB memory. It's just fine.

      Indeed, it's not so much a matter of the distro but more of the window manager or desktop environment. I'm also generally using KDE. On one netbook, however, I prefere FVWM, simply because I use it for a few things and don't need *any* eye candy or fancy menus. However, as you get into weaker processors and smaller RAM, other desktop environments might be more enjoyable. Xfce [xubuntu.org] and Fluxbox [fluxbuntu.org] come to mind.

      One fact that is not as widely known as it could be is that just about any distro can be modified thr

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:59AM (#25517889)

    I have a Thinkpad x61 Tablet that I use to take notes at school; It's running gentoo (mostly so I could have a better chance at making all the obscure features work).

    If you do decide to go with linux, no matter the distro, the programs I've found useful are CellWriter, for an onscreen keyboard and handwriting recognition, and Xournal for note-taking. Xournal does well with the tablet's pressure sensitivity and higher resolution.

  • Stay where you are (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KasperMeerts (1305097)
    If you're happy with XP Tablet, why change?
    Anyway, for something like that, I won't advise anything else than some sort of Unix, Ubuntu should fare well with 512 MB RAM or maybe Xubuntu would do better in this case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you're happy with XP Tablet, why change?

      "Me too"

      Stick with XP if you're happy. Fiddle with *nix on a desktop.

      Naysayers aside, I get ~7 hours of active use on my Lenovo Thinkpad x61 tablet and still have 10% left. This is with the stock 9 cell battery, wifi off and the backlight dialed down to one step above off - perfectly readable indoors.

      How do I get better numbers than the vendor claims? I've tweaked the OS, bumped the ram to 4GB and save my data to an SD card in the built in reader - no need to spin the HD up and down every time I hit save. O

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vtcodger (957785)

      Let me second this. I'm no fan of Microsoft and I believe that Windows NT is a mediocre OS for Personal computers (as opposed to servers). I think that the Vista debacle is exactly what Microsoft deserved for putting their interests (single code base) above those of the users. But if XP does what you need, it's far less painful to play around and remove stuff that is unnecessary and resource hungry and perhaps find some Open Source software alternatives for specific tasks (e.g. foxit rather than acrobat

    • Run your XP Tablet Edition disc through NLite and make an even lighter weight XP disc. No need to install/run software you'll never use.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:01PM (#25517907)

    I actually have one of these (a P1510D), and I was just thinking about this! :-)

    My P1510D is running Ubuntu 8.04 and dualbooting XP Tablet Edition; the Linux side isn't as reliable as the Windows side, unfortunately. I've got a page of notes here on how I got Linux working on the thing; you need to fool around with Perl to get a touchscreen "driver" working and install another group of applications to get the buttons working.

    Mine doesn't have Bluetooth, so I can't comment on that; wifi finally works out of the box, suspend is OK, hibernate is iffy, xrandr+compiz=crash, I haven't figured out how to get the fingerprint reader to work, the touchscreen "driver" likes to crap out and doesn't work too well, et cetera. Can't comment on the battery, since my battery is done for (it lasts for about 20 minutes before dying, on Windows or Linux).

    If you want specifics, let me know--I've spent a few weeks digging up stuff.

  • options (Score:4, Interesting)

    by itzdandy (183397) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nosnednad.> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:03PM (#25517927) Homepage

    I *WANT* to tell you to put some ubuntu on there and tweak it up a bit.

    The only real reason that this isnt the best option is that Linux (and BSD) are heavier on battery life than WindowsXP. I run linux on my laptop and have on other laptops and linux sucks down the battery faster.

    For a Tablet, batter life is a pretty big thing I think and this is a major issue. I get as much as 30% less battery life out of linux.

    That being said, linux has come a long way on this front and this may be remedied pretty soon.

    Also, with ubuntu 8.10 as well as new releases of fedora the wireless management is much better.

    If you are not concerned with battery life then definitely grab a newer linux distro. Remember that you need to do a number of tweaks for power such as turning the swapiness down and selecting the proper power states.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      *WANT* to tell you to put some ubuntu on there and tweak it up a bit.

      The only real reason that this isnt the best option is that Linux (and BSD) are heavier on battery life than WindowsXP. I run linux on my laptop and have on other laptops and linux sucks down the battery faster.

      With a tickless kernel (since around 2.6.20, iirc), this shouldn't be an issue anymore. And with 'powertop' being a
      nice tool to assign blame, a lot of applications are fixed to support this as well. It really makes a huge difference.

    • Re:options (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:38PM (#25518179) Homepage

      The only real reason that this isnt the best option is that Linux (and BSD) are heavier on battery life than WindowsXP. I run linux on my laptop and have on other laptops and linux sucks down the battery faster.

      And as a developer, I will state that I've had the opposite experience with Ubuntu on my HP Pavilion dv9000 (Never booted with Vista while in my possession...) and, the previous Pavilion dv6000, the Compaq Evo n800, and my eeePC.

      Keep in mind the eeePC with Xandros runs better and actually has a slightly better life than the XP install on the same class of machine. If your claim is correct, why is this the case?

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        According to the eee documentation, it can do 5 hours battery life with xandros and 8 with xp, it explains what software they used to come to this...
        But it does just seem the benchmarking program on xp is just far less accurate than the linux one.

    • by xenocide2 (231786)

      For a netboot / tablet, there's also the Ubuntu Netbook Remix which has some interesting (if a bit beta) programs to improve the experience. It's actually quite good on my larger, overpowered tablet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by laffer1 (701823)

      MidnightBSD uses less power on my ThinkPad T30 than Windows XP SP3. I have powerd and cpufreq running which lowers battery usage significantly. FreeBSD out of the box isn't great, but it can be tweaked to be quite energy efficient.

      As others pointed out, Linux has the tickless kernel option which is excellent.

      Further, I would say Windows power consumption is worse because many people run antivirus or other background apps that they don't need in a *nix system.

      I also noticed less power usage while plugged i

    • YMMV. With Ubuntu 8.04, kernel 2.6.27, I find precisely the opposite: XP runs 2 hours, 8.04 runs 3.5 to 4 hours. I blame the shitty, shitty McAfee antivirus on the Windows installation (it's my work laptop); but antiviruses aren't optional on Windows, and have a notable tendency to cripple the machine and suck power.
  • by Caboosian (1096069) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:08PM (#25517973)
    Clearly the territory of Windows Vista.
  • by neo (4625) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:09PM (#25517977)

    http://www.zimmers.net/geos/GEOSFAQ.html [zimmers.net]

    You'll have incredible speed based on the original purpose and you will also have access to many free applications.

  • by niko9 (315647) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:19PM (#25518073)

    Maybe replace the hard disk with an SSD or low power compact flash?

    If you go the CF route then check out Voyage Linux. 'Tis like Debian but made for embedded and low power machines. http://linux.voyage.hk/ [voyage.hk]

    (I use it with a PC Engines single board computer running MPD as a source for an audiophile grade USB music server. Just install th OS to CF and apt-get what you need.)

  • by Neil Jansen (955182) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:21PM (#25518087) Homepage

    Ubuntu 8.x with Netbook Remix interface installed. The desktop interface is touchscreen friendly. Window-picker applet and Maximus do a great job of saving you screen real-estate.

    • by Doug Neal (195160) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:31PM (#25518131)

      Agreed, but probably best to wait for 8.10. 8.04 falls quite short in terms of hardware support for netbooks. It is possible to get them about 85% working with a lot of manual tweaking. 8.10's newer kernel works much better with netbook hardware, and the netbook remix packages are also much better integrated.

      I also hear that Fedora 10 works nicely with netbooks, if that's your thing.. personally I much prefer something Debian based.

  • Puppy (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trenchbroom (1080559) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:23PM (#25518093)
    Puppy linux. Running it right now on my eeepc 2g surf--800 Celeron with 512 MB. Works great!
  • The hard drive on my three-year-old laptop died recently, and I replaced it with a new one. I didn't feel like jumping through hoops to prove I had a legit copy of XP to get it re-installed, or worse being unable to prove it and have to pay. So I put the latest version of Ubuntu on it and it's running smooth.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Actually that is a big power savings. I got almsot 40% more laptop battery life out of my incredibly old G4 iBook by upgrading the hard drive to a recent segate that was not only a 5200rpm drive but the newer tech. the spot where the drive sits is now drastically cooler, the ibook is faster than it ever was, and I get more life.

      Step1 - upgrade to a hard drive that uses less power.
        Bet I get more battery life from that than any OS change could give me.

  • Linux or Windows? (Score:5, Informative)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:28PM (#25518121) Journal

    If you're looking for linux recommendations, I can't recommend Mandriva 2009 enough for this purpose. With their experience with the Classmate PC, Mandriva went ahead and integrated all their smooth netbook features into their OS. Mandriva 2009 in particular now provides an available default LXDE desktop, which is far lighter than KDE or Gnome and less spartan than XFCE. In addition, any configuration settings dialogs deficient in LXDE can be made up with the Mandriva Control Center.

    On that same note, you might consider gOS 3, which will provide a lovely and lightweight interface on top of Ubuntu but customized directly for the needs of a netbook. It's a very realistic distribution, with ample codecs, default Wine, and a nice implmentation of Mozilla Prism for running web apps as desktop apps. (not that that makes any sense)

    Now, if you're looking for a Windows system, there's always Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PC's, a smooth and lightweight XP installatiion weighing in at under a gig default and using the XP embedded kernel. You can find that lyin' around somewhere on the web if you look hard enough- though you can't buy it. Oh yes, and it's full XP with no activation subsystem. ;)

    • Re:Linux or Windows? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @03:36PM (#25519617)

      Well... That slimmed down XP sounds darned interesting. I think I'll add it to my netboot options over my lan for possible installation.

      And after a long and hard search, 30 seconds later, here's the link [thepiratebay.org].

      Since you cant buy it, I see no reason why we cant download and use it. It does need a cdkey, from that which you will need yours.

  • Ok, flame-proof suit going on...

    Linux might offer some improvement, but OpenOffice is dog-slow compared to Office 2000/2002.

    So if word processing and spreadsheet use is more than minimal, I'd suggest sticking with XP, unless, perhaps, you can get Office to run under WINE.

    Just replace IE6/7 with Firefox or Chrome for web browsing, and consider Thunderbird for email.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pablomme (1270790)

      unless, perhaps, you can get Office to run under WINE

      Which you can. There are options other than OpenOffice.org for Office replacements, in any case.

    • by dhasenan (758719)

      In the past, I've experienced, say, Excel loading in a third the time of OOCalc. I've also experienced OOCalc loading much faster than Excel, and these experiences are much more recent.

      If there's a speed difference between the two, it'll probably change within the next year or two. I wouldn't use that as a basis for choosing between them.

  • Netbooks that were designed with Linux in mind will most likely experience longer battery life with a recent Linux _and_ modern distribution of your choice.

    You need to remember to insure you're using the correct module per hardware device. This really is only a problem with wireless and graphics where an alternative reverse engineered or incomplete open source driver is used instead of the full featured proprietary driver. Here's some examples:

    ati, via, nvidia, broadcom (fuck these guys, srsly)

    Then just r

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:43PM (#25518215)

    I'm using a P1510 and I love it. I don't consider it underpowered at all as long as your goal isn't to run cutting edge games. It runs XP and Linux great. Fujitsu got the netbook concept right 3 years ago when everyone else was still making SUV notebooks. I transport it in a convenient, portable DVD player case.

    The best feature is the ULV Pentium M which can be heavily undervolted to conserve battery life and reduce heat output. With the extended battery I can get 6+ hours running at 600MHz, 0.7V. For XP, set up NHC to configure the lower voltages. For Linux, use the PHC [athousandnights.de]kernel patch to override the BIOS voltage settings and configure cpufreq for ondemand at all times.

    This machine is quite usable with 512MB if you keep Windows lean on active processes. It gets better with the 1GB upgrade if you can find the memory. The only big problem with this machine is the obsolete connector for the 1.8" HD limits you to an 80GB max drive. If you're lucky you can snag a replacement cable for the newer P1620 (find a broken one cheap) that supports the newer ZIF connector.

  • by phoxix (161744) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:43PM (#25518217)
    Windows XP SP3 + nLite [nliteos.com] > Every other version of Windows.

    It works with 99.999% of everything, and doesn't suck hard like Beasta

  • Use Puppy Linux (Score:4, Informative)

    by biggaijin (126513) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:49PM (#25518255)

    I am writing this on an old Fujitsu P2010 running Puppy Linux. I am completely satisfied with this setup. A full-sized Linux distribution is slow to boot and slow to run on this machine. I used to have Ubuntu installed on it and the performance was not acceptable. Puppy boots quickly and provides all the facilities that you asked for.

  • What it came with (Score:3, Informative)

    by Matey-O (518004) <michaeljohnmiller@mSPAMsSPAMnSPAM.com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:50PM (#25518265) Homepage Journal
    I've got an AspireOne. I've had a BUNCH of different *ix's on it and ended up going back to Linpus (after using all that I'd learned on the other OS's to get it to do what I want.) Sure, it doesn't have wobbly windows, but it DOES have the latest Firefox, AND it returns dependably from sleep, has a working wifi switch, and boots in under 20 seconds. I found all I REALLY wanted in that form factor was FireFox 3 (F11 full screen is GREAT), and a shell. recompiling the Wifi drivers with every Ubuntu kernel update was getting to be a PITA.
  • I have Ubuntu 8.04 running on a Fujitsu 7010. The reason is that the laptop is very light, a feature I seek for extended travel. But battery life, my other top desired feature, is still poor ... maybe 3 hours tops. I have found that Ubuntu can't do hibernate or suspend with this machine and that is rather important for extending battery life. My conclusion has been to order an AspireOne in the hopes of getting extended battery life (apparently up to 6 hours).

    I don't think software is the answer in your

  • OS != distribution (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @12:54PM (#25518297)

    Clearly, the best OS is Linux, or perhaps an nLite-d version of Win98. HOWEVER, assuming you do mean Linux, don't confuse the OS with the distribution. Remember, the choice of WM is yours not tied to the OS.

  • eeebuntu Standard Edition seems to be working out great on my eee. Everything just works right out of the box. Installation was a bit of a bitch though.
  • Oh, and you might try finding something that throttles the CPU clock back. I've been wondering about this since using the Irex Iliad e-book machine. In attempts to extend battery life in the Iliad, the CPU freq is throttled back. Is there any software that does that dynamically say when running a word processor, surfing, email, etc.?

    • do you mean throttled or scaled, either way its part of the kernel of most modern operating systems, for more control there are userspace controllers for all OSs too.

  • by Miseph (979059)

    Before my third hand Pentium III laptop's screen died I was running standard (Gnome) Ubuntu on it just fine. The was around Feisty, mind you, but so long as I turned off the beryl-compiz effects and kept an eye on what extraneous packages I installed it ran like a champ on 512 MB of memory and an 8 GB hdd. Battery life was also decent until the battery wore out, but once I replaced it I could use it for a couple of hours with sound and networking on battery.

    I'd imagine that Ubuntu with Gnome would work fine

  • by djelovic (322078) <dejan&jelovic,com> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @01:17PM (#25518475) Homepage

    This will get modded down or up as funny as anything mentioning Microsoft here, but I have to say it: Vista will work fine.

    I have a five year old old HP TC1100 tablet that has a 1.1 GHz Celeron inside. I use it for web surfing, reading and watching TV shows or movies when I take my dog to the park. It had XP Tablet PC edition on it.

    Two months ago the hard disk died (I'm pretty hard on hardware) so I decided to try Vista, which I heard has an improved UI for tablet PCs. So I went out and bought a gig of RAM for $40 thus upgrading the computer to 1.5 gigs. I replaced the hard disk with an ancient 4200 IDE disk I had in a drawer somewhere. Then I installed Vista.

    Verdict: Big improvement. Vista really does the whole Tablet PC thing better and the computer with the new RAM feels more responsive than it ever did.

    Dejan

  • Tablets typically don't play very well under linux, with subpar handwriting recognition and at least with older fujitsus they lack drivers for screen rotation and tablet button functionality. I got a recommendation for openSUSE but it was still rather difficult to get half the functionality.

    However, your tablet is quite dated, so I would recommend a custom tablet XP installation using nlite or similar tools. Bumping up the ram to 1gb should make it tolerable.

  • I still use my little Sharp Actius PC-MM10 for travel. It's certainly underpowered with a 1GHz transmeta chip, fixed 256MB of RAM, and a 15GB hard drive. I net installed the basic Ubuntu 7.10 and then added xorg and fluxbox. I would not call it snappy, but it does everything I need it to do. It is smaller than an Apple Air. Here is a photo [flickr.com].

  • FREEEEE (Score:4, Informative)

    by Yeb (7194) <moe@alephobject s . c om> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @02:43PM (#25519231) Homepage

    http://freeeee.org/ [freeeee.org]

    FREEEEE - 100% Free Software GNU/Linux for Eee

  • You should use Linux as your OS for netbook, you have wide range of different distributions of it where you can easily choose what kind software system you like. Example, select a minimal system and what installer can be started from USB stick. Then install OS + basic system to get a commandline and install all needed software from network. Of course you need to compile your OS self (Linux kernel) to get all power savings etc if it has not done for you.

    For distributions I would suggest just a one, not Ubunt

  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @04:12PM (#25519943)

    The XFCE is the important part - any distribution that offers it should be roughly equivalent in power usage and speed. I use it on a P4-1.4GHz with 768MB of RAM and it boots almost exactly TWICE as fast as my friend's six-month old Vista desktop. I'm not sure what processor/ram combo he has, but a six-month old desktop from Lenovo should be able to easily beat my ancient computer.

    Three things I like about this configuration:

    1-It uses next to nothing in resources.
    2-It's easy to setup. For example, I haven't looked at shutting down unnecessary services, etc. I could probably get a pretty good speed boost if I did.
    3-XFCE's user interface is similar enough to KDE/Windows that I don't notice the difference. Some window managers behave so differently, it is very jarring to try and use them.

  • by denominateur (194939) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:10PM (#25521481) Homepage

    I have just acquired a hp tc1100 tablet and am happily using ubuntu on it. It does require a fair bit of configuration though.

    1) ubuntu now comes with xorg auto configuration, you need to undo that and write a custom xorg.conf to include tablet support (plenty of guides out there)

    2) you need to modify /etc/gdm/Init/Default to launch an on screen keyboard (OSK) so you can log in and /etc/gdm/PreLogin/Default to kill the OSK after logging in if you want to use another one for normal text entry. Also, you need to turn off the fancy login screen and use the plain one

    3) get cellwriter and train it, it's good and comes with an integrated OSK

    4) configure your drivers to support RandR and use the script here http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Wacom_Serial_Tablet_PC_Stylus [thinkwiki.org] to enable rotation between portrait and landscape mode

    5) if you are using intrepid and have nvidia hardware, nvidia binary blob drivers will not work yet (nvidia has not updated for new xorg yet)

    6) xournal is easily comparable to windows journal but requires a bit of fiddling to get the preferences just right. Also, it has drawing problems if you set your zoom level to anything BELOW fit to width

    7) I use opera for browsing as the sidepane menu is so versatile. Also, it supports drag scrolling by setting the about:config options "scroll is drag"

    8) evince unfortunately only supports drag scrolling using the middle mouse button and does not offer any way of configuring that. (bugs have been submitted though)

  • by BitwizeGHC (145393) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:39PM (#25522857) Homepage

    Arch Linux with a stripped down desktop (i.e., no KDE, no GNOME, something light and simple like fvwm or fluxbox) fills my needs wonderfully.

    But that's me.

  • by itzdandy (183397) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nosnednad.> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @11:10PM (#25523051) Homepage

    Reguardless of the posts that say they get better battery life on linux, there is an overwhelming amount of information on generally poor battery life on linux.

    To clarify, I dont think this is some sort of technical weakness but rather a lack of focus on laptops by many linux developers. This is quickly changing also.

    One of the big things is that video drivers for linux are not as mature and often lack power saving options or have power saving options that are inferior to the windows driver, again from lack of focus.

    I currently have a dell E1505 and a thinkpad t61. The dell has an ATI x1400 and that is the main issue for battery life. It does have some power management options but they are poorly implemented in the linux drivers(both binary and open source). The thinkpad on the other hand has an intel video chip and is very close in battery life to windows AFTER I tweaked a bunch of things like swappiness to avoid hitting the hard drive for cache a lot and a number of other things.

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