Doesn't Not Compute

My log of experiences with GNU/Linux and computers in general.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 Beta 1

UbuntuAfter yet another trial of attempting to install the obsolete PSB drivers for my Acer Aspire One 751h’s Pouslbo (aka US15W) chipset, and then failing several times attempting to build the current IEGD driver, I’ve given up. I’m replacing Arch Linux with another distro — I love Arch, but in this one case it’s just TOO cutting-edge, leaving me with painfully slow Flash video.

So what did I pull from the Interwebz? A distro that is still in beta, has the same Xorg 1.7 graphics server that the PSB drivers cannot work with, and is noticeably slower. :roll:

I downloaded the Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 beta 1 CD image, used unetbootin to put it on an SD card (couldn’t find my flash drive :roll:), and rebooted the netbook. I pressed F12 to get a boot device menu, and chose the SD card. It booted without any problems, aside from the usual display mode change flickerings, booted into the netbook interface.

The final release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is available. :)

Interface

I’ve used older versions of Ubuntu, including the original Netbook Remix, and wasn’t impressed. It just lacked elegance, I don’t know how to describe that better. That’s opinion has been completely changed, just in time for the next Long-Term Support release.

Yes, the background is purple. But it’s not solid purple, and its highlights work very well with the gray transparency of the interface. For those not familiar with the netbook remix interface, see the above picture. One toolbar at the top, and maximized applications’ title bars merged into that titlebar.

If you click on the Files tab, you get the view in the picture above — a stack of mounted filesystems, the main folders (Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Downloads) in your home directory, and your recently opened files. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to add more directories  to the Folders list. :(

One other thing in the interface that doesn’t work like I expected: the scrollbar (the dark vertical bar on the right in the screenshot above) doesn’t scroll the list. The list scrolls it. Like in Adobe Reader, you click and drag the list upwards to scroll down. The scroll bar will move down to indicate position in the list, but you can’t drag the scrollbar to move the list. Go figure. :shock:

Firefox follows Ubuntu’s icon theme, as usual. Frankly, it looks better than the generic Tango theme — no offense to those behind the Tango icon project. However, the waste of screen real estate here is atrocious. See for yourself! Then imagine how little space is left when you’re in the WordPress editor writing blog posts. (Hint: height of address bar and bookmark bar combined again on top, and a second status bar at the bottom.) (Second hint: not much.)

Ubuntu 10.04's Firefox interface

If you read my last post, you already know how to fix that, though, and help bring this interface fully up to par. ;)

Application Software

The selection of applications seems to be the same as standard Ubuntu.

  • Office Suite: OpenOffice 3.2
  • Instant Messaging Client: Empathy 2.29.92
  • Webcam Software: Cheese 2.29.92
  • Internet Browser: Firefox 3.6
  • Email Client: Evolution 2.28.3
  • Bittorrent Client: Transmission 1.91
  • Music Player: Rhythmbox 0.12.7
  • Photo Manager: F-Spot 0.6.1.5
  • Microblogging Client: Gwibber 2.29.92.1
  • Movie Player: Totem Movie Player 2.29.91

Core Software (kernel, graphics server, desktop environment,)

  • Linux kernel 2.6.32
  • Xorg Xserver 1.7.6
  • GNOME 2.28

Note that the application versions may change as this beta approaches release date. For example, I ran an update/upgrade while writing this, and now the Empathy client is at Empathy 2.29.93. A lot of stuff updated on that one . . . :lol: Also, note what is NOT in the list of core software: HAL. I expect K. Mandla will be very happy with this. ;)

Performance

Obviously this aspect is hampered by the impossibility of running the so-called driver for the graphics chipset. Despite this, Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04 still manages a respectable boot-up time on my Acer Aspire One 751h — 34 seconds from GRUB2 to the time the cursor stops spinning — and faster program load times than I experienced with 9.04, or even 9.10.

Moving or resizing windows results in slow (nearly two-second) redrawing, but due to the behavior of many programs defaulting to opening fully maximized this isn’t as annoying as you would think. However, playing video is a royal pain, if not unbearable and impossible. Also, it’s impossible to get the full resolution of the 1366×768 screen.

This is NOT because of Ubuntu, it’s a hardware support problem. I suspect that Intel will update their IEGD driver sometime in the future to work with Xserver 1.7, since Ubuntu IS the most popular GNU/Linux+Xserver  distro, and this will be the newest Long Term Support edition. (And hopefully will correct the issue of thread support for VAAPI HD video decoding :evil:) I’ve mentioned ways of getting full resolution on this netbook before, but I’ll post an Ubuntu-specific how-to on that soon.

When it comes to battery life, the removal of HAL makes it just a little bit trickier to enable laptop_mode. Instead of simply inputing,

sudo apt-get install laptop-mode-tools

it is necessary to use

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends laptop-mode-tools sdparm ethtool

to avoid pulling HAL in again. And, it’s impossible to avoid uninstalling the “pm-utils-powersave-policy” package”. I have no clue what horrors that entails. :mrgreen:

One Issue . . .

. . . and it has to be the Linux-infamous suspend-not-working. I don’t mind this much, however, because 34 seconds isn’t long to wait for boot-up, and I’m sure I can shave it down a lot. Besides, the only time I’ve had suspend working properly on this netbook was with Linux Mint 8, with the Poulsbo driver installed, so this probably isn’t an Ubuntu-specific issue.

Concluding Impressions

This is going to be a great update. Faster, a bit lighter, and stable enough for my purposes — even in beta. And my purposes get very annoyed by crashes. All I have to do is prevent the netbook from entering “Suspend” mode, since the screen doesn’t wake up when coming from suspend.

The interface is elegant and (for me, anyway) very intuitive. As much as I love Arch, I may stick with Ubuntu 10.04 for a while, and tweak it for additional performance. I’ve gathered a lot of tricks for that over the past year and a half of using GNU/Linux, so that should make for an interesting post. If K. Mandla doesn’t get to it first :lol:

Legal Disclaimer: I am not associated with Canonical in any way, usage of one of their products excepted. All logos and the name “Ubuntu” are trademarked by Canonical. Yes I have the legalese disclaimer there in the sidebar, I’m just being extra-careful.

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7 responses to “Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 Beta 1

  1. chris griffith March 27, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Hi Mulenmar,

    I have noticed that you have been trying to use my packages to get psb running on archlinux. Those packages are out of date now. I need to spend the time to update them, but just have not gotten there yet. Also, I have been working to make a pkgbuild of iegd 10.3.1 drivers for testing. I arrived at a similar conclusion as you a few months back. Arch is just too cutting edge for my netbook. So I have been running UNR 9.10 with psb drivers. I have been very satisfied. The only thing I can’t do is watch HD video online. Of course I would like to upgrade to Lucid UNR, but psb or iegd drivers just don’t work with xorg xserver 1.7.x. So, if I finally get psb packages updated for arch, or if I get iegd packages working, maybe you can us them.

    • mulenmar March 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

      That I will do, and I’ll update this blog and the Arch wiki on how to use them.:)

      I expect that Intel will update their IEGD driver to work with Xserver 1.7.x sometime this year, since this new version of Ubuntu uses it and will be a LTS release. *crosses fingers*

  2. Dude April 25, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Thanks for posting these screenshots. It wasn’t easy to find them. I think it looks better than the old UNR interface. The old one was too cluttered. I plan to install Ubuntu 10.04 on my netbook.

    I’m still debating the desktop version versus the UNR version. The desktop version looks more like a REAL computer. It could impress more chicks at the coffee house. The UNR version could make my comptuer look wimpy. On the other hand, I can see the display when I can’t find my glasses. It’s a tough choice for a 10.1 inch screen.

    • mulenmar April 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      No problem! :D

      The interface is more-or-less the same as it was in 9.10, just with different icons and a purple background. At least it was when I wrote this post, there has been another beta since then and the release candidate is out.

      On the “chicks at the coffee house”: you’re on a netbook. Not the most “masculine” of machines. Use the best tool for the job, which in your case seems to be the UNR interface. Or you could try Kubuntu — as I understand it, the KDE 4 Plasma interface was specifically designed to scale well to netbooks.

  3. Dude April 25, 2010 at 6:41 am

    One more thing. I never did like the orange Ubuntu theme. I think the purple theme is much better. It sort of looks like Mac OSX, rather than Windows. It’s a nice change.

  4. Pingback: Another “Ubuntu is Overweight, I Like Arch Linux” Rant « Doesn't Not Compute

  5. Pingback: Re: Asking Me To Link to Your Blog/Website « Doesn't Not Compute

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