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I want to run a big feature on Moblin and on netbook software; something that will complement all the hardware hard work that MikeS put in for our cover feature a couple of months ago. But I'm a bit worried: I'm not sure how many of you are interested in such a beast. Are you closet netbook fanboys? Do you want to be closet netbook fanboys? Do you see netbook distros as a great way to breathe new life into ageing computers?

I'm also thinking of running a coding series on Clutter, because it's a lot of fun. The question is, would you prefer we write that tutorial using Clutter's native C, or using Python and the PyClutter binding? Or are we just crazy and should leave Clutter well alone?

Your comments

Netbook issue? Yes!

An issue looking at netbook distros and such? I'd buy it.

Bring it!

I'd most definitely love to see Moblin in depth. Particularly, show us how to use a desktop of our choice instead of the Moblin default. My project is having Linux in my car so I want an OS that'll boot ASAP.

Why not Kubuntu Netbook Edition?

How about including the Kubuntu Netbook Edition (KDE4 based) as well? I find it conspicuously missing from your list of to-be-reviewed netbook interfaces.
Its deja vu for me all over again when Linux Format conveniently ignores everything done by the KDE guys and when there are enough complaints, releases a "special" KDE edition. Seriously, you guys! Don't be so obvious with your hate campaign against KDE!!

duncan mk

Yes! As the proud new owner of a Dell Inspiron with an SSD, I'd like to see more about Netbooks. I read the "BBC Takes on Linux" - - and was in general agreement with both the original article and your reply: but I've never liked UBUNTU.

I moved to Linux when IBM stopped supporting OS/2 for the masses and have stuck, pretty consistently, with SuSE (with forays into Mandrake, PCOS and others). I'm not an inexperienced user. The distro arrived with the libxcb-shape0 library broken: I had to replace it before I could install any upgrades. I've downloaded both gnome-commander & klipper through the Add/Remove function but neither of them appear to have made it onto the system, This is not good.

What I would like to see are some pointers about how to boot from a thumb drive and how to install a new OS. OK! I can install an OS standing on my head if I've got a nice large HD and DVD drive bit I am unsure wwhat to do in my new environment.

I think the Netbook is a brilliant idea. I'm typing this, in bed with the dog beside me, while listening to Thursday night's Late Junction, courtesy of the BBC iPlayer, over the headphones. Magic!

duncan mk


I have two laptops. One is a work provided Vista machine, the second is an Advent badged MSI Wind running mandriva.
In short, everything that is not work is done on Mandriva, and for me, it is the bees knees. Frankly could not live without that little machine. My job takes me all over the world [ I am sitting on LibreVille, Gabon as a type this on my little laptop]. I don't get to read the mag' often, due to travelling, but when I do catch up, a 'netbook special' would go down a treat.
Do it, write that article!!!!


... and another thing.
Part of the reason I settled on Mandriva was that most of the other distros could not handle the small screen, 100%.
Example, in Ubuntum, the mail client was below the bottom of the screen, which meant scrolling up and down all the time. Only a small issue I know, but it is small issues like that which make or break a distros.
So, if you do run the article, please look at the 'little things' as well, and not just the release numbers and code stuff.
There are people out there who are not too interested in coding but just want the machine to work. I am 100% one of these.
I appreciate the work that others do to let me be this lazy, but I just want the machine to work. Easily. Mandriva does exactly what I need.
In the screen space I have without the need to scroll.....

I'd like to see Jolicloud

I'd like to see Jolicloud included. It's still in alpha, but runs well on my Samsung n310.

Faster, lighter, battery operated - embedded?

This is about more than Netbooks, however when they made the first appearance, I saw hope: A computer for sailboats that did not drain the batteries! Not in the shape of a netbook but as a blackbox plus 8 -10 inch monitor. (Think car computing). The challenge is to strip most parts of a normal distro away, super light configurable GUI. (Did look at Matchbox). This would be more like a semi-embedded system, more flexible (and less costly) than dedicated marine electronics. Yes, there is general computers for boats, but running on a platform that completely misses the target. (Try to use an office like software in 6 foot waves).

So, yes the concept of Moblin makes an awful lot of sense outside the Netbook.

Happy sailing!

netbooks and C sounds like

netbooks and C sounds like fun:)
It would be real nice to read about that.

Netbooks Distro Rematch

I read your prior netbook distro article,( the fact I own an EEE901 has nothing do do with my interest, really nothing). I am currently running EEEBuntu and have loved the way it runs. I would love a rematch with new alternatives in distro's to keep my EEE fun to run.


I bough an eee 901 with its crippled Xandros OS a while ago. I got fed up really quick, so I dumped Xandros, tried a couple of "netbook-specific" distros, and ended up using a straight Ubuntu 9.04 installation (I am in the process of upgarding to 9.10). It is working perfect (almost: hibernation didn't work, but 9.10 seems ot have fixed this issue), and it does everything I do on my desktop and my "regular" notebook (no: I don't play games on line, or watch streaming video, so I may not be typical...). I think netbooks (or maybe "smartbooks"?) are fabulous, and Linux is the ideal OS for them (what, run XP, which is an orphan??), but I am always open to other possibilities, besides Ubuntu (I like it, but I hate the fact that, currently, I am running it on all my working computers :( ). The main points I feel need to be covered are:

* if you need a simplified interface and lighter software, great, but stuff like multiple desktops, and standard applications (or, better said, support for standard formats, like *odt and such) must be an option.
* in any case, upgrading to a richer experience (as above) must not be hidden, but, rather, right up in your face
* a realistic bound of on what can work on the (small) screen, and the (limited) power would be really helpful, lest we let our enthusiasm get the bets of ourselves...

Yip good idea

I think this would make for a great article. Clutter is 4 years old, and now has bindings for Windows and Mac. So you are not wasting time as a developer in learning this.

I feel the Python bindings would be a good place to start. It's easy to show something working quickly, and a cool language.

As for Netbooks. I've read an article showing that Linux Netbooks are doing rather well in emerging markets:

So I'd see that there is going to be a deamand for applications built for this type of device, and having your app 'annimate' is going to be expected due to the i-phone age. This type of UI is now 'expected' for app's running on devices with limited screen sizes. So developers are going to have to 'get artisitc' if we want to create emersive cool app's. Clutter is a step in the right direction.

Kind regards from Nicholas Herriot of the Betavine team.

What I'd really like to see

is an article about the state of OSS Java, and a roadmap to getting a SINGLE shared Java library that all apps would use.

Acer Aspire One A110

Personally I've now ditched the remixed distro's as Ubuntu 9.10 seems to work out of the box on my Aspire One and I even seem to be getting better battery life, which with the 9 cell beast I have, means over 9-10 hours.

For those with good knowledge of where things are in the chosen distro I'm not sure what the advantages are of using UNR or the other net book distro's but for new users I'm sure it makes it easy if the desktop just has a load of big Icons with Internet, e-mail, document etc as this is what for the majority of users they are for. Probably I would probably skip over it myself but I think an article is warranted for potential new users and it would be good as a reference when recommending a particular distro to family and friends who are not so clued up.


I would like more information about alternative OS for netbooks. I have an eeePC-1000, running eeeBuntu. I tried various other distros (unr, puppy and other *buntu flavours) but have settled on eeeBuntu in Standard mode as being fairly similar to the plain Ubuntu 9.04 I use on a Shuttle desktop.

I often try a distro by running any live version on a USB key. A quick guide for others in how to do this would also be useful, probably.

More Netbooks... and Java

I'd be very interested in seeing a roundup of Netbook OSs - I currently use Eeebuntu on my eeePC 901, but am a little concerned by the recent news that it'll be based upon Debian in future and not Ubuntu.

I'd also like to second the suggestion that you run a coding series based upon Java. I've never understood why it receives so little coverage - expecially as it's open source now. Given the choice between Mono and Java, I'd choose to code in Java every time, as it's fully cross platform, mature and not dependant upon another base language stack (i.e. Microsoft's .NET).

Hope this makes sense, and hope to see some interesting articles over the coming months!


moblin rocks!

Canonical and Dell are doing a moblin respin
maybe? Linux Format should follow the progress of "Ubuntu Moblin Remix"

Moblin v2.1 runs very well but lack of 3g modem support is poor. Only sony ericsson 3g modems are supported as of yet.
Until 3g is sorted out i'll continue to use ubuntu-9.10-i386 on my netbook.

go for it

I run UNR on an Acer Aspire One. Some colleagues are using NC10s (which look good too). I wrote about my experience at (et seq) and would be interested in a comparison of distros on various netbooks. The problem you face is the "perm any 8 from 10" issue - there are a lot of different bits of hardware to choose from and then you need to run different distros on that hardware for comparison.

Good luck.

(and if you find a way to get Sony memory sticks to work on an AAO, please write it up.......)


Please do and do with Python.


I would love to see a tutorial on Clutter or the Python key bindings for it. I would much rather run a minimal desktop WM on old hardware then run a netbook distro.

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