Jun 6 2010

MeeGo Netbook Platform

Maybe netbook manufacturers are showing MeeGo a lot of love at Computex this year. Novell is developing an OpenSuse version of MeeGo that should be available on netbooks within the next year. Linpus as well will be delivering their own flavor of MeeGo borrowing some elements from their already available Linpus Lite for netbooks.

Success would be impossible without the hardware side but luckily MeeGo has allies in that camp as well.  Quanta and Intel are collaborating on a 10-inch MeeGo tablet hopefully coming out next year. Other companies that have pledged support include:  Acer, Asus, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, and Orange. MeeGo will be a powerful force come 2011.

meegovia ars

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May 28 2010

New Version of Linux for Netbooks Released

The Linux Foundation released a new version of its open-source OS, MeeGo, this week. MeeGo is for netbooks with Intel Atom processors.

MeeGo v1.0 is more for developers than regular users. It is comprised of Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo operating systems. It has applications for email, calendars, recently used files, and social networking updates, among other things. It also has support for multiple languages.

MeeGo has been tested on Atom netbooks from Asus, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, and HP. People have generally liked MeeGo, though some have reported problems with getting its WiFi to work properly.

Before MeeGo, many versions of Linux were either for desktops or smartphones. The director of the Linux Foundation said that he thinks the foundation should focus on developing a platform that can be used on a wide variety of devices. Intel and Nokia have said they can see MeeGo being used on more devices beyond netbooks.

Via InformationWeek, image via MeeGo.

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May 10 2010

Use Ubuntu Light and Boot Up Your Netbook in 7 Seconds

If you want to be able to boot up your netbook at a super fast pace, you should try Ubuntu Light.  This version of Ubuntu will allow you to boot up your computers in 7 seconds flat.  Even though the naming convention of the platform may be misleading, this Linux distribution is by no means light on performance.  It still offers all the relevant tools that come with any standard desktop operating system, including access to a web browser and office suite, security features, and compatibility with lots of third party applications.

The tried and tested hardware that allowed Ubuntu Light to boot up in 7 seconds was a Dell Inspiron Mini 10v netbook with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor.  Given that the processor is a bit dated, I’m sure the newer netbooks would have equal if not better performance in terms of boot up times.

Via UberGizmo.

Mar 27 2010

OpenPeak’s OpenTablet 7 Bets It All On Flash

The world’s attention has been focused on Apple’s purportedly revolutionary iPad since its introduction a few months back.  Apple, of course, managed to astound the world despite its lack of Flash support.  However, there were plenty who complained about this lack of Flash, which got other tablet makers thinking how to exploit this complaint.  And OpenPeak took this iPad weakness to its unfortunate logical extreme.

Behold: the OpenPeak OpenTablet 7.  It is a Linux tablet running on the Intel Moorestown 1.9 GHz chip.  For those of you who don’t remember, Moorestown is an Atom-derived CPU for mobile platforms like smartphones.  What is more interesting, however, is the fact that the Linux base is all wrapped up under a Flash interface layer.  Despite this, the UI is well polished and very responsive. The screen is a 7” 1024 x 600 LCD. There are some other interesting features like a 1080p front facing webcam, 5 MP rear camera, microSD slot, and HDMI out.

Still, to use a Flash interface is peculiar, as Flash isn’t exactly cherished for its performance abilities.  Moreover, Flash is a dying technology.  The Apple detractors do not claim that Flash will stay as a permanent application platform, they simply point out the lack of Flash allows Apple and software developers to remake free Flash sites into pricey apps.  The OpenPeak tablet is targeted to very niche markets, namely home automation and video conferencing based on the press interviews. It will be paired up with AT&T and will probably be priced comparably to the iPad.  Let’s see if it can stay alive long enough to be relevant.

Via Engadget.

Mar 15 2010

Qi Hardware’s Ben Nanonote Hobbyist Toy

In the world of small and portable computers, there are netbooks. Then there are smartbooks.  And then there is the Ben Nanonote.  This little “handheld laptop” is a class on its own.  Looking like a cross between a Nintendo DS and an electronic dictionary, the device is supposed to be an easily hackable Linux computer.  The goal: developers will turn it into some sort of media player, offline dictionary/encyclopedia, or some other random device.  Here are the specs:

  • 3″ 320×240 Resolution LCD
  • 336 MHz XBurst JZ4720 CPU
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 2 GB Flash Memory
  • Expandable MicroSD Card Slot
  • No Wi-Fi
  • One Massive Bevel

There really is not that much incentive for people to buy these, except for the $99 price tag. But even that can quickly be overshadowed by the fact that the Nanonote is easily outperformed by a smartphone.  Still if tinkering is your thing, it might be worth a look.

Via Engadget

Mar 11 2010

MeeGo To Have Public Code By March

It was announced last month that Nokia and Intel were going on a joint venture to create an open-source Linux based mobile platform.  This effort, dubbed “MeeGo”, would be a combination of Intel’s Moblin OS, shipped on various netbooks, and Nokia’s Maemo platform, at the heart of the N900 Phone.  It is to be used on all sorts of products with both ARM and x86 architectures. By the end of this month, the companies hope to be able to release the source code to the public.

MeeGo is arguably the first truly open developed mobile OS.  Intel and Nokia are asking the Linux Foundation to watch over the development process, in order to dispel worries of corporatism and encourage 3rd-party involvement.  The first step will be to reconcile the differences between Moblin and Maemo.  Fortunately, they both have the same technical core, but ideological differences on direction and methodology will need to be addressed before MeeGo has a shot of becoming a coherent platform.

Nokia plans on supporting N900 users to MeeGo, at least initially.  This will allow a bounty of Linux enthusiasts to jump into the development cycle at the early stage. MeeGo will also stay in line with the fundamental Linux kernel build cycle, meaning it will eventually stand in stark contrast to Google’s Android platform.  Android uses a heavily modified Linux kernel, and is showing signs of diverging from the development tree entirely.

There are other major differences between Android and MeeGo.  Google, while making Android’s source code public, had a tightly closed development cycle, dumping onto developers massive amount of code with every release.  Intel and Nokia seem to be taking the more traditional route of Linux development; like Canonical’s methodology with Ubuntu, they will try to get 3rd party involvement from Linux and MeeGo users to help direct efforts.  Google now has real competition for the open source community’s blessing.

Via Ars Technica

Mar 2 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 Joins The Tweetosphere With Gwibber

Ubuntu Linux has strived for years to become everyman’s Linux distro, and with 10.04 it stands one step closer to winning the hearts and minds of the archetypal Web 2.0 resident: the social networker.

Facebook, Twitter, and even the fiasco known as Google Buzz, all are permanent residents of the internet’s lexicon, but for the most part operating systems have taken little notice.  There were little nudges, however, but only one has shown much integration between OS and the social realm.

Behold, Gwibber, GNOME’s microblogging client for your favorite social network.  It provides easy to your desktop updates of all the miniscule details about what your friends are up to, and allows you to change your status across multiple platforms.  Ubuntu approved of the idea, and with their blessing added Gwibber as standard on all Ubuntu ISOs, following 9.04.

Now, there appears to be a greater goal than simply providing their users a convenient program for posting tweets and status updates.  Ubuntu has added a Me Menu in the 10.04 alpha, allowing users to input their current status directly from the OS taskbar.  And their application of choice for handling all this work is tethered to a new and improved Gwibber client.

Still, how serious of a shift is Canonical making in terms of OS-Internet balance?  Given Ubuntu’s market share, probably not that much.  Still, this is a step forward, and it will be interesting to see what will follow.

Via Ars Technica.

Feb 15 2010

Linux’s Tablet Answer: Notion Ink ADAM

The iPad has yet to hit shelves, and yet it has already become clear that a tablet war will likely consume much consumer attention in 2010.  Apple, to much applause, has announced its champion, and Windows will likely respond with an arsenal of 3rd party devices. But who will carry the open source community’s banner into the fray?  Joojoo Tablet has fallen from favor once it became clear it would run a browser-based OS, and the other Android tablets have failed to garner much attention.

Notion Ink’s ADAM appears to be standing ready to fill this hole. It’s a Linux-based tablet that already has set its eye on defeating the iPad, and the spec list does not seem to betray it in that regard:

  • 10″ Transflective LCD, Pixel Qi Screen 1024 x 600 with low power mode
  • Multitouch capacitive screen
  • Dual Core ARM Cortex A9 with NVidia Tegra 2
  • HDMI 1080p Out
  • 3 USB Ports
  • Battery life: 160 hours backlight off, 16 hours video playback
  • Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth
  • Multitasking
  • Rear trackpad
  • Adobe Flash Support
  • Camera
  • SD Card Slot

The truly revolutionary component on this tablet is its screen, which incorporates Pixel Qi technology to give a similar experience as e-Ink when the backlight is off. This gives the tablet its godly battery life,  and allows it to directly challenge the reading experience of eReaders.  It is a powerful tablet, and the device’s multitasking with Flash support is undoubtedly a response to the iPad’s inability to do either.

Still, this thing comes with some weird quirks. It is unclear what the OS shall be on this tablet, as three are listed in the spec sheet (Android, Ubuntu, Chromium). Pricing is  highly variable, $327-800, but still easily competitive with Apple.  All that remains is to see how well Notion Ink will market this and get public support behind it.  For now, it seems like Linux’s best shot to take the mainstream.

Via Gizmodo, image via Notion Ink.

Feb 14 2010

KDE 4.4 Released With Netbooks In Mind

KDE Plasma Netbook
Since my dad taught me how to dual-boot Mandrake Linux 7 with Windows ME in my early pre-teen years, I have not owned a single computer that hasn’t had a Linux distribution on it.  And for many years, KDE was my desktop manager of choice.   Sometime around KDE 3.4, I deemed KDE too clunky and left it to experiment with other desktop managers.

Still, I never forgot about my roots in the Linux world, and indeed KDE 4 brought KDE significantly forward towards modern desktops.  Now, KDE seems to be turning towards everyone’s favorite rising PC market: netbooks. KDE 4.4 is a massive version release touting 7293 bug fixes and 1433 new feature implementations. The  result is a promised new, cleaner experience, with the majority of the changes relating to the actual Plasma desktop.

Specifically for netbooks, KDE has made this particular announcement:

Plasma Netbook debuts in 4.4.0. Plasma Netbook is an alternative interface to the Plasma Desktop, specifically designed for ergonomic use on netbooks and smaller notebooks. The Plasma framework has been built from the beginning with non-desktop target devices in mind as well. Plasma Netbook shares many components with the Plasma Desktop, but is specifically designed to make good use of the small space, and to be more suitable also for touchscreen input. The Plasma Netbook shell features a full-screen application launcher and search interface, and a Newspaper which offers many widgets to display content from the web and small utilities already known from Plasma Netbook’s sibling.

This means KDE is stepping up to the plate for a true netbook experience.  I tried KDE 4.4 on my laptop, but haven’t used it enough to consider switching away from GNOME.  Still, it is good to see that the Linux community is viewing netbooks as a legitimate shot to enter the mainstream market. And KDE is arguably the most Windows-esque desktop manager providing an easier transition for first time users. If you want to give it a spin, go download any KDE based Linux distribution (i.e. Kubuntu, openSUSE).

Via KDE.

Feb 8 2010

Ubuntu Axes OpenOffice From Netbook Edition 10.04

OpenOffice.org Logo

Ubuntu Netbook Edition probably is the best shot for a layman’s attempt at Linux on a netbook.  Surprisingly, Ubuntu now appears to be making strange software decisions left and right.  Canonical has announced that UNE 10.04 will not come with OpenOffice, long deemed the open-source Microsoft Office challenger, and will change the default office service to Google Docs.

Now, while the premise and case for Web 3.0 and Cloud Computing seems strong, Google Docs has oft been criticized as an incomplete suite, with limited functionality at best. It does not have the same richness which makes OpenOffice at least comparable to Microsoft Office. Also, this decision comes in stark contrast to Canonical’s move to ditch Google as the primary search engine for Firefox.

Other software changes include the fact that Gimp has been removed from Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 and graphics programs in general from UNE, Tomboy Notes removed from UNE, and gbrainy (a brain teaser game) has been added.  While it’s understood that developers are trying to optimize application selection for netbook users, they run the risk of alienating Linux newcomers by limiting their options.

Via Slashdot.

Feb 2 2010

Linux Foundation Chief Admits Linux Lacks Apple iPad “Magic”


Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director, identified the inhibiting factor to mobile Linux’s growth on his blog last week, in response to the iPad’s launch.  It was not a specific hardware or  software defect he mentioned, but instead the culture of the Linux product world.  Quite simply, he said, “Apple’s consistent user experience is far closer to magical than most things currently running Linux”.  It is a sobering but honest point that he makes regarding one of the iPad’s indisputable advantages.

The iPad, despite its lack of features and questionable pricing scheme, is fairly immune to attacks regarding its UI.  If staying true to the iPhone formula, it will likely capture the attention of  general market and garner acclaim for its smoothness and user experience.  This elegant performance that Apple boasts is something that has eluded Linux interfaces for decades now.  Only recently have its desktop platforms attained the level of consistency that people expect from an Apple OS.

Does this mean Linux already is forced to sit out in the free-for-all that is the tablet market? Far from it, argues Zemlin.  Future Linux products will be spared from the oft-called “Apple Tax” that prevents the iPad from entering impulse-buy territory.  Furthermore, even if Linux lacks the oh-so-important “magic”, it does offer something most computer users take for granted: freedom.  As stated by Zemlin:

“Apple is the most locked down closed system imaginable, from the software ladened with DRM, all the way down to the custom silicon they use for their Apple A4 chip. Commercial success is important, but freedom is also important.  “

Ultimately, what can be taken from this is that the Linux does have its sights set on cornering the mobile market, and it is not afraid to improve itself in order to get there.  Undoubtedly, it does not plan on being pushed into oblivion as it was for much of the desktop market and sees the tablet field as a chance for redemption.

Via Ars Technica.

Jan 31 2010

Yahoo and Ubuntu: An Odd Couple

A peculiar announcement came from Ubuntu’s development staff earlier this week.  On Tuesday, Rick Spencer of Canonical posted that it planned on making several minor and ultimately cosmetic changes to Firefox on Ubuntu’s next release.  The first is relatively benign, making the default Firefox homepage be the selected default search engine for Firefox’s search bar. However, the interesting part is that the new default search engine for Ubuntu will no longer be Google, but instead Yahoo!. This also effectively makes Yahoo! the new default home page.

So what’s Canonical’s explanation for this sudden and strange shift? It seems to be that the company has established a new revenue sharing deal with Yahoo! in order to help fund the Ubuntu project.  However, this will undoubtedly be unsavory to much of the original Ubuntu base for a number of reasons.

First of all, it arguably shows  that Canonical is caving into corporatism and losing the puritanical openness it’s known for.  Secondly, Yahoo! is now powered by Bing, which means this effectively becomes a revenue sharing deal between Canonical and Microsoft.

Google already has two distributions of Linux (albeit each is far from traditional distros) in the works –  Android and Chrome OS – and Microsoft has ownership over one of the most major players of Linux, Novell’s SUSE.  Whether or not Microsoft has some sort of interest in Ubuntu is unsure at best, and is probably unlikely.  However one thing is evident: major corporations will play a role in shaping Linux and open-source’s fate, regardless of what its users and adherents would wish.

Via Canonical Development Boards, image via Yahoo!.

Jan 12 2010

Guy Installs Linux on a Netbook, Best Buy Voids His Warranty

Looks like we’ve got another example of a netbook user getting royally screwed. This time it’s not from AT&T, but Best Buy. Why? Some guy has discovered that, under Best Buy’s Geek Squad Black Tie Protection Plan, installing Linux is enough to void your warranty.

The user wrote on the Consumerist blog:

“My four month-old netbook’s touchpad and power adapter all stopped working. I took the machine into Best Buy for service under the Geek Squad’s Black Tie Protection Plan on Saturday, and demonstrated its problems. The manager of the Geek Squad informed that installing Ubuntu Linux on my machine voided my warranty, and that I could only have it serviced if the original Windows installation was restored. Furthermore, he insisted that the touchpad and power adapter had been broken because I installed Linux.”

Best Buy may have a point – driver conflicts can happen if you switch OSes, so as long as Windows was restored all should be well. Right?

Not so. Apparently, the store’s Geek Squad manager told him that his installation of Linux had “permanently voided” his warranty.

It will be quite an issue if Best Buy stands by its ruling, so if I had to guess I’d expect that they either amend their policy or let the guy off the hook and replace his netbook.

Via TorrentBomb.

Dec 9 2009

Chrome Betas for Mac and Linux

Google has answered Mac and Linux user’s prayers this Tuesday by announcing that it has made betas for Chrome that will be compatible with both OSes. These are not final perfected versions of Chrome, but due to the open-source nature of Chrome they should quickly grow to become bigger and better.  Mac OS X 10.5 or later is necessary for the Chrome’s Mac beta, while the Linux beta runs on Gnome and KDE.

Chrome delivers ultra high-speed web browsing with loads of cool features. Now Mac and Linux users have a chance to judge for themselves if they will abandon their current reliable browsers for  this lightning speed (but possibly quirk-riddled) creation.

Via WebMonkey.

Nov 19 2009

Haleron Ocean Netbook OS Available for Download

Computer manufacturer Haleron is promoting a new Linux-based OS that will be able to run Linux, Windows, and Android applications. The new Linux OS is based on SUSE Linux, but it includes WINE, which will help in running Windows applications. There’s also additional software that’s included in the package that will let you run Google Android applications.

The netbook version of Haleron’s new Linux OS is 420 MB. There’s also a desktop version of Haleron’s new Linux OS. Installation can be a bit tricky, but if you’re interested, PenDriveLinux has simplified instructions on formatting a USB drive to prep for installation. The actual Haleron Ocean OS can be downloaded here. You’ll need to register for a free account.

If you test out Haleron’s new Linux OS, we’d love to hear what you think!

Nov 17 2009

Ubuntu Netbook Remix To Be Rebranded As Ubuntu Netbook Edition

Canonical has hinted that Ubuntu Netbook Remix is going to be renamed Ubuntu Netbook Edition, as found in the Blueprint for Ubuntu 10.04.

The change is more symbolic than anything, but it is a sign that netbooks are starting to get more dedicated attention. This may also be a move by Canonical to contrast the specificity of its products with  Microsoft’s. Microsoft offers OEMs a crippled version of Windows 7 in newer netbooks, and if netbook users get the hint that Canonical gives a damn about them, they may be more willing to make the switch.

Netbook Remix is mostly distinguished from ordinary Ubuntu Linux by using a series of categories (Accessories, Games, Internet, Office, etc.) rather than dropdown menus in the interface.

If you just can’t wait, you can get Ubuntu Netbook Remix from Canonical here.

Via OMGUbuntu.

Nov 5 2009

Moblin 2.1 Linux Netbook OS Released

The Moblin Linux project has finally announced a release version of Moblin 2.1 for Intel Atom machines. The new edition promises to include the “broadest feature additions, customer requested improvements, and overall polish to date”. I’m already a fan.

Specifics include improved 3G support, Bluetooth supprt, an app installer, localization improvements, a better browser, sexier UI, and naturally bug fixes and performance upgrades.

The release is a mere 745MB, so you might be able to sneak it onto a CD. Otherwise, just use a USB stick, you cheap bastard.

Moblin 2.1 is supported on both  Intel Atom and Intel Core 2 machines, but GMA-500, Nvidia and ATI graphics aren’t supported yet. Let’s cross our fingers for version 2.2.

Interested in Moblin 2.1 for your netbook? We’ve got everything you need to know right here, plus a download link for those ready to take the plunge.

Via Moblin.

Nov 4 2009

Linux Will Have Increased Presence as Netbook OS

ABI Research, whose recent projections for the netbook industry expected 35 million netbook sales for 2009, announced that in 2009 Linux will represent 32% of netbook sales. Microsoft, on the other hand, claims the number is around 7%.

Furthermore, ABI says Linux wil overtake Windows by 2013 due to netbook sales in less-developed countries.

An increasing number of netbooks running on the ARM processor are expected to propel Linux over Windows as the leading processor by 2013. This is expected to be driven by consumers in less-developed countries that buy a Linux netbook as their primary PC.

How will Microsoft react to the increased presence of Linux? Maybe it’ll start discounting the price for Windows Embedded CE or Windows Mobile, versions of the OS that are able to run on ARM processors within netbooks.

Via ComputerWorld.

Nov 1 2009

Rumors: $129 Black Friday Linux Netbook Deal

It’s November, ladies and gentlemen, and you know what that means: it’s time to count down to Black Friday!

Huliq recently included netbooks on its list of what it expects to be the most popular items this Black Friday, and has uncovered some interesting hints about what we could expect this shopping season.

Word has it that a 9″ Linux netbook will be available for an insane $129 this year. This sounds like it could come in the form of a refurbished Dell Mini 9 or Eee PC 900 series netbook, depending on who’s doing the selling.

Another popular offering could be the 15.4″ Compaq CQ-139WM, which isn’t a netbook but runs a 160 GB HDD and 2 GB of RAM for only $298.

Oct 29 2009

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 Released Today

The latest version of Ubuntu is available for download today. Unbuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 is the last interim release before the third Long Term Support Edition. All Ubuntu forks (including Kubuntu and Xubuntu) have also been updated to version 9.10.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 includes several changes from previous versions. Ext4 has replaced ext3 as the default file-system, empathy has replaced Pidgin as the instant messaging client, and the Palimpsest Disk Utility has replaced GParted as the partition manager. There are also several updates featured in Ubuntu 9.10, including updating the GRUB boot loader to version 2, Firefox to version 3.5, and GNOME to version 2.28.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 or getting it for your netbook, you can download it here.

Via TomsHardware.


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