NC10 - Top 9 Linux Distros?

For the last week I have been trying to get my Samsung NC10 ready for the heady task of being my backup writer for the novel following up to my short story "The Gardener"... more about that in an upcoming blog post.

What do I need?

  • A machine that can boot quickly, really quickly (Moblin 2 please) so that I can have Writer's Cafe open and writing within a minute.
  • Sound in and out are essential - I'm a muso and use Skype lots too
  • Internet access - goes without saying, I do all of my work in the cloud

NC10 & Linux

It's anathema that possibly the best regarded netbook since the origin of the species is one that has some painful problems when trying to get a nice working environment using Linux up and running. Now I don't mean anything fancy, I just mean basic functionality:
  1. Sound (in and out)
  2. Correct screen resolution
  3. Wifi
  4. System function controls - the key one being Brightness (essential on a netbook)
  5. Writer's Cafe - that's just for me
  6. Open Office - if you need it

As you can probably guess Wifi and Brightness are the most important, followed by Sound - and Skype is not much use without a microphone!

To this end I have installed, nine - yes nine - different operating systems onto my NC10 this week.

Why?

From previous posts you will have seen that I have been extremely happy with Windows 7 Beta on this machine. It booted faster than XP by along way, enough to be competitive with the non-lightened Linux distros like Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Mepis.

However, after persisting with Windows 7 RC1 for a couple of months I can say, they've taken the rollerskates from the elephant. The boot time takes almost a full minute longer than it did with the Beta (7000) which is just depressing and utterly useless when you want to get a snippet of text into your work before it runs away. No I don't want to use a pen.

My experience from my two Eee PCs is still a fond memory - less than a minute to boot in both the Eee PC900 and EeePC1000 with 2GB of RAM and hacked (full desktop) KDE Xandros.

Given that I work in the software industry and use Linux on a regular basis - I thought, I can do this, I can find the perfect distro for the NC10 based on the good work of others ;)

What?


Here are the distros I tried and the basic reason for rejecting each. My biggest disappointments were with gOS and Mepis - two distros that have been wonderfully produced and I rate very highly. You may notice the looming gap of Xubuntu - I have it on another laptop, which I use regularly - I tried it before and it has the same basic problems as both Ubuntu and Kubuntu.

  1. gOS 3.1 Gadgets - needed to patch the kernel to get WiFi
  2. MEPIS 8 - couldn't get the mic to work probably the same underlying problems as Ubuntu (which are well documented out there in web land)
  3. Moblin 2 Beta - it's looking fantastic but just not ready for long term use (e.g. doesn't save cookies between browsers settings yet)
  4. Ubuntu 8.10 - needed to patch the kernel to get the mic working.. that broke WiFi
  5. Kubuntu Hardy (8.0.4) - as above..
  6. Kubuntu Jaunty - psychotic WiFi connectivity.. now it's up, now it's down
  7. Dreamlinux 3 - I just didn't click with the styling
  8. Cruncheee - couldn't get the Atheros driver to work for WiFi
  9. Puppylinux - more Atheros troubles; same as this chap: http://tinyurl.com/psgxzv



Moblin 2



The sad news is that I'm back to XP Home for now (no chance of that minute for launch time and into Writer's Cafe) - and I'm going to put a dual boot partition back on to give both MEPIS and gOS another go. I love the clean interfaces of both and particularly the blatant Mac appearance of the gOS main menu.

I did think about going the Hackintosh direction but I'm not ready to trying climbing so steep a hill and I *will* try the next release of Windows 7 to see if they've got that startup issue sorted out - just too damn slow for now.

Thanks to everyone out there for putting together the various step by step guides for getting the various distributions onto these machines for those of us with a working knowledge rather than sysadmin skill with Linux.

Comments

I like to sugest you Eeebuntu. You can get it on www.eeebuntu.org Use the Standard iso not the NBR or the base. I'm using it on my NC10 and looks great. 0 configuration neeeded. Everything works, except for some considerations. 1- The battery life is a little bigger on XP. About 40 to 50 minutes. 2- Wifi is gets a little crazy on some WPA or WPA2 wifi networks. Works great on WEP, but sometimes work fine on some WPA and terribly in others. Anyway, I heard it on the web that this can be solved by replacing the aetheros drivers. Didn't get the time to do it yet.
chillyspoon said…
Good suggestion Alberto - for some reason I haven't paid much attention to either Eeebuntu or Ubuntu Remix.

I now have a different distro on my NC10 - Linux Mint 7 (Gloria) and I think it's utterly fantastic on the little platform, with just about everything working great out of the box - it has also replaced XUbuntu on my Toshiba laptop.

I'll post a full blog on that in the next couple of weeks with some screenshots.
Hello There, I have an update on that subject for you. Take a look at this: http://www.voria.org/forum/showthread.php?tid=41

This guy made a ubuntu repo with the packages that needed to be fixed to get ALL things working on NC10. Simple as that. Add the repository, update, and its working. I still need some more testing but it looks great until now. It should work on Mint also.
Matt Gibson said…
Kubuntu Jaunty - psychotic WiFi connectivity.. now it's up, now it's down

Quick point -- wouldn't that be manic-depressive WiFi connectivity, not psychotic?
chillyspoon said…
LOL - indeed! :D