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Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix and the Asus Eee 1000he

netbook-screencast-imgWell, if you’re reading this post, you’re probably interested in some way or the other about Ubuntu and already know that the official 9.10 release came out last week, known as Karmic Koala.  What excited me the most about this new release for Ubuntu 9.10 was a netbook version known as the Netbook Remix.  It’s Ubuntu with many specific tweaks, especially visually, that are tailored to the vast abundance of netbooks on the market today.

Therefore, I had to ditch Windows XP Home on my Asus Eee PC 1000he for Ubuntu 9.10’s Netbook Remix (UNR)!  I do have to make a disclaimer, I didn’t get rid of Windows altogether.  I created 2 40 GB partition’s and put UNR on one and Windows 7 on the other (Windows 7 review to come later!).  Anyways, back to UNR.  I’ve been using it throughout the whole weekend and overall, it’s been great!

So here’s what I’ve experienced:

  • INSTALL – NO issues whatsoever.  I’m not kidding, I put in the CD (with the help of an external CD/DVD drive) and booted right into the install process.  It was your typical Ubuntu/Linux install, nothing too drastic or different here.
  • BOOT – Boot up times seems fine to me.  I have Grub installed so I let it sit for the 10 seconds it waits for user interaction and it took me 43 seconds to get to the Ubuntu Login Screen.  After immediately signing in, it took a total of 1:12 to display the desktop and have an active/connected wireless session.  All pretty reasonable to me.
  • DRIVERS – It found all of my hardware and had the appropriate drivers to run everything!  Wireless, Bluetooth, Sound, Camera, Microphone, etc.  The most work I had to do was to supply my wireless’ SSID & Password!  Also what’s great is that all the utility’s notification areas worked just in line w/ the key combinations.  So, when I do the “Fn + F5/F6” to adjust the screen brightness, the small notification windows shows the brightness advancing, so do the volume keys!  And I almost forgot, it supports multi-touch/two-finger scrolling on the touchpad!  Fantastic work there!  That’s basically a must have for netbook computing –> internet browsing (F11 still works too, to allow your web browser to take up the entire screen).
  • BATTERY – So the battery, how’s it react w/ UNR?  I can’t say it’s any worse than in Windows.  Here’s what I jotted down for about a 20 minutes span while I was importing a music folder into Rhythmbox:

    5:45 – 98.3%

    6:15 – 95.6%

    6:20 – 95.6%

    6:40 – 95.5%

    6:20 – 95.4%

    6:05 – 95.1%

    5:15 – 94.5%

    5:25 – 93.5%

    5:10 – 93.5%

    5:55 – 92.3%

    7:10 – 91.4%

    7:00 – 91.3%

    Those are the Battery reports of hours remaining and the percentage of battery left. At the time I was importing music and had a web browser open, bluetooth was off, and I had half the brightness up. I know it’s pretty random and you have to take estimated battery times with a grain of salt, but hopefully it gives you some idea of what I’m getting. I’d say I’m seeing about 6 – 6:30 hrs of battery life running UNR.

  • APPLICATIONS – As mentioned under my Drivers section, I didn’t need need to install any apps to get anything working or drivers, everything was supported right out of the install.  One thing I did need to download and install, but wasn’t mandatory were plugins to play my imported music files for Rhythmbox.  I just approved of the installs and away they went, I didn’t have to use Terminal and unpack anything, all seamless.  Other than that, the apps I installed were extras that I enjoy: Opera (I love this web browser: quick, lite (yet powerful!), great skins), Gnome-Do, Adobe AirTwhirlTweetdeck, & PySDM.  As for all of those apps, they work and run great.  However, Twhirl looks pretty ugly.  Because it has those special rounded corners and transparency around the edges, UNR just doesn’t handle it well (whereas my desktop version of 8.04 does?).  Therefore, I installed Tweetdeck…….waaahhllaaa…..that does the trick!  I know that’s not the fix you may have been hoping for, but having that partial-screen Twhirl app open was hard to read line by line anyways on the 10 inch screen.  Lastly, I installed PySDM.  UNR doesn’t mount all partitions on boot without some tweaking, so to easily do so, PySDM does the trick for me.  Now, my 60 GB partition of files, music, & videos are there and I don’t have to reset my desktop background on every boot.

Well, that covers the topics that were my biggest concerns with installing UNR 9.10.  My only criticisms are more cosmetic than anything.  And to be honest, UNR was done right…..get everything to work first, especially for the non-linux folks trying this for the first time, and then work on the goodies.  Things such as the ability to rearrange my Favorites tab would would be sweet.  I hate to post a review without any major criticism’s, it seems like Canonical paid me to write this, but it’s the truth, everything worked right after the install and the majority of my time was tweaking things to my likings.  Maybe you can leave a criticism or two?

Be sure to leave at least a comment or if you have any recommendations or questions, leave a comment!  Also, you can catch me on Twitter, so send a message – @wjfuoco, I’ll do my best to help answer anything!

12 comments… add one
  • mike from duxbury November 3, 2009, 2:13 am

    Just installed 9.10 NBR on my Asus 1000HE (had 9.04 NBR previously) and have the same issue of no sound. Was hit or miss on 9.04; any suggestions/

    • wjfuoco November 3, 2009, 1:20 pm

      Hey Mike, what's interesting is that it happened in your 9.04 release as well. Are you running the stable 9.10 or the Release Candidate? That could potentially be giving you some problems. My other thought was, maybe the bios could use an upgrade? Did you do an upgrade to 9.04 or a completely new install w/ a reformat? I did a new install on the new EXT4 Filesystem without issue. I spoke to 2 other Asus EEE PC guys and they haven't had sound problems either. Check out this forum link I found for some possible troubleshooting: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1144009. Let me know what you come up with!

      • mike from duxbury November 3, 2009, 3:49 pm

        Did a clean install of 9.04 to start, and had issues with sound (would be there, then when you reboot it would disappear). Did google around and it appears that this is a reported bug to Ubuntu.

        Will try those links you suggested; other than the sound issue, the Ubuntu seems great (and 9.10 a visual improvement over 9.04).

        • wjfuoco November 9, 2009, 8:01 pm

          Hey Mike, any luck yet with the sound?

          • mike from duxbury December 15, 2009, 9:40 pm

            Did finally figure out what (but not why) is going on. I am dual-booting Ubuntu 9.10 w/ WIndows XP on the 1000HE. If you do a cold start (power off) and boot into Ubuntu, I get sound. If I'm running XP and restart into Ubuntu, no sound.

            Saw this behavior listed elsewhere

            http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=71106

            Not sure why this is happening, but will just remember to do cold start to use Ubuntu.

          • WJFuoco December 17, 2009, 12:41 am

            Wow, that is really goofy Mike! Do you have the same kernel that they referred to in that forum? If you don't have the latest, maybe trying that? At this point….I'm shooting in the dark.

            Glad though that you could figure out what is going on! Take care & thanks for posting back!

  • Ian Parker November 6, 2009, 8:55 pm

    Some day… when I actually get a Netbook, I'm definitely giving the UNR a whirl. Although Windows 7 is a damn nice OS. But Karmic is so slick looking and actually "feels" good to use. It's the first desktop Linux release that has actually been really tight in my opinion. That hundred paper cuts project has done wonders for user interface and usability.

    • wjfuoco November 9, 2009, 7:49 pm

      I agree Ian, Windows 7 is sharp. To my surprise, it runs terrificly on my EEE. Graphics are great, speed is good, etc. I'll have to do the review on my EEE running Windows 7 on my other partition soon. I had to install new ACPI drivers for Windows 7, not as easy of a setup as w/ UNR, but fairly simple enough for even the non-techies out there.

      Hope all is well!

  • Suhel November 9, 2009, 5:40 pm

    Excuse me, do you know how to make the CPU scaling option work? I don't even know if it should be called "cpu scaling", it's the cpu modes you usually go through by pressing FN and then the spacebar on the 1000 HE. Please help me out. Thanks!