No half measures

As you may be aware, I’ve done a lot of tinkering with various distributions of Linux on my Eee 901 netbook over the past few months (mainly due to the evangelism of my mate Rich). I’ve tried Mandriva, Eeebuntu, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Mint and Fedora – all with varying degrees of success.

I’ve either been running these distros as live versions from a USB stick, or (if they work reasonably well) installing them to the Eee’s SD card. This has had the benefit of leaving the default Windows XP installation untouched, allowing me to choose which OS to boot on startup. The downside has been that trying to run an OS from an SD card hasn’t exactly provided the smoothest or quickest experience.

So, to that end, I decided the other day to go the whole hog and remove XP and install Ubuntu (my preferred flavour) onto the main solid-state drive of the Eee. I’m pleased to report that this was a very simple process – I just went with all the default options, rather than having to mess about with partitions and boot loaders and the like.

As I’ve previously reported, Ubuntu 9.04 works with all the Eee hardware – wifi, audio, bluetooth, webcam etc – out of the box so there were no issues with any of that.

Pleasingly, running Ubuntu as the main OS from the SSD has provided an exceptionally quick user interface. Power on to login screen takes just 19 seconds, and from logging in to fully running desktop with active wifi connection takes just another 15 seconds after that. Compared to the minute and a half that XP was taking to perform the same actions, that’s quite an achievement. Of course, the real benefit of Linux ownership comes from the refreshingly bloat-free nature of the OS – no extraneous rubbish running in the background to slow everything down, no need for virus checkers, no “helper” applications annoying you in the system tray.

And of course, like Ubuntu itself, all theĀ  installed software is free and open source – OpenOffice, Firefox, GIMP – and with a quick trip to the Skype homepage that’s been painlessly installed too.

All in all, a very successful and simple transition.

I’m not even remotely tempted to go back to XP after seeing how nicely Ubuntu works on the Eee – it’s an ideal OS for a netbook. I may start tinkering again when Moblin gets properly established though!

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