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The Netbook Experience

I’ve been considering a new laptop for awhile now, my older dell 700m is still trucking along, but with it replacing an out-of-commission desktop pc at home,  I was looking for something lighter to take to on the road.  After a fair bit of time with Google, and some more time in store actually handling the units, I finally settled on a Sony Vaio Netbook.

I would have preferred having 2gb of ram out of the box, but I’ve been impressed with what this little guy can do with 1gb.  So far I’ve done everything from light 3d gaming to tone mapping HDR images without any issues.  I have a Linux license plate on my car for a reason, and I quickly set about replacing the default Windows 7 Starter Edition with something far more useful.

My Linux Distros of choice these days are openSUSE and Kubuntu.  Not having a cd-rom drive, I used a USB key to test out both distro’s on the machine.   Both ran well off of the USB key, however wi-fi was an issue for both.  SUSE wasn’t able to stay connected to my wireless router and Kubuntu wasn’t able to shutdown with the wireless adapter’s “rt2800pci” kernel module loaded.  I solved the issue in Kubuntu fairly quickly by blacklisting the module.  Installing Kubuntu was simple enough, I used the Windows disk management console to shrink the default NTFS partition as much as I could, and during installation created three partitions in the free space for the root partition, my home directory, and swap space.   The system is quite speedy, and all the hardware was functional right after installation without much tweaking needed.

While bluetooth works fine under Linux, the KDE desktop’s bluetooth application doesn’t yet provide support for tethering to a mobile device.  The GNOME bluetooth manager does provide this functionality, however a disappointing bug with the latest version of Kubuntu causes the application to crash if using the default theme for the gtk-qt-engine.  I’m working around this at the moment by using a separate user account with a different theme configuration for tethering, as I want to maintain the same look and feel between qt and gtk applications in my primary user account.

The real test will be how this little guy holds up over time.

KDE4 Desktop with Weather and Calendar Plasma Widgets