Death of the netbook?

My little Dell Mini 9 is feeling unloved.http://bit.ly/uwsvNl.

22743 dell inspiron mini 10








I can’t help but think that this is a short sighted decision, there must be a market for notebooks alongside tablets, ultrabooks (whatever the hell they are, nobody actually seems to have one yet, apart from Apple) and regular notebooks of all form factors.

Ok, I don’t use my Dell much, nor my Android tablet, but they both have their uses, and both prove useful when they are needed. Maybe an iPad could replace both, but I emphasise the ‘could‘, I’m not sure an Android tablet could, and I’m not sure I’d want to spend extended periods typing on any tablet, but I’m sure a cheap sub- £200 netbook has an important place in the product line up.

I guess this is Dell we are talking about, they killed the Streak just before 7″ tables became more mainstream, they committed to Ubuntu, if you could actually find anything with Ubuntu on it in their catalogue, and like all netbook manufactures killed the concept of the netbook by bowing to Microsoft and trying to fit Windows onto the things, bloating both hard, and software in the process.

My Mini 9, though running OSX, is a joy to use, and equally happy, and useful, running Jolicloud. Boot time in seconds, proper sleep so it is ready when the lid opens, responsive and very handy it is perfect for what I need it for.

It is a real shame no-one really committed to making Linux work properly on the netbook, and by no-one I mean the actual manufactures, take a look at Jolicloud to see how it should have been done.


Perhaps the most ‘iPhone’ like Linux OS available Jolicloud has left the beta stage and is now at RC.


I’ve dabbled with this OS for a while on my admittedly almost unused Acer Aspire One, swapping between an almost flawless Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Moblin, and Jolicloud running on the almost stock configuration (1.5gb Ram installed). I’ve had Jolicloud installed for a couple of weeks now after I figured out that the sleep issues could be solved by removing the SD card before closing the lid.

Ubuntu is pretty good on the machine, but even after a small amount of tweaking to fit still leaves me with a basic desktop system. Moblin has a great interface for a netbook, but leaves me with limited software, and a lack of specific machine tweaks. I also get the impression that there is very little community behind Moblin at a basic to intermediate level. Support is at a very geeky level and while I can figure things out, dislike jumping through hoops to do so. It is a shame, Moblin holds a lot of promise, but the whole project does seem to be a little directionless at the moment.

Jolicloud seems to offer the best of both worlds, and a little more besides. Applications are basically pre-configured web apps (iPhone 2G?) though local apps are perfectly possible, connectivity is great, Ubuntu lies not far beneath so some tweaking from basic easily available sources is easily done.The UI is an amalgam of Ubuntu Netbook and iPhone, so it is simple, but doesn’t require much re-learning, and with the array of applications (web apps) available to connect to a whole range of productivity, media and networking site Jolicoud is shaping up to be an almost perfect netbook OS.


The original OS installed on the Aspire, and the Asus netbooks, had so much promise but were letdown by the lack of upgrades, and limitations imposed from the factory, that it became inevitable they would be replace. Unfortunately up to now that this meant using a cut down desktop OS, which while workable, and exactly what many people wanted, was not the original idea behind a netbook, and not why I bought mine. Jolicloud does change that, and while you do need a connection for it to be really usable, does return to the original premise of a simple, connected device, the Net in netbook, without going to the extremes of Googles Cloud OS. It also retains the Book with locally installed applications.

I wish this project well, though like Twitter, I don’t yet understand the business model, and I will be keeping a close eye on development as they go into a final release. Maybe this time around I’ve found the perfect Linux OS.


Did you see the price of this thing outright?

Nokia Booklet. £799.00…. It’s a freaking netbook, not a MacBook.

Ok, so an iPhone runs around the same price, unlocked, but it is a class leading, groundbreaking device. This is a netbook for crying out loud. It should not break the £300 barrier, to own not rent as undoubtedly many of these things will end up being subsidised by the likes of The Carphone Warehouse or the networks.

Maybe in a week or two I’ll be lusting after an iPad/iSlate, and I have no doubt that they will easily run at the same kind of price, but again it will be breaking new ground, this is just a Windows 7 netbook, in an aluminium chassis, which if I go by my one Nokia owning experience will not be built to particularly high standards either.

I’m just stunned.


I’m lovin’ it

Ubuntu, and the netbook are finally making a refreshing change.

Ubuntu, because it has a reasonable polish, and despite the usual suspects of broken things in the build, and bluetooth is the only critical one for me at the moment, is an enjoyable experience, and actually is a joy to use. Unlike OSX on it I don’t expect great things, so I am usually pleasently suprised when something workswell, rather than being frustrated then something dosent!

The rest is down to embracing the cloud and looking for true cross-platform, or highly available solutions. This is becoming the real revelation as I’m finding solutions to some of my age old problems of syncing stuff around that are finally accessible, or workable. Sure, they are not without problems, but they do work as they are supposed to do.

One accidental outcome of the last few days has been the switch to Google for most of my ‘cloud’, but by using several different services to get there.
I will outline more on this later.

The Itch…


Why? Why do I do it.

Ubuntu 8.10 is a few hours old and I’m itching to stick it on the Aspire because it ‘works out of the box‘….

I can’t resist destroying hours of work making my Hackintosh work how I want it to… just to get a little more usefulness out of the machine.

Hours more work in tweaking, setting and tuning it just for me.

No. Must resist….. can’t……. hold….. it…………


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Looking up…

Things may not be to bad for my Aspire One. I’ve tracked down a screen on Ebay (UK) that was not horribly expensive, if almost 50% of the value of the machine does not constitute ‘expensive’!


The question became; Do I spend on a new machine, or invest in this one so as not to waste it? Spending won out this time, along with a few additional components to make the whole project more fun…

Well, while opening up the case again I may as well make the effort worthwhile!

Acer AspireOne round 2


I don’t think I’m having much luck with my broken Aspire, Windows ate itself earlier on Thursday night, and I’ve just finished the forensics.

SP3 killed it stone dead.

Just the MCE part mind, though that was the whole point of it!

Damn. MythTV is now back in the living room while I decide what to do next.

On the Horizon

I’m still getting over the ‘death’ of my AspireOne, and it was a totally sh!t week at work on top of this.

The only saving grace is that I’ve been able to get my wounded One to load Windows Media Centre, and replace the Myth machine in the living room. Result, one slightly quieter machine (the fan runs all the time when driving my 1280×768 LCD TV!), and a whole lot of physical space saved.
The Myth box is now back upstairs working as one big file server.
This is not what I’d really want from the Aspire, and I’ve carefully considered my options, but it is the best I can do at the moment, and it seems to be reasonably successful in it’s new role. I’ve been promised that I can soon replace the Aspire, though I’m not exactly sure what with yet. Looking around I still think that the Aspire one is the best of breed, though it does suffer from a slow restricted size SSD, maybe I’d take a HD option next time, or I’d look at the best option for a Hackintosh. Not only are prices dropping though, I found an Aspire One 8gb in white for £179.90 in a physical shop yesterday, but I also think a few more options will become available soon. What the platform really needs is for someone to make a swivel screen and load Tablet XP on it. Whoever does this is going to be brave, it will kill a lot of dearer machines, but I’m sure they will sell the machine by the million.
Now the little netbook is shoved into a corner, and I’m unlikely to rush out and buy it’s replacement in the next few weeks, I’m able to look at my options again. Google launched it’s G1 Android phone this week, and it is coming to a t-mobile network near me soon.
Initially I said wow, but looking at it now I’ve gotta admit the device is fugly, and I’m not sure if it is really that much better than the iPhone in either function or price. The N96 is ruled out, almost certainly for the slightly lesser N85, if I stay with Nokia, and so if I don’t keep my N95 for a while the iPhone is back on the horizon.


I just killed my new best friend.
Gutted. A new screen will cost the same as a new One!

Posted by ShoZu

Trade off!

The iPhone finally lost out. For now anyway.

I could not quite convince myself it was the right option on two counts.

1: The N95 is so good.
2: The iPhone is not quite good enough.

Ignoring the bigger form factor (Yeah, I know it’s thinner, but the actual size of the iPhoe is bigger!) the downgraded camera, lack of MMS, and lack of real connectivity , things just did not quite add up to a better deal than what I’ve got now, which can surely last another 6-12 months anyway, by then there maybe a real ‘upgrade’ choice available.

So I’ve blown the cash on a little treat, an AspireOne. I’ve looked at the EEEpc with envious eyes for a while, but for the price the Acer fits the bill a little better. I could have gone with a slightly dearer Advent (MSi Wind), but despite the expence of a bigger SD card, Bluetooth dongle, and a gig of RAM, I’ve got a brilliant bit of kit. I went with the 4GB SSD model, and played with the installed Linpus for a while, before taking the plunge and sitting XP on it.

All in all it is a great little package, and does much of what I wanted an iPhone for, but on a bigger screen with a proper keyboard. It also fully talks to the N95, making either an extension of the other, and with a little magic and pain, both are an extension of the Mac’s on the home network.

While I originally thought that Palm’s Foleo idea was a bit off the mark I’ve since come around to think it was right on the money, and looking at the sales figures for the AspireOne, and the EEEpc’s, they will be kicking themselves for abandoning the platform.

One thing is for sure, you will be hearing more from me about this little machine.

Posted by ShoZu

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