I bought a netbook for travelling with 2 years ago – an Asus EEE PC 1000HE netbook. It had a 10” screen with a great battery life of about 8 hours. Just the thing to try and keep the kids quiet watching cartoons during long stopovers and give my wife and I some peace in a hotel room. Plus it had 160GB of hard drive storage for when our holiday photos needed to be downloaded.
It runs on Win XP, and we had to get used to it being slow to start most programs. The mp4 downloads from youtube worked a treat though. As is usual with all my computers, I wanted to install linux in the Asus. After trying several linux distros using live CD’s (using an external CD drive),I chose Ubuntu 8.4 using the Wubi installer. This installer is a really impressive feature of Ubuntu which creates Ubuntu as an application that can be installed and uninstalled just like any Windows program can. No risky disk partitioning, and no changing the boot loader, potentially crippling the whole system.
Two weeks ago I decided to again experiment with live CDs and USB versions of several linux distros. Fuduntu “a Fedora remix optimized for Netbook and other portable computers.” stood out as a distro that had the software I wanted – particularly Dropbox, Miro and Open Office – and one that worked fast enough with the netbook. I took the plunge and used GParted to partition the hard drive, then installed it next to Win XP with the Fedora bootloader. Open Office was a disappointment as it took about 20 seconds to open, so I downloaded Gnumeric and Abiword to provide speedier alternatives.
I was pretty happy with my choice of distro and software until I opened up an Excel spreadsheet in Gnumeric. It opened with no problem, but when I opened it in Excel later on I found lots of the formatting had gone. Luckily, the file was in my Dropbox folder, which saves versions of every file that is saved there. Going back to a version created a few days previously meant I could regain my formatting – phew! Sharing files across operating systems is a great idea in principal, but it has the potential to ruin files too.
Fuduntu, based on Fedora 14, is free (in terms of dollars and viruses), and a faster, alternative to Win XP, and suits my needs of web surfing and accessing podcasts and vodcasts while travelling around.