Some bloggers have wondered whether the netbook hype that’s currently going on will popularize Linux among (former) Windows users. For me personally, I can aswer that question with a firm ‘yes’. Not only did I opt to install Ubuntu on my netbook, I’ve also set it up on my ‘TV-PC’.
I have a little HP e-PC hooked up to my LCD television. Even though its an older machine and quite slow compared to most true HTPCs, it does allow me to watch movies and surf the web whilst being a couch potato. It was running XP until today, which worked OK but had a few issues. Most importantly, I couldn’t set the desktop resolution to anything over 1024*768. The integrated Intel graphics should be able to run higher resolutions, but the driver wouldn’t budge. I even read somewhere that my TV reports the 1024 as its maximum resolution through ‘plug & play’. All the more surprising then that it booted into 1360*768 straight away when I popped in an Ubuntu 8.04 CD. The optimum for my TV. Right off the bat.
Ubuntu’s slightly bigger default fonts are very easy to read, whereas XP required some squinting. I don’t use this machine every day, so not having to run tons upgrades and get the latest virus definitions when I do is also pretty nice. Like with my netbook I do not need it to run applications like Photoshop and Flash, which aren’t available for Linux. For everything else, I’m starting to like Ubuntu more and more.
One small problem I have with my current setup is that there does not appear to be a Bittorrent client for Ubuntu that supports auto-shutdown. I quite like the idea that when my downloads are finished, the computer shuts down automatically. No need to further waste energy until I’m back to the keyboard to shut it down. The very nature of Linux, the way it handles sessions and security, might be preventing this, but it still would be a good feature to have.
I hope netbooks will help get users to at least try Linux. Asus’ choice of (the slightly awkward imho) Xandros is a little unfortunate, but with other companies embracing Ubuntu it might just happen. I for one now have two machines with a valid Windows license sticker on them that do not run Windows. My Vista workstation is now officially outnumbered. Ubuntu 2, Windows 1.