Yesterday, one week to the day after the release of Windows 7, Ubuntu released version 9.10 of their Linux distribution. It’s got all sorts of new features that have been talked about extensively all over the web, but I just found out it also fixes a bug that’s been bothering me ever since I first got into Ubuntu. Under ‘Karmic Koala’, the video tearing on Intel graphics adapters is finally gone.
Intel’s integrated video adapters have long been recommended for Ubuntu users with modest graphical needs. If you’re not into games and don’t need the absolute best possible video playback, going with an onboard video adapter from Intel was a safe bet. I have two machines that use Intel’s GMA 950 chip, and I found them to work quite well, except for this one issue.
More I could just hug Karmic Koala!
I’ve searched high and low for a good native Linux Twitter client, but there’s nothing out there that can really compete with TweetDeck. At least not in terms of functionality. TweetDeck is based on Adobe’s AIR platform and as a result is quite heavy on resources. But the biggest problem I had with it was getting it to open links in my default browser. It disregarded my setting and used Firefox to open all links. Twitter is far less fun if you need to carefully copy paste every link to a new tab in your browser. As it turns out, the issue is with AIR, not just TweetDeck, and it took quite a while and a lot of help for me to find a working solution.
More Getting Adobe AIR to use the default browser under Ubuntu
I’ve written a lot of posts about the advantages for running Linux on my netbook. Unfortunately there’s been one application I haven’t been able to get to run smoothly under Ubuntu 9.04. Firefox. No matter how many little tweaks I used, it remained unusably slow, and would drift in and out of conscienceness even when simply using a single tab to check my Gmail. For a machine I use primarily to do that kind of stuff, not having a decent browser was a major problem.
More Chromium for Linux rocks!
I’ve pointed out this brilliant piece by Wired before. If you haven’t read it you should. It’s about how netbooks changed the computer industry, and ended, at least for some uses, the arms race towards ever greater performance. But there’s another thing that makes these tiny laptops very important, and that’s innovation. Hardware limitations and new use cases have forced software and hardware developers to come up with new solutions. Since the launch of the original Eee-PC nearly two years ago now I’ve spotted a number of really cool innovative projects that would probably not have existed without the netbook phenomenon.
More Why netbooks are important: Innovation
As I wrote earlier, CompuLab was kind enough to send me a Fit-PC2, so I could find out if this tiny little PC is as great as it sounds on paper. The first unit I received failed before I could properly test it, but it was quickly replaced and I’ve been putting the replacement one through its paces all day today.
The Fit-PC2 is the world’s smallest fully functional desktop PC. It’s about 1/4 the volume of a Mac Mini, and it still has all the necessary connections and features to be used as a home or office computer. It’s also the most energy efficient PC I know of, using only six watt when idle and eight when playing full resolution HD video (1080p). Yes, it does that. But more about that later.
More Fit-PC2 review: The world’s smallest desktop PC
It’s funny how I just discovered a great feature in Vista by reading up on how to install Ubuntu alongside it. I didn’t know Vista could shrink partitions without the need for 3rd party tools. Well it can and I did. To make room for Ubuntu. I plan to move away from Windows for anything but design work. I’ll need Photoshop for that and there isn’t a viable Linux alternative for Flash either. But other than that I can’t wait to switch to Linux full time.
More That’s it, I’m switching!
At Computex, nVidia is keen to show off it Ion and Tegra product lines. Ion is a new chipset that turns Intel’s Atom processor into a multimedia powerhouse by adding a proper GPU. The first products are available and have been met with critical acclaim. But I find Tegra a much more interesting product. Not in the sense that I’m going to run to stores when the first Tegra-packing devices hit retail, but in the sense that I’m curious to see where this is going.
More Why am I still not excited about Tegra?
I know I’ve been writing about Ubuntu for a while now, but the truth is I’m still pretty new to Linux. I’ve only been using it for a year now, and with Linux’s uneven learning curve (by which I mean that it’s very easy to get to a novice/intermediate level and it gets steeper from there), I’m really not an expert.
One of the things I’d not done before was upgrade from one version to the next. Under Windows, upgrading is such a recipe for disaster that I chose to do fresh installs of Ubuntu when I moved from 8.04 to 8.10. But as it turns out, upgrading is another thing that works really well under Ubuntu.
More Kudos to Ubuntu for a great upgrade experience!
Microsoft pounded itself on the chest last week saying over 96% of netbooks now use Windows. This made me somewhat sad, because I was hoping these little computers could be the break Linux had been waiting for.
The first couple of netbooks all had Linux pre-installed. Unfortunately, Asus chose to go with a custom Linux distribution for which it has yet to release its first update. No Firefox 3, no Flash 10 and no easy way to get additional software. Except for the easy to use interface, they came up with the worst example of what Linux can be. But if there’s one thing Linux offers its choice. It is my opinion that Ubuntu is the most user-friendly Linux distro out there, and I highly recommend giving it a go on your netbook.
More Five reasons to put Ubuntu Linux on your netbook
I wrote about how Firefox can be really slow on the Eee-PC a few months ago, and offered a simple tweak that helped me back then. Since upgrading to Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) however, that configuration setting didn’t help nearly as well as it did before. Apparently, there were a few more things slowing the browser down. So here’s a couple more things to try.
More More Eee-PC Firefox speed tweaks