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Thread: Which Netbook for Linux developer?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Default Which Netbook for Linux developer?

    I have been thinking about getting a netbook with the following criteria:

    1. Use for general purpose computing like word processing, email, and web surfing.
    2. Long battery life (say 5+ hours).
    3. Linux application development

    I was thinking of either the Asus EEE 904HA or the Acer Aspire One. I do have two questions:

    a) I have tried out the keyboard on the Asus 701 and it's too small. The Acer Aspire One keyboard is still small but tolerable. Is the Asus 904Ha keyboard better. There are no local store that carries this.

    b) I like to use the computer for software development. I don't think either the Xandros or Linpus is going to work. Which of the netbook has less trouble running an alternate Linux distro? I like to have everything work properly including the wireless and sleep.

    Paul

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    Forget Atom CPU for developers. As long as you don't have to compile it is ok, but never try compiling, then you can spend ages waiting.

  3. #3

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    Personally I have been looking at the Samsung NC10 as a netbook to pick up.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2007
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    I don't plan to compile the kernal or something on it and this is for light development on the side. Keep in mind that while it's nice to have a quad core monster, I rarely get the latest equipment at work. In fact, I am using a 2.4 ghz P4 right now at work, and that's probably not too much faster than the Atom :-)

    In any case, I am more interested in how well the netbook run alternate distros. I have heard that once you move away from Xandros or Linpus, the speed and device compatiblity goes down. I want to have decent performance and be able to have all of my device and sleep working.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2008
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    Anything with the Via Nano. Beats the hell out of Atom, and has numerous other advantages (two AES encryption units, two hardware RNGs, lower idle power consumption and coupled with way better chipset than Atom = longer battery life).

    These aren't out yet, but will come soon. The 945g chipset paired with Atom eats some serious juice, and is a killer to the battery time.

  6. #6
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    Nov 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulsiu View Post
    In any case, I am more interested in how well the netbook run alternate distros. I have heard that once you move away from Xandros or Linpus, the speed and device compatiblity goes down. I want to have decent performance and be able to have all of my device and sleep working.
    i've actually heard the opposite. hardware compatibility is in the linux kernel so theoretically if it works for one it can work for another. you just may not have direct support from the distro meaning you'd have to hunt down appropriate drivers or a kernel update may be in order. this time of year alot of the popular distro's are releasing new versions with the latest kernel so hardware support should be up to date.

    the ubuntu gang has several options going specifically for the EEE PC. the one that sticks out immediately in my mind is EEE ubuntu. main difference from regular ubuntu being hardware support for the EEE pc's and possibly other netbooks.

    hope i was helpful.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Personally I have been looking at the Samsung NC10 as a netbook to pick up.
    I ordered mine as soon as I learned that Atheros wifi actually works on Linux, they're shipping it tomorrow. I intend to put Ubuntu 8.10 on it, I'll post back on how it works (or not works, who knows).

    7hrs battery life during continuous wifi surfing, and doesn't look like a fisher price toy (unlike practically all the other netbooks out there, the ones who don't have 2.5hrs battery life from their 3-cell battery), what's not to like?

  8. #8
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    I can't speak for eeePC's, but I'm on an Aspire One right now, so I'll throw in my two cents about that.

    Battery life:
    you'll be lucky to get more than 2.5 hours. That's what I got with Linpus. With Mandriva 2009, Archlinux, Ubuntu Netbook, and Kubuntu I get 2 hours +/- 10 minutes. Of course, it's got the three-cell battery, though.

    Stock distro:
    trash. It's a bastardized Fedora 8. I say "bastardized" because, although it's based on it, you'll run into trouble installing normal Fedora 8 RPM's. I completely lost PulseAudio when I upgraded Mplayer from the livna repository. It pretty much boils down to the fact that if Linpus doesn't have what you need out of the box, you're better off ditching it than trying to add stuff to it.

    Compatibility:
    Serious mixed bag. Graphics? Fine. Ethernet? Fine, if using >=2.6.26. Wireless? Fine, if using <=2.6.27 with mad-wifi, or with >=2.6.27 (usually, anyway. ath5k works with it as of 2.6.27, but some distros (like Ubuntu) make you install a separate package to get the driver). Audio? Fine. "Important" hotkeys (like volume, brightness, num lock)? fine. "Other" hotkeys (like trackpad disable and VGA-out)? will work, but usually not out of the box.

    The expansion ports are the bitch, though. They work, but only if something is in them at boot time. Also, the name of the device in /dev usually changes with most distros depending on if you're using one, the other, or both (using a device label or mounting with UUID's is a good idea). Also, vanilla (or nearly vanilla) kernels don't like suspending with them. And when I say "don't like suspending" I actually mean "will corrupt your SD cards on suspend." And when I say "corrupt" I mean your partition table will be gone and it's not uncommon for each inode to have at least two errors, as indicated by fsck."

    Don't know about the web cam or microphone. I've gotten along without them for years, and having them hasn't changed that fact. Worked with Linpus, haven't even tried to use them since.

    One last note... if you haven't heard already, upgrading the RAM in these is a huge PITA. It requires almost complete disassembly. There's about a 90% chance that you'll scratch/mark the casing or break a tab in the process (I broke one on my keyboard, so the upper right corner constantly lifts up).

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