Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix REVIEW – Mixed Impressions

I’ve always been a huge fan of Ubuntu due to their ease of use and virus-free environment. When we came to know that the Canonical has unveiled a special netbook edition specially tailored for the netbooks, I could not stop myself installing the it on my EEE.

Installation

The installation was pretty much seamless.

  • First download the image file from the ubuntu’s servers
  • Download Disk Imager from here
  • Use the Disk Imager to ‘write’ the image file to your flash drive (should be atleast 1GB)

One much required improvement over the previous installations was the fact that the dialog boxes and windows were fully visible. You no longer have to do the ‘ctrl+f7’ key combo to move the windows around just to click on ‘Proceed’.

One thing to note is that although Ubuntu suggests that you install netbook edition on an Atom processor, but the installation also worked fine on an EEE 701 running Celeron processor.

Boot Time

Since the video speaks (and show) more than pictures and words, here is the video of EEE 1000HE booting the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix. It takes just 24 seconds to fully boot up. Earlier versionns like Ubuntu 8.10 used to take nearly 1 minute to fully boot up.


Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Edition booting on an EEE 1000HE from Taran DS on Vimeo.

Web Experience

Since it is called netbook edition, it should provide great web experience to the user, right? Ubuntu 9.04 comes with the excellent Firefox browser. The browsing speeds have improved by miles when compared to previous versions.

But, flash player has not been included! What were the folks at ubuntu thinking? Flash is widely used everywhere on web. You will see ‘install missing plugins’ bar on the top of the webpage, which uses flash anywhere in the website. Clicking that bar will display the list of  plugins required to play flash. I tried all of them and firefox was unable to install any of them. This called for manual installation, something which would be little difficult for the normal user.

How can it say "installed" when it was not able to find the plugin?

How can it say "installed" when it was not able to find the plugin?

Anyway, these are the steps to install flash player:

  • Go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/
  • Save it to Desktop
  • Click on the ‘deb’ file to start the installation
  • Restart the browser and the flash should now work fine

For Instant Messaging, it comes with rock solid application called Pidgin, which supports a wide variety of IM services.

Applications

The Ubuntu 9.04 Nebtook Remix comes with an array of applications. Here is the screenshot of the netbook remix launcher.

It also comes with Openoffice suit and I did notice that it opened more quickly than the previous versions, which is nice to hear.

So, how much space does it takes?

It takes nearly 2GB. It should easily fit in an EEE 701 and you will still have ~1.8GB space for applications.

What was annoying?

Other than the lack of flash support, there were few other annoying problems too. The speaker volume was set half way. I spent nearly an hour figuring out what could be the reason about such low sound volume. Later on, I saw that you must click on small speaker icon and then adjust the volume from there. See the following screenshot:

After that, I wanted to try out its multimedia capabilities. The movie player application started and alerted me that there are no MP3 codecs. How could folks at ubuntu forget to bundle the MP3 codec? Anyway, the problem was quickly resolved as it itself prompted me to download the codecs.

Pros:

  • It is FREE
  • FREE support
  • Boots faster
  • Apps launch faster
  • Basic apps like web browser, email-client and office suit already bundled
  • Easily download hundreds of apps via package manager

Cons:

  • No codecs in movie player to play even basic stuff like MP3

[Download Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix]

update from folks at Ubuntu:

We cannot ship codecs as they cost money. You can but them in the Canonical store. We cannot ship Flash as it is not open source software. You can choose to install it from the repos or go to Adobe. We did not overlook these items.

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