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Moblin 2.0 and Ubuntu NBR 9.10 on MSI Wind U100

Oct 4th, 2009

This week I have been playing with some of the latest interesting Linux releases on my MSI Wind U100 netbook: Moblin 2.0 and Ubuntu 9.10 Beta Netbook Remix. This post will try to sum up my experiences so far.

Moblin 2.0

I've been following the Moblin distribution for a while and have been watching several videos on YouTube of the system. I was especially interested in the new Netbook optimized interface and really wanted to see it in action. So I finally grabbed an image and installed it onto my MSI Wind.

Moblin

Installation went smooth and I was quickly up and runing. The boot time was just amazing. It boots up elegantly without too much terminal output and quickly starts an X session and the interface slides in. The interface looks really slick and polished and it feels great to use. When I started playing around with it there were naturally some rough edges that needs more work.

Many of these things are of course to be expected at this early point. But it looks really promising so far.

Ubuntu 9.10 Beta NBR

After having played a bit with Moblin I discovered that Ubuntu had just released a new beta of 9.10 that featured an extensive redesign of the Netbook release. So I naturally had to try this out as well. I had some trouble downloading the image for some reason but in the end succeeded only to realise there was no USB stick image so I had to install using a cd.

The live cd booted fine and I could see my hardware was working fine except my camera so I decided to install the system. The installation program worked beatifully but at some point the installation procedure stalled at 83% creating users? After waiting a long time I decided to give it another go but installing outside the live environment and it worked a lot better though some of the installation screens didn't fit the screen resolution.

Ubuntu doesn't boot as fast as Moblin but it boots a lot faster than 9.04 on my netbook. The new login greeter has a face browser as the default taking a hint from Mac and Windows.

The redesigned Netbook Remix interface looks really great compared to the last release and has a lot more unified look. The icons, scroll bars and the way the background image is blended in from behind makes the system feel really polished. The status bar icons now have a more Mac-like skinning using gray colors and some nice default backgrounds are now available. All these improvements must come from the recently established design team. It is great to see improvements are starting to appear and it looks amazing so far - well done.

There are still a few weak spots in the interface though imho. It would be nice to have a better visual coherence between the window, the menu bar and the window title bar on the top. Perhaps it could look a bit like the tabs in Google Chrome.

Ubuntu

The default theme for the NBR is now a dark brown variant of Human which looks fine but there are a few problems e.g. in the Firefox location bar where it is hard to read entries on the dark background.

All in all this seems to be a really good release with a lot of improvements. I'm especially fond of the UI and graphics changes made so far.

Conclusion

After having spent some time with both distributions the winner for me is clearly Ubuntu. Their interface just feels more polished and easy to use for me even though I really like some of the ideas behind the Moblin UI. And Moblin can't beat Ubuntu's large repository of software and configuration options yet.

Posted in Linux, Software by Kaspar

Comments (4)

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