George V. Reilly

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04

Ubuntu Netbook Remix

I spent much of today playing around with the brand-new Jaunty/9.04 release of the Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my Eee 1000H netbook. Previously I had run the Hardy/8.04 version of Ubuntu Eee on this system. I had never bothered to update to Intrepid/8.10, but now that UNR is fully supported by Canonical, I thought it was time to try it out.

I downloaded the UNR image last night onto my Mac, and trans­ferred the image to a 1GB USB stick this morning. (The Mac in­struc­tions required a little tweaking.)

I spent some time running the Live Image first, before clean installing. Everything worked seamlessly except the microphone. WiFi worked, the webcam worked, sound playback worked, the touchpad was configured in a sane way. All of these were problems for me when I first installed Ubuntu Eee. That they worked now was not too surprising, since the Asus Eee 1000 is a Tier 1 supported system, but it’s nice to get the con­fir­ma­tion.

One of the first things to strike me about the Live Image was how nice the fonts looked. I’m sensitive to typography and the default font hinting settings on previous versions of Ubuntu have always looked like crap: spindly and awkward. I found it hard to take seriously an operating system that looked so un­pro­fes­sion­al. The Jaunty font hinting yields thicker letters, which look a lot more like the Mac’s shape-preserving font rendering, though not as good. The main exception, oddly enough, is the font used in the netbook-launcher, which looks jagged.

I went ahead and installed Jaunty. The installer offered me an option to install Jaunty side-by-side with the existing operating systems, Ubuntu Eee 8.04 and Windows XP. I wanted to overwrite the existing Ubuntu partition and I had to jump through several hoops to make that happen. The partition editor is pretty and an im­prove­ment over GParted. The timezone picker is also very slick, with a clickable world map.

Par­ti­tion­ing aside, the in­stal­la­tion was quick and painless. JPierre has a useful guide to some issues that he ran into.

I’ve spent most of the afternoon and evening installing various ap­pli­ca­tions that I care about. Sleep and hibernate just work now. Sleep worked before but there were always some obnoxious errors when going to sleep.

As a hardcore Vim user, I use keyboard shortcuts a lot. Alt+Tab (or Apple+Tab) is my primary method for switching between ap­pli­ca­tions on Windows, Linux, and Mac. I had never found a keyboard shortcut for switching back to the netbook-launcher: I’d always have to click the Ubuntu logo in the top-left corner of the desktop. Buried in the Keyboard Shortcuts Pref­er­ences, I finally found Ctrl+Alt+Tab, which shows a popup, and Ctrl+Alt+Escape, which switches im­me­di­ate­ly.

Other random notes:

I have a Linux machine at work that runs Kubuntu. I kicked off the upgrade from Intrepid to Jaunty yesterday before I left. I’ll find out on Monday how well that worked.

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