Fedora 17 on Samsung Netbooks

Fedora 17 on Samsung Netbooks

Summary: I am preparing for a trip to Iceland this summer, and have been considering which computers to take along. First, why plural "computers"?


I am preparing for a trip to Iceland this summer, and have been considering which computers to take along. First, why plural "computers"? Because if anything happens, whether it be lost/stolen/damaged baggage along the way, or equipment failure/malfunction while we are there, I don't want to be without a netbook. We stay in touch, check routes, roads, conditions and weather, unload pictures from cameras, send postcards and much more that we would not want to do without. So I take two, and I make sure that one is in checked baggage and one is in a carry-on.

The obvious question is, which netbooks, and with what software? I have settled on two of my Samsung systems, the N150 Plus and the NF310. I chose these because they are small and light, they work well, they both use the same power supply, and I have a Samsung tip for my iGo multi-input power adapter so I can pack one adapter with each netbook, and I will be able to charge them from the 12v plug in the truck (previously know as the "cigarette lighter", now politically incorrect to call it that) or from 110v/220v power in the camper and buildings.

The software part of the question is a bit more challenging. It obviously won't be Windows (why on earth would I go on vacation and still subject myself to Windows!?!?!?). Based on a tip from Thomas Gellhaus when I wrote about the recent release of Fedora 17, I decided to take a closer look at the Fedora KDE spin. I was quite pleased to find that not only does it include the latest GIMP (2.8), as Thomas mentioned, but it also includes the latest digiKam (2.6.0), which is my favorite photo management application by far. Of course using the KDE version means that I can also have my preferred desktop, KDE Netbook.

Fedora 17 KDE

I loaded F17 KDE onto both of the Samsung netbooks, and did some more serious testing. The results are quite impressive - everything works, and I really mean absolutely everything. Here are the high points, particularly for things which have been a problem with other LInux distributions and/or previous Fedora releases:

- All hardware works perfectly. That includes WiFi (Broadcom 4313 in both), Bluetooth, graphics, displays (built-in and external VGA), touchpad (with two-finger scrolling), power management... everything.

- WiFi connects easily, consistently and quickly.

- Bluetooth devices connect (and reconnect) quickly and consistently.

- Screen brightness control works properly, including dimming and blanking for power management.

- Fn-keys work for volume up/down/mute, brightness up/down, touchpad off/on, WiFi off/on and Sleep.

- Sleep on closing the netbook lid works, and is very quick (about 5 seconds to sleep and about 2 seconds to wake up).

The power management was particularly important, because it has been such a problem on the Samsung netbooks in the past. If the brightness fluctation problem had still been there, I would not even have considered taking them. If Suspend/Resume had not worked properly, it would have been just as bad because when I am traveling, especially in Iceland, I don't want to have to sit around and wait for a complete boot every time I turn a netbook on.

In fact, after quite a lot of testing of everything I could think of, I haven't found a single thing that doesn't work properly under Fedora 17 KDE on either of these netbooks. Good stuff!


Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Thanks for review and have a nice trip!
  • Have an excellent trip, Jamie. I hope you will be able to blog a little during that time.

    On a whim, I moved up one of my plans, and installed Fedora 17 KDE Spin myself on my laptop. What I'm going to do is to use nothing but KDE applications (EXCEPT for gaming), and discuss the experience on my blog.
  • Thanks for the review, really good to hear about just how easy it is to install various flavours of Linux. A couple of years ago I had some errant drivers with Fedora but now Linux seems to just work out of the box.

    > stay in touch, check routes, roads, conditions and weather, unload pictures from cameras, send postcards and much more

    Have you thought about a smartphone?! Apparently some come with a linux distro called android... ;)
    Jake Rayson
  • Hi Jake, Thanks for the comments, it's always a pleasure to hear from you. I actually own an HTC Wildfire, but the simple fact is that the screen is too small, my fingers are too large, and my brain is too old to be able to do even a fraction of the things on a smartphone that I can do on a netbook. However, glancing back at my list I realize that you are right, I SHOULD be able to do the majority of those things on my phone, if I weren't too old and stubborn to figure it out. In fact, the more I think about it the more it seems that this would be a very interesting subject to write about when I get back.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • thanks for the review hope all goes well for you