Ubuntu Netbook Remix "Acid Test" - First Results

It's been a week since I loaded my neighbor's Eee PC with UNR, and last night I had the chance to talk with her about her experience with it so far. The Reader's Digest version: she loves it.

It's been a week since I loaded my neighbor's Eee PC with UNR, and last night I had the chance to talk with her about her experience with it so far. The Reader's Digest version: she loves it. It works, it's does all that she wants (and more), and it's easy to use.

First, and most importantly, she didn't know or care that it was running Ubuntu, or Linux, or Not Windows, or anything else. She has, of course, noticed that the desktop and programs were different from what she has on her "normal" PC, which is running XP. But she was able to understand how to use the Eee PC, from what I had shown her and from discovering on her own (she had tried out Cheese and taken some pictures with the built-in camera, for example).

She has been using Firefox for web browsing, and was likewise not bothered by the differences between it and Internet Explorer, which she had been using on her XP system. She was particularly pleased that the Eee PC is so small and light, and connects quickly and reliably to WiFi, so she is able to use it all through the house, and even outside in the garden.

She also wanted to use Skype, to talk to family and friends in the U.S., but hadn't been able to get it going. I looked at it with her, and after the usual round of test calls and "Can you hear me now?", "Can you see me now?", I got the Skype settings properly adjusted, and it all works. Text chat (of course), audio calls both using the built-in microphone and speakers and using a headset connected to the audio jacks, and video calls using the built-in camera.

I discovered an SD card in the card reader slot, and she said oh yes, she had tried that, and it worked just fine. She has transferred the pictures to the Eee PC with no problem. I am honestly pleased and surprised by the things she has been able to discover and/or figure out on her own with UNR.

The only problems she has had are with the Eee PC hardware itself. The biggest of those is the no-button touchpad. Ugh. It's just awful to try to work with that thing, so she generally uses a USB mouse. The screen is also very small, which occasionally causes a problem when programs open a window that is not scaled properly and ends up being larger than the screen - with critical options or buttons missing off the bottom. I showed her how to Alt-Drag a window to get around that.

So, the first summary is, UNR on her Eee PC is a solid success. If there is such a thing as a "classic" netbook user and situation, she is it. She doesn't want much (at least yet), just web browsing, email, Skype, and basic digital photo manipulation. She wants to use it wherever she happens to be in the house, rather than being tied to her desk. She doesn't want it to crash, hang, ask questions that she doesn't even understand, much less know the answer to, or continually pop up windows informing, warning or asking for confirmation of something (all things that her desktop system has done). It just works, and she doesn't care how or why, or what is "under the hood", as long as it stays that way.

jw 25/6/2009