Netbook, Windows, and Ubuntu

I recently purchased a netbook for use as a writing aid when off in the middle of nowhere. It came with some form of Windows 7 on it which, I have to admit, did not provide a great experience. Let me tell you a story.

I arrive home from a successful shopping expedition with a shiny new Eee PC 1005PE. The first thing I do is unpack it and skim through the instruction booklet before charging ahead and powering the device up. Of course, that involved attaching the battery and connecting it to a power socket, none of which was particularly difficult.

Now the first thing I am greeted with is the Windows installation process. This I was expecting. However, I was most certainly not expecting that process to take nearly two hours to complete from the initial startup to the Windows desktop appearing in a useful manner. Even once the Windows desktop appeared, the device was horribly slow. In fact, it was basically unusable. I wonder if even the collected powers of good and evil in the entire universe have even the faintest idea what it was doing.

Since I did not intend to use Windows on the machine, I had already prepared a USB stick with the Netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.04. After a bit of fiddling around, I managed to get the machine to boot off the USB stick and start up. Again, this was a slow process but it only took about ten minutes to fully start up to the point of being useful. I played around for a few minutes until I was sure the system was functioning correctly under Ubuntu then began the install process. Since I had had a horrible experience with Windows 7, I told it to use the entire disk.

It took something like half an hour to do the full installation after which point I rebooted and Ubuntu started up without problems. I was now faced with a wonderfully snappy interface which took me a little while to figure out, but once I did, I found it quite efficient. Some real thought went into the design of the netbook interface. After installing all the operating system updates and rebooting once more, the system was even snappier.

I did some fiddling around to get the environment configured to my liking and I have to say, the experience under Ubuntu is light years ahead of the Windows 7 experience. Once I got my various software packages installed and configured correctly, I found the system simply just worked.

I should point out that while I always intended to use Ubuntu on the device, I fully intended to give the pre-installed Windows 7 a chance. However, it was so brutally slow at doing anything that there was no valid reason to keep it once compared to even the Ubuntu live boot.

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