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What can I do with a netbook? [solved]


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I'm interested in getting a little netbook to while away the commuting time, and I'm surprised how cheap the current offers are. In particular, there's one by Acer which seems to fit quite well. I'm well aware though that it's no supercomputer, so I'd like an idea of what it's realistic to be able to do on it.


Here are the listed specs:

CPU - Intel Atom N455, 1.66 GHz (I guess this means single core)


250 GB HDD

Graphics - Intel GMA 3150

10.1" screen, 1024 x 600


So it's a low power CPU with only 1GB RAM and sub-stellar graphics - it's a netbook of course. But compared to my old (now sadly deceased) laptop, maybe it's not as slow as I think? That only had a 1.6 GHz Centrino and 700 MB RAM and that was plenty fast for regular stuff.


So what can I reasonably expect? Is it only going to be able to handle typing emails and showing a few photos, or can I run something like Eclipse to play with java development, or run something like Stellarium? Maybe even play videos? Should I go for a lightweight desktop or would it be happy with the demands of Gnome?


Has anyone any experience of these little things?



[moved from Hardware by spinynorman]

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I have an older Asus Eee 901 netbook with Mandriva 2010. The netbook kernel is installed and I use KDE.


Watching streamed movies works just fine.

Email and internet browsing good too.

The display manager is plenty snappy, especially when compared to the original XP install.

Small keyboard is awkward for me.

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With that kind of machine you can browse the internet, watch videos, play simple games (the ones that are not too demanding on resources), write texts (try using older versions of Microsoft office or just openoffice, or google docs).



I think that flashplayer and KDE would require a lot of resources, so try not to do too many things at once.

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I have a aspireone 110 with a 8,9 inch screen and use it for anything. I use openoffice, the gimp, scribus, watching video, playing music, internet, etc

It's running with KDE from 2 micro usb-sticks (ssd died) 512 mb intern and the speed is good, don't run 3 programms the same time.

For havy photo editing and that kind of stuff it's no good. But for normal work it's enough.


My daughter hase a samsung with 10 inch and 1 gyg memory 250 gyg hd, she use it for here studie on the university and is very pleased with it.

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Thanks for the tips, everyone!

I decided to take the plunge, it was on special offer for one week only :) Now I just need to decide whether it's worth the trouble of claiming a refund of my Microsoft tax or not - originally I thought definitely yes, but Acer have said that you have to actually send the whole machine back to their service centre, and I could do without the risk of damage during the post, delays while they figure out what to do etc etc. I suggested I can reformat the drive myself or have it done in the shop, but apparently that's not good enough. And they said the refund for Win7 starter is only 20 EUR, but I have to pay for the postage MYSELF, which makes the whole thing probably a bit more trouble than it's worth. Gah.


I wasn't considering running KDE or OO.o on it, but maybe Xfce. And probably a lightweight browser rather than Firefox I guess. But it would be nice to be able to play with eclipse on the train...

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1. ASUS EeePC 1005-HA here running Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04. I don't notice significant difference between FireFox and Chrome on general pages. However, if the page is heavy on java scripts or has a flash movie embedded, then scrolling is substantially slower, and the browser is not as responsive as usual.


2. You should look at how well the distro manages power, and how easy is to setup wireless networking. For me, the turning point toward Ubuntu was poor Mandriva's power management. With Ubuntu + EeePC ACPI scripts, my battery lasts almost the same time as if I was running Windows XP - over 10 hours when the battery was new. Even now, 1 year on, I have nearly 8 hours of battery life.


3. A year ago, N450/N355 used to be a pain to install Linux on. Hope it has changed.


4. Get 2Gb memory for it.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the tips!

Here's a follow-up though - I'm happy with this little beastie and it's living up to what I'd hoped.

It seems happy with Gnome, and Firefox, although I didn't put OpenOffice on it. Best of all, it's quite happy with eclipse so I can play on the train with it! And I got rsync set up so I can sync up what I've done on both machines. Result!


As expected, videos aren't great, and scrolling is sometimes a little strained, but overall it's surprisingly capable. The only thing which doesn't work properly is the internal SD card reader but that's something for a separate thread.


Count this one as solved! :thumbs:

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