Netbook Tweaks at BarCampKL

At BarCampKL last weekend (wow, time flies), one of the more interesting talks I attended was Preetam Rai’s session, on Netbooks. Carolyn was suspicious that a Mac head was at a netbook session, but the reality is, I’ve always been interested in netbooks, ever since I picked up the Asus Eee PC 701.

I didn’t “live tweet” the session, but I did take notes:

  • Keep in mind the small screen – 800×480 is crap. 1024×600 seems to be the new preferred resolution, and it might make things like Google Reader easier to use
  • What browser? Chrome seems to work well – I’ve been Chrome free, considering I don’t run Windows… All this may change, but it seems like the interface of Chrome, the lack of a top toolbar, is a pretty good thing
  • Dock, to make it more OSX like, Rocket Dock – read Preetam’s post about Netbook Tweaks 1: Rocketdock
  • Magnification – The Magnifier, EZ Magnifier
  • Anti-virus – use AVG (free)
  • MSN Messenger – hack to remove ads, mess.be. Otherwise use Pidgin, which as an alternative to MSN Messenger
  • Office – MSOffice isn’t so user friendly on small screens because the toolbars take lots of space. OpenOffice.org is also a problem, in terms of toolbars. Mozilla Prism, then use Google Docs, with offline mode
  • Using Linux? Well, you can contact your local LUG
  • Battery life? Turn of wifi, bluetooth when you don’t need it. Low power saving mode.
  • Windows? Disable computer discovery, bluetooth management
  • Linux? Mind the filesystem, also keep in touch with fstab. You don’t want to kill your SSD
  • How do you speed it up? Upgrade the RAM.
  • Keyboard? 701 has a horrible keyboard. HP seems to do pretty well with their keyboards. Ditto with MSI Winds, the Lenovo, and newer Asus EeePC’s – so the keyboards are getting better

So, with regards to Linux, the Ubuntu Netbook Remix seems to get the most traction. I am partial to Fedora… If I pick up an Asus 1000HE, do I just “enjoy” using Windows? So many thoughts…

  • Just a few points from my experience.

    I prefer Firefox, you can customise the layout and remove the top toolbar, then pull down the windows bar at the bottom and F11 for full screen.

    AVG is the worst free antivirus, I recommend BitDefender or my personal favourite so far Avast!.

    More RAM definitely helps, upgraded the RAM on the eeePC and it’s much better. Have used both Linux and Windows on the netbook, both have ups and downs.

  • Colin – the ASUS eeePC 1000HE has a similar chiclet keyboard as a MacBook. You might be able to hack the 1000HE to make it a “hackintosh”. Do you know macdude from kvpug? He’s using Mac OS on a Dell Mini 9.

    I’m using the 1000H and enjoying it very much.

    I’m also using a browser plugin for Firefox that makes the toolbars smaller to give more space for the actual browser screen, but can’t remember the name of the plugin. Sorry!

  • Preetam Rai

    bytebot, thanks for blogging the notes. I never got around to posting this. Once think I forgot to mention is the windows theme to use on Netbooks. I found that some themes work better (better contrast and cleaner). I prefer the Zune theme. Just googling for Zune Windows theme will find you the download page.


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