Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mandriva 2009 One KDE 4 Edition

I installed Mandriva 2009 onto an SD card, booting from an Asus EeePC 701. It takes over 2 minutes to boot to the desktop & is simply unusable on such a small screen. The panel is way too huge & if you try to reduce it, the tray icons get screwed up. The Folder view thing is really stupid & the widgets provided are totally useless. I moved it to full sized 13' laptop & gave it my usual runover.

So basically, KDE 4.1 is still pretty much useless as an everyday desktop. Nice to play with, but not something you want to use daily. I think Mandriva made a bad move moving to KDE4 so soon. Especially when they have not put too much effort into making it work well. OpenSuse at least managed to make KDE4 somewhat usable, so Mandriva has no excuse. They really should have offered KDE3.5 on the One CD. If they wanted people to test out KDE4, then they should have release 3 versions of the One CD.
1. KDE 3.5
2. KDE 4.1
3. Gnome

Removing KDE 3.5 is a very bad move. Even PCLinuxOS 2009 will come with KDE 3.5 as default because it simply works better.
I won't be upgrading to Mandriva 2009 at all. I'd wait for 2009.1 & see how that goes. For now, Mandriva 2008.1 is an extremely good release & I suspect will remain so for some time until KDE4 reaches feature parity with (at least) Gnome.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with Ubuntu Mobile Edition

I got my hands on a brand new Dell Inspiron Mini 9 a few weeks ago & couldn't wait to test out the pre-loaded Ubuntu on it. What it came with surprised me somewhat & it certainly will surprise anyone expecting it to be the stock Ubuntu with some minor Dell tweaks.

The Ubuntu pre-loaded was very far from the standard Desktop edition. It is actually a heavily customized version of Ubuntu Mobile Edition (ume).

What does that mean exactly? It does not use standard Ubuntu packages, all the packages are compiled for the Low Power Intel Architecture (lpia). This also means that it does not utilize the standard Ubuntu repositories for packages. Dell provides a custom repository for updates & software. This means adding any 3rd party Ubuntu repositories is not possible. This is not a big issue as the Dell repository proved to be quite complete in providing all the packages I usually use.

The advantage you gain from using ume is the incredible speed. From power button press to a fully loaded desktop took just under 40 seconds. The desktop was also very responsive & application performance was great. The battery life is also quite good at about 3 hrs 20 mins. (in comparison, my EeePC 701 running Eeebuntu Netbook Edition took over 70 seconds to boot & only managed 2 hrs 40 mins despite having double the capacity)

Dell has designed a nice looking 'Easy Mode' style interface to run on their desktop. It's surprisingly customizable & looks awesome with it's flowing animated transitions. This is nice, but may annoy those who prefer a more traditional Ubuntu desktop. So they have thoughtfully provided an easy way to switch back to the standard desktop.

There are a few other notes that I'll simply list out:
- It uses a squashed root. Which reduced the footprint to just over 2GB.
- Compiz has been removed completely. It's not even possible to install it. (trust me, this is a good thing)
- Fluendo Codecs & Codeina provides for all your media playback needs. Java & Flash pre-installed.
- Incredibly good Bluetooth support. Even works perfectly with A2DP headsets.
- The 8GB SSD version I got certainly isn't enough for me. Invest in a 16GB Class 6 SDHC card.
- The SSD is pretty slow at 15Mbps write. Checkout RunCore's SSD for an upgrade.

Finally, what do I think about the Dell Inspiron Mini 9? Recommended. But I'd wait for the 32GB version. ;)