Sound and Vision
Photographs are supported via F-Spot which helps you organize photographs. It surprised me by recognizing my Canon G9 when I plugged it in and downloaded RAW format photographs. Like iPhoto, it includes integration with Flickr. It doesn't allow you to edit, but Google's Picasa is available and does exactly that, giving more or less the same features of Apple's iPhoto.
Gimp (a Photoshop replacement) is also available, if I want to do heavy editing. The small screen doesn't help, but the processor and system manages well.
Want to play Music? Well you'll need Rhythmbox.
I plugged one of my iPods into the Acer and it recognized it and asked if I wanted to upload the music. Once it had done that it was more than happy to play all but the DRM protected music (normally, I convert to mp3 but missed a few). Rhythmbox also does podcasts and so I was able to add BBC Radio 4's “The Archers” (don't ask) and have it automatically download episodes.
As an experiment I loaded up a movie (.mov) and mplayer played it with no hesitation in full screen and synchronized sound. It surprised me by being able to play Apples' AAC encoded (.m4p) movies.
Again, battery life is a problem here. Being barely able to play one movie on a single charge is not good on a long haul flight.
Of course, NetBooks are not only about work, they are about networking and socialising. That means that the web is accessible and that all of the various Web 2.0 elements, scripting languages and virtual machines run (and run efficiently).
Naturally, in Ubuntu, web browsing is via Firefox. Flash is available as is support for Windows Media via an mplayer plugin. RealPlayer also provides a plugin, although this is less of a concern as it is not that popular (except with the BBC). Microsoft's Silverlight, their competitor to Adobe's Flash can be easily downloaded.
The BBC iPlayer, Flickr and Facebook all “just worked”. In addition, I followed various HOWTOs and configured Firefox so that it gave over most of the screen to the web.
I have also set up Twitix, a Linux Twitter client; this works well, but is not as pretty as Twitterrific on my MacBook.
Overall, I am impressed with Ubuntu Remix . There's an awful lot there that is right, and most of the work that I've had to do would be taken care of by the original equipment supplier. There are a few rough edges, but this is, after all, early software. There were many things that surprised and delighted me – Linux on the desktop has come a long way since I last seriously used it. I like the Remix GUI and, even in an early form, it's pretty smooth. I look forward to it as it evolves. It's already much more aesthetically pleasing and logical than Windows XP (but has yet to match Apple's zen like perfection). The worst thing that you can say about it is that it is not Windows.
The system has been incredibly reliable, with only one crash in the week that I've been playing with it (and I'm blaming the Cisco VPN client for that one).
The community support for Ubuntu on the Acer Aspire One (and I’m guessing on other platforms) is wonderful. There's a huge amount of well written help on the net. Most of the problems that I've fixed have been a matter of googling for information and following the instructions. Getting mobile broadband to work was a good example of this.
The biggest annoyance is the battery life . This makes the Acer Aspire One a toy. If it could manage a day away from home without a charge, I'd be happy.
If I had a free hand, I'd make it slimmer and perhaps make the screen slightly larger (although it's small enough to use in a cramped economy seat). It's probably about the smallest it can be and sport a proper touch typist's keyboard but it's not ideal for writing slides or documents such as this one. Anything more than light hacking needs an external monitor. Hmmm, this is starting to sound a lot like the MacBook Air, so maybe Apple have got the right idea.
I would, of course, also have an ARM processor or two in there...
David Rusling, ARM Fellow, David was born a few weeks before Sputnik was launched. He's always liked mathematics, but America's space program together with 'Star Trek' made him think that computers were really interesting and so he graduated in 1982 with a degree in Computer Science. The future turns out to have less flashing lights than he expected. After hacking networking boxes for Digital Equipment Corporation, he got involved in the port of Linux to the Alpha processor. This gave him an abiding respect for the power of open source in general and Linux in particular. He worked on StrongARM before moving to ARM where he added tools experience. He's an ARM Fellow; which he says, "really means that I'm a techno-dweeb with a wide freedom to meddle." His official role is to set the technical direction for ARM's tools and software story.
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