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Why I don't (usually) use Windows: Part 2

So. I finally got Win7 working on the Vaio P11Z. Next up: Ubuntu 9.10.

My first stop was an external hard disk and a freeware disk image backup utility, just in case. Having thus secured my ass, I downloaded and burned an Ubuntu 9.10 install CD image, plugged in the DVD drive, and rebooted (having first mashed my finger on the F2 key and brainwashed the BIOS into booting off an external USB device before spinning th hard disk).

The Ubuntu 9.10 install is very anticlimactic. My only deviation from the default setting was to customize my partition layout — in this case, deleting the 9Gb Vista restore partition, and creating a 2Gb swap space and 7Gb ext4 partition for the Ubuntu root in its place. Forty minutes later, Ubuntu is up and running ... and everything works except the accelerated graphics system (which, being an Intel GMA500 I already knew would be a headache). A quick reboot into Windows 7, just to ensure it's still working —

— Oops. Make that a two hour excursion into Windows 7, with triple reboot: Sony's Vaio updater chose that moment to kick off, upgrade a bunch of device drivers, and generally make a nuisance of itself —

— And I'm back in Ubuntu again.

Getting the GMA500 working seemed challenging, so I went to the pub instead, leaving Ubuntu to download 250Mb of updates over the air. Came home mildly drunk at 2am, followed the recipe here (no, I wasn't that drunk), and lo: forty minutes later I had 2D acceleration working. The only challenge is now to squish down the annoying windows cruft that's occupying 80% of the disk.

Today I fired up the Ubuntu install DVD once more, and ran GParted to mess with the partitions on the Vaio. First, I shrank the Windows 7 partition from around 48Gb to 24Gb, resulting in a bunch of free space. Next, I formatted the free space as ext4. Then I quit GParted, mounted the Ubuntu root filesystem and the new free space filesystem, and moved my /home contents onto it (updating /etc/fstab to know about the new location). One permissions whoopsie later — I'm rusty — I was up and running again, and able to pull my work universe across onto the Ubuntu setup.

The one thing I can note so far is that even though a modern Linux distro is pretty heavyweight compared to the Old Skool stuff I started out on (anyone else remember Redhat 2.02 or thereabouts? Slackware 7?), it's far more nimble than Windows 7. Startup time for my admittedly-humongous Thunderbird profile (around 4Gb of mail folders) was about half what it was under Windows; ditto OpenOffice without the quickstarter.

But then, in a spirit of completeness, I tried to fire up Windows 7. And (who knew?) discovered it doesn't like having its partition resized and moved. Not to worry: there are instructions on the web for rendering a resized Windows partition bootable again. Only having done this (at last the Vaio Windows 7 upgrade DVD comes in handy for something), the Windows system is now twiddling its hard disk at high speed — and has been doing so for a good half hour or more. Something has gotten classpnp.sys's knickers in a twist, and it's letting me know about it the hard way.

I'm beginning to question the merit of retaining the Redmond bloatware, but what the hell: I can give it a day or two to get over the trauma of being shoved aside to make space for a newcomer.

The good news is that I've got a working Ubuntu system (and despite some snags, got there in about a tenth the time it took to upgrade the Vaio from Vista to Windows 7). Software suspend and hibernate work; the memory card readers work; it can see the 3G HSPA modem; the graphics chipset is all there. I haven't tried the GPS system — don't know anything about Linux software for doing GPS related stuff — but I'm fairly sure that's going to work, too, if I ever need it. The only snags right now are that the existing GMA500 driver isn't terribly good (although I suspect that'll be fixed in the new year), and I've had a couple of wifi dropouts — I need to look into that, once Windows 7 stops sulking and lets me get back into Linux.

But my overall verdict is that I'll be using the Vaio P a lot as a lightweight travel machine — and I'll be using it under Ubuntu, which is a much better match for its capabilities than Windows 7, never mind Vista.

45 Comments

1:

Okay, I'll be the first to ask since I'm sure it'll come up anyway... why not a hackintosh?

2:

How's battery life under Ubuntu? I always end up moving back to Windows on laptops because of it, and the battery life of the Vaio P seems important to care about.

3:

Slack 7 was my first Slackware. I loved it. That was released in November 1999, almost ten years ago. In fact, I still love me some Slackware, I'm typing this from a Slackware 13 machine. I've got it setup as a bit of a throwback machine--I'm running enlightenment 16 1.0.1 (compiled from sources) as a bare window manager with no desktop environment. (I was running KDE, I threw it out in frustration--it has grown too big. My machine was thrashing doing nothing. More RAM is the wrong answer.)

Tip of the day:
cd /etc
git init
git rm --cached adjtime ld.so.cache mtab random-seed
echo -e "adjtime\nld.so.cache\nmtab\nrandom-seed\n*-\n*~" >> .git/info/exclude
git commit -a

(This puts your /etc under version control using git. It's self-contained and comes with all the usual advantages of source control--revert, undelete, and so on.)

Finally, @ronb: because it's illegal. Apple won't license OSX for use on a Vaio, and if you hadn't noticed, Copyright is a major underpinning of our host's livelyhood.

4:

Why are you working so hard to retain DOS 7 on this box? Do you actually plan to use it someday? Now that you know you can beat the GMA500, are you going to flush the DOS partition?

5:

Redhat 2.0.2 ? Nope, but I do remember a linux edition coming out called Ygdrasil 0.9, on which I bit my teeth. I attempted to install it on my Amiga 500.

See, I had my Amiga installed with a PC Motherboard so it could boot DOS and Wordperfect (I was 23 and looking for work and WP 5.1 and 1-2-3 connaissance were job requirements then) and I very much wanted to have Ygdrasil working to see what it would *actually* do. And it did say it worked only on a PC...

I didn't succeed at this (in hindsight) insane linux installation, although I got quite far in the boot process. After that I think I tried Redhat version 4 or 5 which I at last got working (on a regular pc).

That was about 18 years ago, how time flies. I still have that Ygdrasil manual lying around somewhere...

6:

Oh, and in response to your "who's the old-timer" question, RedHat was around 5.0 when I first tried it (RedHat Linux 5, not RHEL 5) sometime around 1999, after a brief fling with SuSE (as they capitalized it back then).

But I did play around with Version 6 Unix in college circa 1979, and was administrating a couple of PDP-11s with Mini-Unix and Version 7 by 1982 or so. My first job out of school was porting the 4BSD TCP/IP stack to a V7 kernel on an embedded MC68010 system, and it's just gone downhill from there.

7:

Charlie: I thought you were a KDE fan. Or does KDE4 not really work for you? I don't really like GNOME, but KDE4 doesn't really have what I want from a desktop, whereas the old KDE3 did.

Have you tried CrunchBang Linux? Very good relatively lightweight Ubuntu-based distro, uses OpenBox as the window manager. If you're looking to use that machine for travel, maybe that might be worth considering.

8:

Trying to remember the specs of my first laptop; a 386SL25. I'm pretty sure there was 1Mb RAM and 5Mb of disk allocated to Linux (it dual booted into DOS/Windows 3.1 - I had "stacker" on that to give more space to Microsoft).

That Linux install (home grown) ran an X server, a networking stack (via a parallel port ethernet adapter), had space for manpages and a C compiler. I compiled kernels on it, developed software for it, used it as a test environment etc. Heh, that laptop traveled to Greece, the Philippines, Holland, Portugal, Spain, America and spent time onboard a few supertankers.

9:

ronb @1: hackintoshing? I kind of like having network access, you know. (Google on hackintosh and vaio p if you want to understand this.)

kbob: it's useful to have something the TSA recognize when you're passing through airport security.

Matthew: I second your opinion of KDE 4 with respect to KDE 3.x.

10:

I enjoyed my computing life much more the day I realized I didn't have to advocate or "evangelize" GNU/Linux anymore. I didn't have to explain why you'd want to use it. I just handed someone a CD, and they figured it out. It got passed around and installed on 3 other systems before I'd hear back about it. No support calls necessary.

I felt kind of useless, until I realized how much time it would save me.

11:

I've given up on the OS evangelism thing.

I just want a system that doesn't need its hand holding all the bloody time. (Luckily I know where to go and get it: Anywhere But Redmond.)

NB: The Win7 safe mode startup completed after 3 hours and the machine rebooted okay. I'm now tidying up the Win7 filesystem and chopping out unwanted cruft before I switch back to Ubuntu and finally get everything ship-shape -- there are still a few chores (trying to get GMA500 support on the most recent kernel; failing that, setting the default kernel to boot under Grub to be the one that Just Works™ -- that sort of thing).

12:

@9: At this point, I'd think you'd be a lot better off running virtualized Windows XP in a fullscreen window. Tell them Ubuntu is a "fancy boot loader."

13:

Not so sure I'd go with Ubuntu myself to be honest, not for something that Just Works. I ran Ubuntu for quite a few years, but in the end packed it in and wend back to Debian purely because all the updates meant I spent way too much time upgrading and tweaking and not enough time actually working.

Final straw was KDE4. Look, it's nice and shiny, I know, but it doesn't work yet. It was swapped in as the default - and in fact, only allowed - option in Ubuntu a while back, before things like proxies and such were working. Half the things KDE 3.5.6 did, KDE 4 (and 4.1) couldn't (and still cannot) do. Bleh. Enough allready. That, and updates that didn't work? No. No more. Back to Debian. It might only update every year or two, but sod it - that way I get all the security updates as I go, and I only lose a day or two every two or three years and the rest of the time I can actually use the damn machine! :-D

14:

Mark: Eh? I take it you were running Kubuntu, then? I'm not (I know better than to poke KDE 4). I'm running stock Ubuntu 9.10 LTS with Gnome. Not even messing with Netbook Remix.

15:

Yes, Kubuntu from '04 to this year, and Xubuntu on an old laptop until this year as well. Still have it on a few machines, but I'm not upgrading them past Heron. Never did like Gnome all that much, I went over to KDE early on because it Just Worked and looked coherent - Gnome didn't at the time, it was far more patchwork in appearance.

What they were thinking with KDE4... well, okay, I know what they were thinking and they did have a point, but what the distribution packagers were thinking, I really don't know. KDE 3.5.6 was a fine solid work platform, why you were forced to "upgrade" I don't know. I don't even run KDE on Debian as a result anymore, I moved over to XFCE instead.

16:

Sorry to use this blog to ask random strangers a question, but it does fall in with the current discussion about the Ubuntus and KDE3/4 etc (I rechecked the moderation policy; I don't think it's against the rules, but I'll totally understand if Charlie deletes it!). This has been annoying me for years. So here goes...

Is there any way of getting modern window managers to work in a sane manner? By this I mean "click to focus" and no "autoraise". This drives me insane with MS Windows (just because I have a window in focus doesn't mean I need it in front). Currently I use fvwm1.24r (yes, that old!) because it allows me to change focus and raise/lower windows as separate actions, but I just can't work out how to get the native Gnome/KDE window managers to do this.

Why, you ask? Because sometimes I might be typing into a large "low" window based on data from a small "raised" window. With autoraise, clicking on the back window to make it focus and so bringing it to the front destroys that functionality.

This, more than anything else, is stopping me from using modern Linux window managers (so I lose out on pretty! shiny! functionality this WMs can provide, simply because I couldn't do my day job that way).

17:

I just "upgraded" my main PC from Win 7 RC1 to the retail Win 7 Home Premium version today. There is a $30 download deal for university students right now, and I decided to take advantage of it before the RC stopped working in March.

Even though it was supposed to be an upgrade from Vista or XP, everything went extremely smoothly. I just downloaded the iso and burned it to a DVD, then rebooted and installed. It didn't seem bothered that I didn't actually have XP or Vista to upgrade from, and moved all the files from my previous installation into a separate folder. Which was nice, because after the install was finished, I just moved all of my media and document files back without resorting to my backups.

A much, much smoother experience than any other MS product I've used. I do get the feeling that MS doesn't like people tinkering around with the system using 3rd party tools though, which I suspect is why you had so much trouble. From their POV, it makes sense to make things as difficult as possible for rival products.

18:

Charlie,

Glad to hear your Ubuntu experience went well. For Linux, it's currently my choice as a primary partition - I could list the others I've tried and decided not to go with, but that's for a different soapbox. My current 'next challenge' is to play with Grub 2 more - I like Grub 2, but it lacks some of the (relative, if you're comfortable in command line and text editors) ease of Grub 1 (aka legacy grub).

Some of the graphics drivers are a pain - sadly, overpriced nVidia currently seems to have the best support on Linux out of the graphics cards industry.

I'm fearing the de-crufting and shrinking of my Windows Vista partition, which currently hogs 100gb on my 320gb HDD, sharing with a couple Ubuntu installs and one somewhat orphaned Sabayon install. Since Vista's disk manager refuses to shrink size, I'll have to hammer away at it a bit. The Vista install is (sadly) needed for tech support purposes.

I must be an oddity, as I actually like Gnome - it just 'works' for my work flow, and it is set up in such a way that it doesn't get in the way.

My weekend experiment was getting working HDMI video and audio output from my Ubuntu 9.10 laptop to my Samsung T240HD monitor. Two Google searches later (One: nVidia's driver having some problems with /etc/X11/xorg.conf, requiring a wipe and re-create of the xorg.conf. Two: HDMI audio muted, resolved by launching alsamixer from command line and de-muting that output), the only thing I need to play with is some Compiz Fusion hiccups.
Unlike Windows XP spanning to the same monitor, which resulting in (1) BSOD and (2) hard-lockups, through DVI in that instance.

19:

Stephen Harris @16

It can be done.

On my current (admittedly elderly) Gnome desktop, there's an option in the menu that drops dowm from the icon on the left of the title bar (or you can right click on the entry for the window you want in the taskbar for the desktop) called On Top which keeps that window on top, even when the focus is elsewhere. You do have to set it first on the window you will be reading, then move focus to where you want it.

If when I at long last upgrade (planned for soon), it is no longer there I shall be cross. As you say, useful.

J Homes

20:

Stephen@16: You can lock windows above other windows in most windowmanagers. Right click on the title bar and somewhere in there should be an option called "above" or "on top" or the like (the former is what enlightenment uses and the latter is, IIRC, what KDE calls the option). This will peg the window on the top of the stack. If you find yourself doing this all the time, you can usually set a keybinding to toggle the setting on the currently focused window. I do this all the time.

21:

I have Ubuntu as my primary OS, but instead of using a dual boot scenario, I moved to vmware Workstation, that supports Ubuntu.
With vmware you get the best of both worlds an you can forget all this issues about resizing, rebooting, fixing.
Bonus: with vmware i make a checkpoint of the virtual machine before every WindowsUpdate. If the update fails or trashes the installation (happened once) I simply rollback the state of the vm. Priceless.

22:

Congrats Charlie on your perseverance – had that experience – windows wrestling with widgets for weeks (days actually but doesn't start with a w).
I recently bought a dell laptop. In this country (nz) you can't get the linux option so it came with vista. Actually it didn't get to run. I'd had it configured with intel cpu and chipset. In went my cd with debian squeeze and an hour later I was surfing. Took a while to get the wireless working as it was broadcom but used ndiswrapper (hello neighbour's!! amazing how many unsecured networks there are in suburbia).
Used kde4 – it's ok it works. Sound caused a small problem but google fixed it.
All in all it was a fun process and I ended up with a laptop that had what I wanted on it.

23:

Ah, Charlie... so, when you freshly installed Ubuntu you had a better experience than when you messed with an OEM pre-install of Win7 + crapware by trying to remove bits and pieces? And that with your background being deep in unices and shallow in DOS based operating systems? Such a surprise.

I installed 7 three times this weekend, on different machines and customized it for my parents family. Total install time per

Do your self a favor, ditch the pile of crud Sony's install left you with and start from scratch.

Alternatively, Win7 works wonderfully in VMWare, so you might consider standardizing on Linux as a platform. That's how I run it back home.

24:

Luigi: virtualization ain't going to fly on a 1.33GHz Atom-based netbook.

ms: not surprising, no, but bear in mind the subsequent partition-resizing fun ...

NB: I have already standardized on Mac OS X as a platform. A stable Linux netbook as fallback, with a Win7 partition for any occasions when I need a specific Windows-only tool (e.g. for configuring routers) is what this is about.

25:

Stephen@16: In Gnome, fire up gconf-editor and set

/apps/metacity/general/auto_raise to false and
/apps/metacity/general/focus_mode to "sloppy" or "mouse"

Should get you the behaviour you're after.

26:

Stephen@16: Install and boot into the much maligned KDE4 (the current, working, 4.3 this is) and (in Kubuntu) to go system settings > window behaviour > focus and deselect "Click raises active window", then go to system settings > window behaviour > window actions and change left click from "activate, raise & pass click" to "activate" or "activate & pass click", to taste.

The earlier KDE4s were indeed a pain, but since 4.3 everything my heavily customised 3.5.6 could do, 4.3 can do. It's even taught me a few cool new tricks too.

27:

IME, with Windows partitions/installs/booting/that-kind-of-thing, *every single thing you do breaks*.

Whenever you do something you've not done before, it breaks something. The things you've done before, they also broke things, but now you know either a. not to do them or b. the wierd shit you have to do to do them without breaking.

Once you've done that a few times, you know what to do and what not to do; and in general, I've become utterly conservative.

For example, if I'm installing Windows on a hard disk, I *physically disconnect* the other drives in the system (reconnect them later, after the install process).

The other problem with Windows is that it does a lot of pro-active stuff in the spirit of 'being helpful' - the problem being that you don't get a choice about whether or not it's done and when it's not helpful, but actually harmful (most of time, alas), then Windows is pro-actively causing you a problem which you have to fix.

28:

Perhaps you need the Chinese pirate version of WinXP that's actually a graphical skin of XP wrapped around Ubuntu Linux?

29:

The big difference is that Windows assumes that it is in total and sole control of your PC, whereas Linux doesn't. This in turn is because most of Microsoft's users are quite happy with that deal. They think of "the computer" as one thing, a black box, with Windows as its controlling intelligence. If it chooses to hang, or reboot, or install some new software, or reformat the hard drives, then that must be the right thing to do.

There is a fundamental paradox in the nature of the computer as we understand it today. Most of the problems everyone has with it stem from bloatware, feature creep, and the computer's defining characteristic: programmability. They make it uniquely ill-suited as a packaged consumer device. Yet, without them, PCs would not have sold in the billions - and hence become cheap and ubiquitous. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Perhaps it would be helpful if someone could devise a standard user interface widget that lets you tell the computer system how expert you are, and how much housekeeping you want to take over from it. The default would be "software handles everything", and you could tell it on Day One (or when you install the OS) exactly how you want to divide up the various responsibilities with it.

30:

(Typing this under the influence of codeine so be kind...)

For most Linux users it seems that tracking down "recipes" on the Web, hand-editing a bunch of .conf files, moving files around, typing line noise at various places and still not getting important parts of the target system (such as video drivers) to work properly is "easy" and "painless" and shows that "Linux just works".

For most Windows users, installing Windows means putting the disc in and running it. In Charlie's case when he installed the Win7 upgrade the installer saw that someone had been screwing around with the previous installation and rather than assume everything was OK it performed some exhaustive file system checks before finishing the install.

I run Windows kit, I sell my skills (such as they are) keeping Windows kit running in offices etc. and I must admit I have used some "magic" knowledge to fix problems but I regard Windows installations and general operation as a low-skill process. Conversely Linux installs for me tend to be screaming nightmare-filled horrors. The problems with Linux such as they are usually have obvious solutions, assuming I had the same levels of experience of installing Linux that I actually have of Windows installs.

31:

@ALL

Thanks for the ideas on configuring window managers. I don't want a "pin to top" because what I want on top is dynamic and changes (I love the old OpenLook "raise"/"lower" keys that were on Sun keyboards), but some of the other options look worth investigating.

Thanks!

32:

i have to admit i keep XP around for about 2 programs and have no intention of paying M$ $300 for the privilege of beta testing thier crapware. anyway, since you mentioned slackware, have you tried zenwalk? it's a slackware-based distro that's built foir ease of use. it's stable, quick, good out-of-the-box functinality and has a decent repo. it's harder to set up as a dual boot than ubuntu, but IMHO it's worth the small extra effort.

33:

Jeff@20: "On top" is close, but I don't want to have to set that each time, then remember to unset it. I just don't want auto-raise; "on top" is not a good replacement

Phil@25: I need "click to focus". Your solution is "focus follows mouse" which is, IMHO, an abomination (FWIW you can also get XP to do this). Can metacity do "click to focus" without "autoraise" ?

Marek@26: At work I use RedHat 4 (so KDE 3.3.1 is an option, maybe). At home I use CentOS 5 (so KDE 3.5.4 may be an option). I don't have KDE installed on either, but I could add them and try it out. Are those options available in the older KDEs?

Again, thanks all for your time in answering this (non-Charlie) question! I'm thinking this might be better taken out of his blog, so if you want to mail me at sweh at spuddy dot org then your help will be appreciated.

Thanks!

34:

Marek@26.. in CentOS5, K-Menu/Control-center then desktop/Window Behavior. On the Focus tab, "click to focus" and unselect "click raise active window". Ont he Window Actions tab, Inactive inner window "activate & pass click" for all three buttons.

That seems to do most of what I want. Now I need to workout how to remap keyboard shortcuts (eg raise/lower) :-)

35:

@14:

Ubuntu won't churn out another LTS version until next year (version 10.04). The "current" LTS is 8.04.

36:

Jeff@3: Ubuntu has a package called "etckeeper" that helps with keeping /etc under version control. From the package information:

The etckeeper program is a tool to let /etc be stored in a git, mercurial, bzr or darcs repository. It hooks into APT to automatically commit changes made to /etc during package upgrades. It tracks file metadata that version control systems do not normally support, but that is important for /etc, such as the permissions of /etc/shadow. It's quite modular and configurable, while also being simple to use if you understand the basics of working with version control.
37:

Huh. Does etckeeper work with RCS? That's the most recent configuration management tool I'm current with. Never did get my head around CVS ...

38:

By default, etckeeper uses bazaar (bzr). It does not support RCS, what with this being the twenty-first century and all :-)

You can run it as "sudo etckeeper commit" and it will commit any changes right there and then. For other uses you'll have to fall back to using the VCS itself, ie. you'll just use commands such as "sudo bzr status" or "sudo bzr revert" in /etc.

39:

Why go to all of this effort to make a dual-boot system, when Windows and Ubuntu can be run under virtualisation software? VirtualBox is free, and its performance is surprisingly good. It also avoids a number of driver issues.

I originally bought an Intel Macbook intending to use Boot Camp. I never got around to it or to messing with disk partitions; these days I have XP SP3, Ubuntu 9.10 and Fedora 12 running as OS X guests under VirtualBox, and use them for software development. I installed Ubuntu under Windows 7 - in under half an hour, no partitioning required.

Or, if you don't fancy virtualisation, there's always Cygwin to run unix tools under Windows. (Having it running under XP SP3 under VirtualBox under Mac OS X is a little perverse, but it works.)

Dual-boot and still only using RCS rather than CVS/svn/mercurial is _so_ 1990s.

On Windows 7: Home Premium 64-bit is the minimum version worth using. Anyone buying a netbook with Windows Starter and actually paying for a Windows upgrade (GBP70) should imo have spent that money on a better-specified computer.

40:

Why go to all of this effort to make a dual-boot system, when Windows and Ubuntu can be run under virtualisation software? VirtualBox is free, and its performance is surprisingly good. It also avoids a number of driver issues.

I originally bought an Intel Macbook intending to use Boot Camp. I never got around to it or to messing with disk partitions; these days I have XP SP3, Ubuntu 9.10 and Fedora 12 running as OS X guests under VirtualBox, and use them for software development. I installed Ubuntu under Windows 7 - in under half an hour, no partitioning required.

Or, if you don't fancy virtualisation, there's always Cygwin to run unix tools under Windows. (Having it running under XP SP3 under VirtualBox under Mac OS X is a little perverse, but it works.)

Dual-boot and still only using RCS rather than CVS/svn/mercurial is _so_ 1990s.

On Windows 7: Home Premium 64-bit is the minimum version worth using. Anyone buying a netbook with Windows Starter and actually paying for a Windows upgrade (GBP70) should imo have spent that money on a better-specified computer.

41:

Steve @40: you didn't read my original blog entry, to which this is a sequel, before farting your opinion in here. Your opinion, for what it's worth, is rather less use than a clean pair of pants. (Hint: if Apple sold a 600-gram jacket-pocket-sized macbook with a typable keyboard, I wouldn't be installing Ubuntu on a Sony device. Physical size and form has at least as much of an impact on usability as choice of software ...)

42:

(Hmmm, double post previously. Whoops, sorry.)

Charlie @41: you avoided answering my question. Yes, you have a piece of hardware in a form factor that Apple doesn't make. That's not relevant to the VirtualBox point - VB runs on Windows 7, and you could have installed Ubuntu under VB under Windows 7 with much less effort (and without partitioning or WiFi problems).

Despite your claim @24 that virtualisation won't fly on a slow Atom (which can be tied to your form factor point), I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. It's not emulation; the processor family's the same.

Making any computer dual-boot is a seriously negative impact on usability. It's like having the hemispheres of your brain forcibly separated.

What version of Windows 7 are you now using?

43:

Steve: see previous posting.

The machine in question has less than 60Gb of hard disk space, total, and I need to carry around 12Gb of data with me. This doesn't leave a lot of space for multiple OS images. Nor does 2Gb of RAM -- of which 500Mb is handed over to the video chipset -- leave enough space to comfortably run 2 OSs concurrently.

My only reason for not vaping Windows completely is that I don't have a Windows license for any other machine in my possession -- it's prudent to keep it to hand, Just In Case, but I don't need to run it day to day, or even week to week.

My primary use for this machine is to check email on the move, with a secondary use of being able to check websites and, if necessary, type for a few hours. Games? I've heard of them.

44:

Jolicloud works great with the GMA500. Its the only distro I've been able to get to work with my eeepc 1101 (everything else breaks suspend to RAM).
Thanks for posting the info in the comments.

45:

Windows is incredibly annoying. I picked up a runout Vaio P over the weekend, naturally one of the Vista models. I was pleasantly surprised how straightfoward almost everything was to get running with ubuntu 9.10 except hardware accelerated 2d graphics, which required a surprisingly difficult to find (but essentially trivial) kernel parameter incantation.

Otherwise, everything was fairly straightforward. Very cute little machine indeed.

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