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Ten Things About My NB200

October 26, 2009

It’s already been almost two months since I’ve updated the blog?!
I guess I’ve gotten sucked head-first into a new semester at work.

So what’s the news?

1) Thank you! Some awesome responses from readers since my last post! Thanks for your questions and comments, and sorry for not replying faster.
First thing to do is set up my blog to email me when someone comments….

2) Virtualbox: I’m happy with the performance of virtualbox running windows 2000 on this machine. As a teacher I need it for running Markbook at work. I save my marks for my classes on a USB memory key, so I can use my netbook or the desktops at work for entering marks. I have a dual boot working on the NB200, but rebooting into windows for Markbook takes longer, and it prevents me from using my beloved ubuntu programs.

3) GradeL: Added to my programs under Education was GradeL version 0.11.1. It’s a program for teachers to track class marks and attendance. It’s similar to the windows program gradekeeper. A good grade book program is well needed in the linux world, so the development here is exciting to see. Installing was easy through a .deb package. I have to say I was impressed at how helpful and quickly the author Allen Murphy replied to my setup questions. Initially there were not printers showing up in the dialog box, so I had to enter the line :
Printcap /etc/printcap
to /etc/cups. More discussion on this here.
I found in this version some functions were still buggy and the program crashed occasionally. I found it useable, but in the end our adminstration required Markbook to be used by all teachers anyway.

4) Tomboy: Every day I’m logging into tomboy my lesson notes at the end of each class. I have a Tomboy note for each course, where I copy my blackboard notes, assignments and student issues are recorded. At the start of the semester I copied a simple text calendar to each note, so the overall semester course days, holidays, reporting deadlines and exam dates are set up in advance. This routine seems to be working really well.

5)Gnome Panels: I found the UNR program launcher to have changed in one update last month, where the program icon size was increased with too much wasted space between the icons, so I had to scroll down to see all the icons. This should be something users can customize in a preferences panel (maybe in a future version?) It was slower and more cumbersome to use, and I didn’t like it anymore, so I’ve disabled it and now use gnome panels. I added the ‘drawer’ widget to keep my ‘favourites’ only a mouse click away.

To disable it:
System–>preferences–>startup applications: uncheck Netbook Launcher

Screen real estate is limited and so I do enjoy using the Maximus Window Management. This causes the window to open maximized and the window frame to be removed. The window title becomes a tab in the gnome menu bar with the window picker applet. If I want to have a window frame to resize the window smaller or make it ‘sticky’ and always stay on top, I just press Alt and with the mouse grab the window and pull it down, and voila it suddenly pops out into a smaller window.
So now with the gnome panels, my system looks a little bit more like a typical Ubuntu gnome system. But one thing I should fix; my desktop always remains blank without icons for some reason.

6) Smaller cable: Park of the bulk in my bag is from the 6ft power cable. I’m planning on getting a shorter power cable for the power adaptor from amazon or SF Cable I’ll be sure to update more about this when it arrives.

7) Wifi: A recent system upgrade seems to have fixed that issue with flaky wireless. I just suspend and resume as I like and it works great!

8 ) USB transfer speed: This is an issue I’ve read on the forums that is an ongoing problem for people using both ubuntu and windows… USB 2.0 hardware is supposed to be capable of 60MB/s. I can copy large data files to or from an external drive at 25MB/s. And I can copy large data files from an external drive to another external drive at 17/MB/s. Yes this is a bit of a speed loss compared to the theoretical 60MB/s. Not sure why this is, and research on Ubuntu forums leads on a wild goose chase. Does anyone have any idea why this is or if speeds can be improved somehow?

9)Evolution: I swear I posted about my new found love for Evolution already, but don’t see it on the blog yet…  I’m now a full time Evolution user, and have switched back after using Thunderbird for a year.   In the past year it’s had some great changes, so I’m using it for an IMAP email client with Gmail. (Thunderbird with POP was not sending me all my messages and friends were gettting annoyed).

The calendar does a two way sync perfectly with Google calendars now.  I find I need to turn off the side bar to comfortably see the whole calendar month view.

I’ve mentioned before how I like the package called ‘contacts’ that works with Evolutions address book.  So I have that in my favourites drawer along with the little ‘Tasks’ package that works with the To Do list in Evolution, and ‘Dates’ which gives a simpler view of the calendar. You don’t have to load the whole evolution suite with these little apps. They work very nicely on this netbook with the small screen, and contribute to a minimal lighter feel.  The website for Contacts, Tasks, and Dates is here.  You can install them in the terminal with:

sudo apt-get install contacts tasks dates

10) Only 3 days to go until the official release of Karmic 9.10!   Although I suppose that on the release day, it’s entirely possible that nothing will happen on my NB200, because it’s already fully installed.  Maybe an update might happen?

I’ve never installed an alpha release months in advance before.   Overall I’ve been impressed with how well the pre-release software ran, and glad I tried installing it in July.  It only got borked once after an update in September, but that was quickly remedied by a dist-upgrade.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2009 6:10 am

    Nice Post, btw do you know any good usenet archives and or mailing list archives site for unix / linux / bsd

  2. GiGi Abbrescia permalink
    November 14, 2009 3:26 am

    Hi, first thanks for yours comments, second a little question: on my NB 200 I try to boot UNR from usb stick but never happens after I choose live boot (only appears ubuntu logo and then disappear).

    Ubuntu 9.10 version desktop, instead, starts (but slowly – I thing for FAT16 on usb stick). Any suggestions for UNR?


    • dimeotane permalink*
      November 15, 2009 1:03 pm

      I installed UNR 9.10 (alpha) to a USB stick using the USB installer on another computer. I recall that I had to press an f key (f12?) to bring up the devices menu to choose what I was booting from, and the netbook didn’t always detect the USB as an option to boot from. It sounds to me like you’ve gotten that far already though. I don’t recall having any problems getting the live (alpha) 9.10 to boot from USB key.

      On the forums there is a comment about USB not booting if you’ve performed an ‘update’ on the USB key:
      Perhaps that might help. Best of luck,

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