Linux laptop

Asus dominates the market for super small, super cheap Linux / XP based mini-notebook pc. It is believed that they may have sold over 5 million Eee PCs. Now you can grab this PC for free. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is running spring 2008 promotion and giving out a free Asus EEE PC for every new account opened with them. Similarly you can signup to T-Mobile’s ‘Web n Walk’ max mobile boradband package for £35 per month ona 24 month contract and get a free USB modem and a free Asus EEE PC ultra mobile PC.

It turns out that people just wanted a regular laptop, but much smaller and cheaper. When Asus came out with its mostly solid state, plain vanilla PC running Linux (and now XP), the masses flocked. And now, Acer, Dell, HP and possibly Sony, as well as a smattering of smaller companies, are rushing their own cheap-and-tiny offerings.

=> Here Comes the Asus ‘Freee PC’? (via Slashdot)

Intel Atom processor used by ultra-mobile PCs, smart phone, other portable and low-power applications. Ubuntu announced Ubuntu Linux Remix, the new operating system will be targeted to OEM vendors that are building their own netbooks for sale to end users. From the press release:

Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, today announced that it will be demonstrating a reworked desktop image of Ubuntu built specifically for a new category of portable Internet-centric devices – netbooks. These affordable, power-efficient, small screen devices, based on the ground breaking low-power micro-architecture of the Intel Atom processor, and Ubuntu allow consumers to enjoy email, instant messaging, Internet surfing and on-line access to photos, videos or music with an affordable, reliable device.

=> Canonical Showcases Ubuntu Netbook Remix at Computex

The One Laptop Per Child Project and Microsoft plan to make both Windows and Linux available on a version of the project’s XO Laptop. It means the little green laptop would now run Windows XP as well as Linux. According to Nicholas Negroponte:

OLPC is not in the open-source advocacy business … we’re in the education business.

This will not just kill enthusiasm for the project but the project itself. Windows XP will not run smoothly on low end hardware. It will be now dual-boot system with Sugar and Microsoft’s Student Innovation Suite, a US$3 software (Windows XP, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, Microsoft Math 3.0, Learning Essentials 2.0 for Microsoft Office and Windows Live Mail software).

More information available here.

OLPC did not specify the price of the dual-boot system.

To help schools offer affordable computing to every student, HP today introduced a full-function, mini-notebook Linux powered PC priced starting under $500. HP will join a fledgling market already populated with products from Intel Corp., the world’s largest semiconductor company, and Asustek Computers Inc., the world’s largest maker of computer motherboards.

The only way to keep cost is use Linux and create network only computer for everybody. Windows vista cannot be installed because of price tag and higher hardware requirements.

Notebook features

  • Simple, refined design and anodized aluminum shell that is sleek and sturdy yet lightweight;
    HP DuraKeys, featuring a clear coating applied over the notebook keyboard that protects the finish and printed letters and characters;
  • An HP 3D DriveGuard, which sends a signal to shut down the hard drive upon sudden movement or shock by using a three-axis digital accelerometer chip
  • Scratch-resistant display and magnesium hinge bracket
  • A large 8.9-inch diagonal WXGA display, user-friendly full keyboard (QWERTY) and touchpad;
  • Ability to view video, still-image capture, web conferencing or video-enhanced instant messaging with no additional hardware to buy or carry. An optional integrated VGA webcam enables video and still-image capture to allow the addition of photos and video clips to presentations, documents and email;
  • Two battery solutions – three-cell for lightest-weight configurations or optional six-cell for longer battery life;
  • Wireless technologies such as integrated Wi-Fi Certified WLAN(3) and optional Bluetoothâ„¢, allowing students to access the Internet as well as communicate via email, IM, chat, VOIP and blogging. The wireless technologies also enable connections at hotspots as well as with Bluetooth devices such as printers, mice and headsets; and
  • The processors HP is using are made by Via Technologies Inc., the distant third-ranked player in the microprocessor space, and come in clock speeds up to 1.6 gigahertz.

=> More information available here and here.

A nice guide for installing common multimedia software under a fresh Ubuntu Linux:

You’ve just download the latest and greatest version of Ubuntu Linux and it didn’t cost you a thing. You breezed through the installation and a brand new desktop is staring you in the face — now what?

There are a few things you’ll need to do if you want to get the most out of your Linux desktop. But don’t worry, none of this is too complicated. In fact, it’s much easier than trying to do the same on Windows or a Mac.

=> Optimize Fresh Ubuntu Installation

Eee Pc launch is scheduled on 29th January 2008. People interested in purchasing Eee PC should directly contact Asus Mumbai Headquarters. You can also book online at Asus EEE Pc India website. Models are galaxy black and pearl white for INR 18,000/ price.

More information about EEE PC specification available here. I’m going to get one for myself 😀

Update: I talked to someone at Asus and PC will be available from 1st week of Feb-2008 for rest of the India. So if you are in Bangalore or Delhi wait till next week.

This is a good news for all European Linux users. You can now order Dell Laptop preloaded with Ubuntu Linux 7.10.

From the Dell blog:

Starting today, customers in Germany, United Kingdom, France and now Spain can purchase Ubuntu Linux 7.10 with built-in DVD playback on the XPS 1330n (in addition to the previously-released Inspiron 530n desktop system. For U.S. customers, you’ll have to hold on a week or so.

Ubuntu 7.10 runs great on the XPS M1330. It has more power, more style. Take a look at the Dell Ubuntu website for more details.

KDE 4 has been released. I’ve received couple of questions about installing KDE 4 under Ubuntu Linux 7.10. KDE 4 Packages are available for Ubuntu Linux version 7.10 (Gutsy) and from development Ubuntu Linux Hardy version. They install to /usr/lib/kde4 and can be installed alongside your existing KDE 3. However these packages are not compatible with KDE 4 beta packages. Following simple step will help you install KDE 4.

How do I install KDE 4 under Ubuntu Linux?

First you need to update Ubuntu package source file.

WARNING! These examples may crash your Desktop as KDE v4.0 packages are not 100% compatible with Ubuntu 7.10. Following instructions worked on my desktop but failed to work on Laptop. YMMV.

Step # 1: Update Source File

Open a terminal

Open /etc/apt/sources.list file using a text editor such as vi or gedit, enter:
$ sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list
OR
$ sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
Append following line:
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/kubuntu-members-kde4/ubuntu gutsy main
Close and save the file. Type the following command to update package list:
$ sudo apt-get update

GUI tool to update software source

Alternatively, you can use GUI tool by visiting System > Administration > Software Sources > Third Party Software > Add > Enter url ‘deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/kubuntu-members-kde4/ubuntu gutsy main‘ > Add Source > Update > Close

(Fig. 01: Update Software Source for KDE 4)

Step # 2: Install KDE 4 desktop

To install kde 4, enter:
$ sudo apt-get install kde4-core
You’ll get a warning when installing kde 4, just force to install the same without verification:

WARNING: The following packages cannot be authenticated!
Install these packages without verification [y/N]? y

Output:

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
  dbus-x11 dolphin-kde4 kappfinder-kde4 kde-icons-oxygen kde4libs-bin kdebase-bin-kde4 kdebase-data-kde4 kdebase-kde4 kdebase-runtime
  kdebase-runtime-bin-kde4 kdebase-runtime-data kdebase-runtime-data-common kdebase-workspace kdebase-workspace-bin kdebase-workspace-data
  kdelibs5 kdelibs5-data kdepasswd-kde4 kdepimlibs-data kdepimlibs5 kfind-kde4 klipper-kde4 konqueror-kde4 konqueror-nsplugins-kde4
  konsole-kde4 ksysguard-kde4 ksysguardd-kde4 kwin-kde4 kwrite-kde4 libcapseo0 libcaptury0 libclucene0 libexiv2-0 libgpgme11 libkonq5
  libkonq5-templates libphonon4 libplasma1 libpth20 libqimageblitz4 libraptor1 librasqal0 librdf0 libsoprano4 libstreamanalyzer0
  libstreams0 libstrigiqtdbusclient0 systemsettings-kde4
Suggested packages:
  kdebase kde-i18n sword-frontend gpgsm
Recommended packages:
  exiv2 raptor-utils redland-utils
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  dbus-x11 dolphin-kde4 kappfinder-kde4 kde-icons-oxygen kde4-core kde4libs-bin kdebase-bin-kde4 kdebase-data-kde4 kdebase-kde4
  kdebase-runtime kdebase-runtime-bin-kde4 kdebase-runtime-data kdebase-runtime-data-common kdebase-workspace kdebase-workspace-bin
  kdebase-workspace-data kdelibs5 kdelibs5-data kdepasswd-kde4 kdepimlibs-data kdepimlibs5 kfind-kde4 klipper-kde4 konqueror-kde4
  konqueror-nsplugins-kde4 konsole-kde4 ksysguard-kde4 ksysguardd-kde4 kwin-kde4 kwrite-kde4 libcapseo0 libcaptury0 libclucene0 libexiv2-0
  libgpgme11 libkonq5 libkonq5-templates libphonon4 libplasma1 libpth20 libqimageblitz4 libraptor1 librasqal0 librdf0 libsoprano4
  libstreamanalyzer0 libstreams0 libstrigiqtdbusclient0 systemsettings-kde4
0 upgraded, 49 newly installed, 0 to remove and 2 not upgraded.
Need to get 105MB of archives.
After unpacking 204MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y
WARNING: The following packages cannot be authenticated!
  libphonon4 libstreams0 libstreamanalyzer0 kdelibs5-data kde4libs-bin kdelibs5 libstrigiqtdbusclient0 libkonq5-templates libkonq5
  dolphin-kde4 kappfinder-kde4 kdebase-data-kde4 kdebase-bin-kde4 kdepasswd-kde4 kfind-kde4 konqueror-nsplugins-kde4 konqueror-kde4
  konsole-kde4 kwrite-kde4 kdebase-kde4 kdebase-workspace-data libplasma1 ksysguardd-kde4 ksysguard-kde4 kdebase-workspace-bin klipper-kde4
  kwin-kde4 systemsettings-kde4 kdebase-workspace kdepimlibs-data kdepimlibs5 kde4-core...
Install these packages without verification [y/N]? y
Get:1 http://ppa.launchpad.net gutsy/main libphonon4 4:4.0.0-0ubuntu2~gutsy1~ppa1 [164kB]
Get:2 http://archive.ubuntu.com gutsy-backports/universe kde-icons-oxygen 4:4.0.0-0ubuntu1~gutsy1 [45.4MB]
Get:3 http://in.archive.ubuntu.com gutsy/main dbus-x11 1.1.1-3ubuntu4 [34.8kB]
................
...
.........
Setting up systemsettings-kde4 (4:4.0.0-0ubuntu7~gutsy1~ppa1) ...

Setting up kdebase-workspace (4:4.0.0-0ubuntu7~gutsy1~ppa1) ...
Setting up kde4-core (3.3~gutsy1~ppa1) ...
Processing triggers for libc6 ...
ldconfig deferred processing now taking place

Note: It may take some time to install kde 4. You also need to disable compiz 3d desktop effect support.

References:

=> Kubuntu Project – Be Free with KDE 4.0

Generally, I recommend using gconf-editor ~ a tool used for editing the GConf configuration database (Gnome settings). You can always edit configuration files. Many new Linux users find it difficult to use both gconf-editor and text files.

To make your life easier and to save time try out new Ubuntu Tweak software. It is designed to configure Ubuntu easily using GUI tools. It provided many useful Ubuntu desktop and system tweaking options such as:
=> View Basic System Information
=> GNOME Session Control
=> Show/Hide and Change Splash screen
=> Show/Hide desktop icons or Mounted Volumes
=> Show/Hide/Rename Computer, Home, Trash icon or Network icon
=> Tweak Metacity Window Manager’s Style and Behavior
=> Compiz Fusion settings, Screen Edge Settings, Window Effects Settings, Menu Effect Settins
=> GNOME Panel Settings
=> Nautilus Settings
=> Advanced Power Management Settings
=> System Security Settings and much more

Quick Installation

$ cd /tmp; wget http://ubuntu-tweak.googlecode.com/files/ubuntu-tweak_0.2.4-ubuntu2_all.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.2.4-ubuntu2_all.deb
$ ubuntu-tweak &


(Fig. 01: Ubuntu Tweak in Action)

Bruce Byfield has published an interesting article on Linux.com:

For years, discerning Windows users have relied on Tweak UI, a semi-official Microsoft program for system settings not available on the default desktop. Now, in the same tradition and with something of the same name, Ubuntu Tweak (UT) offers the same advantage to Ubuntu users. Currently at version 0.2.4, for now UT is limited to features for GNOME and focuses mainly on changing default desktop and system behavior and how GNOME interacts with your hardware, but this small feature set is more than enough for proof of concept.

Download Ubuntu Tweak Software

=> Grab Ubuntu Tweak here (via Linux.com).

Powertop is Linux tool to find out what is using power on a laptop. This program only works on Intel based laptops. It is very good software to extend Laptop battery life time. I’ve tested this software with following Intel based laptops:
=> My Sony VAIO Laptop
=> My Dell 6400 Laptop
=> My office HP / Compaq Laptop

From the project page:

Computer programs can make your computer use more power. PowerTOP is a Linux tool that helps you find those programs that are misbehaving while your computer is idle.

PowerTOP combines various sources of information from the kernel into one convenient screen so that you can see how well your system is doing at saving power, and which components are the biggest problems.

PowerTOP has these four basic goals:

=> Show how well your system is using the various hardware power-saving features
=> Show you the culprit software components that are preventing optimal usage of your hardware power savings
=> Help Linux developers test their application and achieve optimal behavior
=> Provide you with tuning suggestions to achieve low power consumption

Quick PowerTOP installation

Type the following commands:
$ sudo apt-get install powertop
$ sudo powetop


(Fig. 01: PowerTop in Action [ Image Credit Intel Corp / Powertop Project] )

Download PowerTOP

=> Visit official project home page to grab PowerTOP software.