Last night, I read about the new netbook OS, open source but funded by Intel, called Moblin. It’s been designed and implemented especially for Intel Atom-based netbooks, such as the Dell Mini 9 (Inspiron 910), and so I decided to give it a try.
So, I followed the excellent instructions on the website, downloaded the disk image, set myself up with a bootable USB drive containing said image, and booted the Mini.
The OS’ UI is very intuitive and, dare I say it, cute for a netbook. It makes excellent use of the limited screen estate hiding the top toolbar when not in use. Icons are simple, well-designed and large. Easy to click, from Fitt’s Law. The applications look good and run well too, hiding the arcana of Linux running underneath.
Unfortunately, the network access leaves a lot to be desired. The wi-fi just doesn’t work with the Mini 9, period, and other netbooks seem to have the same issues. The wired connection is only recognized if the cable is plugged in when you boot, and at that the built-in browser doesn’t find any URLs. That’s a real shame because without internet access all of the “mobile” apps, like the browser, twitter, etc, just don’t work in any meaningful way. Flash is not provided, so you must download it, which I couldn’t of course.
So, regretfully, I powered off the Mini and rebooted back into Windows 7, which, I must report, just works on the Mini. No weirdnesses, everything just worked. Intel have a little way to go methinks, but I’ll try it again in a few weeks.
(Interesting aside: I’m writing this blog post in Windows Live Writer on my Mini. Apart from the cramped keyboard, no issues.)