At the begining of the week I received a Dell Mini 10v I had ordered a few of weeks ago. I had chosen to upgrade some of the default components: my Mini 10v comes with 2Gb of RAM and a 16 GB SSD drive. And of course Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 LTS is installed by default at the factory. Now that the Beta of Karmic has been released I decided to take the opportunity to download the Ubuntu Netbook Remix iso and boot from a usb stick to see how this variant of Ubuntu looked like.
Load Ubuntu Netbook Remix on a USB key
But first things first. In order to be able to boot the UNR Beta iso, I had to put it on a usb stick. The USB Startup Disk Creator application located under System -> Administration proved to be best option:
- Download the UNR Beta iso image.
- Connect your usb key to the computer. I was actually using a 1GB SD card from my camera with an USB adapter.
- Open USB Startup Disk Creator.
- Select the UNR beta iso image and the usb drive (which may need to be formatted).
- And make the startup disk.
The boot experience
I plugged the usb stick in one of the Mini 10v usb port, powered on my netbook and hit F12 early in the boot sequence to bring the boot menu. And there - as the second choice - was my USB stick.
Loading the whole system took some time in which I had the time to admire the new boot experience - well I wasn't that surprised as my main laptop had been running Karmic for a while now. But still it looked slick as the new black and white theme matched very well with my Mini 10v colours - black for most of the parts with a light grey stripe below the keyboard.
After being auto-logged in I was greeted with the new launcher and started to poke around. Turns out that tapping on the touch pad doesn't work. I had to use the buttons at the bottom to actually click (which is a bit annoying since the pad is sensitive around the click area - it can lead to some mouse movement while trying to click).
No wireless available
Restricted driver popped up to tell me that I could install some non-free drivers. I had two choices all related to the wireless card:
- The B43xxx wireless driver. I tried to activate it: packages seemed to get installed - however the driver was still disabled after that.
- The STA wireless driver. Tried to activate it as well. This time the driver seemed to have correctly installed. However a reboot of the system was required - which is a bit annoying when you run from a live USB key.
Selecting each driver popped a prompt for entering a password in order to be able to install packages. Turns out the password is empty and just pressing the Enter key make things go away. I wonder if this dialogue could be completely deactivated during a live session - that would improve the experience of complete new user.
So no wireless available on my Mini 10v running from the live USB key. Time to plug a wired network cable. And a few seconds later I was connected to the Internet.
Application Names ...
In the Favorites sub menu - which is the first thing you see when your session starts - there are a couple of applications: Mozilla Web Browser, Evolution Mail and Calendar, Cheese, Empathy, Help, Ubuntu One and Install Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10. All of these choices have recognizable names except for Cheese and Empathy. Of course I know about these being a long time Ubuntu user - however it may be more difficult for a first time user. Even though there is a small webcam as part of the Cheese icon and the Empathy icon kind of relates to communication having a descriptive name would probably be helpful.
... and Ubuntu One ...
As for the Ubuntu One option, it doesn't give a clue of what this is about. So my curious nature lead me to start the application (well... I knew what Ubuntu One was as I had been an early beta-tester). The Ubuntu One icon appeared in the top menu bar. I could go the web and log into my account by right-clicking on the icon. However I didn't find an obvious way to associate my local instance with my remote account.
... and sound
Further poking around lead me to the Sound and Video sub menu where I tried to record a sound. First attempt failed. Opening the Volume Control from the File Menu and going to the Input tab showed me that the input was actually muted. Unmute it and voila - a few moments later I could hear my voice being played back!
So all in all I was pleasantly surprised by the beta version of UNR. A few glitches here and there (to be reported in LP of course) but overall the experience was positive!
Actually install the system on the local SSD drive and experience the fast boot of Ubuntu on my Mini 10v. With an SSD drive I expect it to be below (9.)10 seconds.