A Great Netbook Operating System

Last week I stopped in to our neighborhood computer repair shop. I was just curious to see what used stuff he might have for sale; you never know what you might find. When I told the owner of the shop I was looking for old laptops or desktop machines to play around with Linux on, he said he didn’t have much for sale at the moment; but he did have a little netbook I might be interested in.

It was an HP Mini 1000 that’s about a couple of years old, with an Intel Atom 1.6 GHz. processor and a 8Gb. SDHC flash drive instead of a conventional hard drive, and a webcam! I liked the idea of trying out a computer with an SD card for a hard drive because it should be faster than an electro-mechanical drive; there are and no moving parts and they consume less power and produce less heat than hard disk drives. And, this netbook was running Ubuntu 11.10! The shop owner had installed Ubuntu on it to play around with, but he knows I’m into Linux and he said he’d sell it to me for a hundred dollars. This netbook looks brand new, has a nice sized keyboard and at least I knew that Ubuntu worked well on it, wireless and all. And I had been thinking I would really like another laptop/netbook (since I’d brought my experimental desktop computer downstairs for the kids to use) that I could use upstairs for writing and web browsing in peace and quiet. I couldn’t refuse!

Once I got my netbook home I played around for a while with Ubuntu 11.10. But I still don’t care that much for Unity. I know the upcoming 12.04 version of Ubuntu has improvements to Unity that make it more configurable; but it ran somewhat sluggishly on the HP Mini. I soon started searching the internet for a more suitable replacement OS that would run better on this little machine. To make a long story short; the majority of Linux netbook distro reviews recommended JoliOS as their favorite. I’d heard of JoliCloud, the web storage/cloud computing site, and that they had created a Ubuntu-based cloud OS that can be installed on a hard drive called JoliOS; but I wasn’t all that familiar with it. And this whole ‘cloud computing‘ business still makes me a little uneasy, though it’s often touted as the wave of the future.

After downloading an ISO image of JoliOS I used Unetbootin to create a bootable USB stick of the operating system and tried it out on my netbook. It ran pretty nice; faster than Ubuntu with Unity. JoliOS actually uses Ubuntu with Gnome 2.3 as the base system. It’s a hybrid between a computer-based and cloud-based OS which was a little weird for me at first; but I soon got used to the differences and how to navigate between the two. It really is quite easy to install and use. Below is a screen shot of the standard Application view of JoliOS on my HP Mini (with a wallpaper background I added).

 

Installing software is a breeze using the JoliCloud App Center (green button on top left) or you can also use Synaptic package manager (which I like) as you would in Ubuntu. JoliOS has Dropbox integration built in, but I decided to install nautilus-dropbox to the SD drive. The JoliCloud applications are fairly limited but you can install any Linux software you want with Synaptic.

 

Another nice feature that I learned through watching a video I’ll post below is that you can access the Gnome 2 dropdown menu by simply pressing the ‘Menu’ key (the one on the keyboard on the right side next to ‘Ctrl’ that looks like a tiny menu with an arrow cursor) to go to applications, places, system, shutdown, etc. as shown in image 4.

All in all, I’ve become very fond of using JoliOS the more I use it. Also, before installing it I replaced the 8 Gb. SDHC card with a 16 Gb. one for about $15. Since I’m not going to be storing any large files like music or video on this computer, and there are numerous cloud storage options (or just using an external HD) I won’t be needing more than the 10 GB storage space I have remaining. I love this little netbook!

I’ve discovered an excellent video by MrGizmo757 that shows off the features of JoliOS that you might like to check out: What is the Best Netbook Operating System?

JoliOS 1.2 Review