When Asus launched the Eee PC in 2007, we recognized that netbooks had the potential to be a major game-changer for mobile computing. Two years and several iterations later, the evolving netbook form factor is better and more compelling than ever before. Hardware vendors have found ways to deliver longer battery life, bigger displays, and more usable keyboards without compromising the mobility advantages of the little laptops.
Mobile Linux platforms have also improved to become more consumer-friendly, resource-efficient, and usable on small displays. One of the most ambitious efforts to improve the suitability of Linux for netbook devices is Intel's Moblin project, which promises to bring significant performance, usability, and aesthetic improvements to the open-source operating system. Although Moblin is still a work in progress, Dell is already offering it preinstalled for the benefit of software developers and Linux enthusiasts who want an early look at the platform.
Dell enlisted Canonical to build a special version of Ubuntu that incorporates Moblin's unique customizations. This hybrid distribution, called the Ubuntu Moblin Remix, offers Ubuntu's familiar underpinnings and enormous package repository alongside key performance and user interface enhancements that were developed by Intel in collaboration with the Moblin community.
Dell warns that the software is still highly experimental and incomplete, indicating that it's not yet ready for average consumers. We obtained a Dell Mini 10v with the Ubuntu Moblin Remix so that we could conduct a taste test and see for ourselves. This review will primarily focus on the Moblin applications and user experience. For an overview of the Moblin shell, you can refer to our hands-on tour of the user interface....
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