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How to Choose the Right Linux Netbook?

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 7/4/2011

I wanted a small laptop for traveling, and I wanted it to be inexpensive. I wanted to make sure that if I broke it, dropped it, or left it somewhere, I wouldn’t take the financial hit I would if I’d lost my $1,000 laptop. This led me to one conclusion, the Linux Netbook.

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    In the beginning…

    On my last trip to Las Vegas to attend CES (that’s the Consumer Electronics Show), I lugged my huge laptop along with me. As usual, I plugged it in at the hotel, connected to their free Wi-Fi, and used it to stay on top of my e-mail and my work. Although I really would have enjoyed having it with me while I visited the miles and miles of exhibits at the show, it was simply too big and too heavy to bring along. I vowed to find something a bit less bulky for the 2009 show and recently began looking at smaller laptops called netbooks.

    My first stop was Acer’s website. I have an Acer laptop, and although the keyboard drives me batty, the computer itself is really nice and has a ton of features. That’s where I ran across my first netbook. It was an Aspire One, and its screen was 8.9 inches and around 2 pounds. It seemed perfect, was under $350, and I had the choice of Linux or XP Home Edition. I went to MicroCenter to have a look.

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    Learning about Linux

    On the way to the store, I mulled over the possibility of owning a Linux machine. It was cheap, small, and had built-in Wi-Fi, USB ports, 512 MB of RAM, and it was under $330. When I got to the store though, I found I was in for a rude surprise. It sported an 8 GB hard drive.

    Talking with the salesperson, I learned that this “hard drive” was actually more like a “flash drive”. It didn’t spin. Also, Linux hardly takes up any space, so you have oh, 6-7 GB free. Being a Windows-type-of-gal, I just couldn’t stomach it though, especially since there was a netbook just like it running XP Home Edition with a 160 GB hard drive for $20 more. Why would I buy the Linux model?

    I looked at other netbooks. I noticed that the Linux models all had different interfaces. One had a screen that had tabs, one had a screen you scrolled through, and one looked a bit more like Windows 3.1 than anything else. I was so confused. Again, the salesperson cleared this up. He said there are lots and lots of “versions” of Linux, and he told me that Ubuntu was one of the more common ones, and well-liked. He said I’d have to choose a version, choose a machine, and try to avoid Linux versions that were proprietary.

How I chose my new Linux netbook

Choosing a netbook for traveling was an easy decision. Deciding on one running Linux was more of a challenge.
  1. How to Choose the Right Linux Netbook?
  2. How to Choose the Right Linux Netbook? Researching
  3. How to Choose the Right Linux Netbook? Purchase Decision