Ubuntu on Netbook with SSD (AND TRIM!)
Throughout the years I have tested various Linux distros to see wether I should make a permanent transition or wait for more maturing (less problems for end-user, ie. me). Up until now I have always found one problem or other, preventing me from making the leap... Lack of hardware support, disappointing performance or lack of user friendliness has been the most common culprits.
Recently I had a hardware failure on the SSD that was installed in my Asus EEE (1000 HE). The previous OS was Win 7 Starter Ed. The SSD was promptly replaced with a new one as the first one was under gurantee, no problems there.
I was not happy with the Win7 Starter Ed. on this Netbook (I'm typing on it right now!), since it didn't allow me to watch even the smallest (in terms of resolution) video-files without jerky playback. On this particular Netbook I use video-playback as a test to compare, as the Win 7 on an SSD ALMOST had it. I did some research and didn't have much hopes ever to get smooth playback (even in action-sequences) using this early version of Netbook (think it is 2nd version of 1st generation Asus EEE Netbook). Intel Atom CPU.
Anyway, I thought of finding a Netbook-adapted version of some Linux-distro, and then found one made by Ubuntu. Couldn't find one with the latest "Natty Narwhal" build, but started off with the 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) version to test.
Used a USB-tool to create bootable install USB-memory pen from the ubuntu-distro, which went without problems. Then, after installation, the Ubuntu started updating itself, and I let it do so twice, and by then it was updated to the latest version; 11.04 (yes, the "Natty Narwahl").
Everything was smooth sailing. Found all software I wanted, installed it, and I eventually came around to testing the video-capability. To my great surprise, the video playback was not jerking! Even DVD-images can be mounted and viewed, to top off my pleasant surprise.
There is barely a hint of distortion in the DVD-playback sometimes, a distorted stripe appears sometimes, but it's not enough to irritate me.
Linux software used:
VLC (video-file and DVD playback with subtitle support), Furious (image mount).
High resolution MKV-files still get jerky, but the actual hardware can only perform to a limit, and I can't expect this little machine to manage something that is actually impossible... The CPU and GPU are simply too lightweight for such a processor-intensive task as displaying a high resolution video-file. It simply wasn't built for that kind of use...
TRIM for SSD is not enabled automatically in Ubuntu, even though it is supported. There is a way to test if it is supported, and to turn it on if you wish to use a SSD-drive like I have done. SSD-drives will become slower and slower with time, if TRIM is not enabled. Without TRIM, the SSD is a waste of money and time spent installing the new OS.
Test & Enable TRIM in Linux:
Enable TRIM (after doing the test-routine, this was easy. Do the test again after, to confirm correct enabling.)
Virtually everything about Ubuntu and SSD (as long as TRIM-support is on) is really speeding things up.
Only issue I still have, is wether or not I will be able to print from this by way of my network to the network-connected Canon MP970-printer. Canon does not officially support Linux on all their products (yet). This particular issue/problem regarding MP970 still being investigated! (ref. SANE-project)
I will keep this constallation/installation! (ohh, I have to find a way to safeguard it by way of backup ASAP, note to self 🙂 )
I am finally really, really happy with my somewhat CPU-weak, but extremely battery-efficient, small and highly portable Asus EEE (1000HE). It now does everything I dreamed it would do, and more (the TRIM-functionality being the final nail in the coffin for Win7-precense on this particular machine).