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Moblin 2.0 - A New Way to Make a Netbook Sing With Linux

Installation and Test-Drive

  • June 4, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

As the Netbook market becomes thoroughly saturated with models from all the major PC vendors, the opportunity exists to explore new options for the operating system. Asus was first to market in late 2007 with their Eee PC and has since turned out more variations on that theme than you can shake a stick at. The original Eee PC boasted a Linux OS as one of its ways of keeping cost down, but later models have added Windows to the mix.

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The Moblin project started out in life as an operating system targeted at the Mobile Internet Device (MID) platform but has morphed into a prime candidate for the Netbook world. With the release of the Moblin v2 beta in late May came the push specifically targeted at Netbooks designed around the Intel Atom processor family. A transition of project stewardship from Intel to the Linux Foundation also took place between the releases of Moblin v1 and v2.

The list of platforms that have been tested and found to successfully boot the Moblin v2 beta image are:

  • Acer Aspire One (ZG5)
  • Asus EeePC 901, 1000, 1000H
  • Dell Inspiron 910
  • MSI Wind
  • Lenovo S10
  • Samsung NC10
  • )HP mini 1010 and 1120NR (wired networking only)
  • We tested this release on a Lenovo S10e and were able to get it to boot without any problem. The basic release did not support wireless networking on this model, but we were able to get it partially working by following the instructions for the Dell Mini 9 found here.

    Installation

    Getting the beta installed is pretty simple. The Moblin site has a link to download the latest image and instructions on how to burn the image to a USB stick for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. Once that's done you must configure your Netbook to boot from USB. For the Lenovo S10e you have to press the Fn and F11 keys to see an alternate boot menu. Then all you have to do is select the USB key.

    When the boot screen appears you're presented with a list of options including boot, boot and install, verify and boot, network installation and boot from local drive. The boot option will allow you to give Moblin a spin without installing it to your disk. To shut down you have to press the power button.

    Navigation

    The basic Moblin installation uses a toolbar at the top of the screen to present different options. Default selections include m_zone, status, people, internet, media, pasteboard, applications and zones. There are also toolbar items for power and brightness, volume and networks. Current time and date are displayed on the left-hand side of the toolbar.

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    Several of the toolbar items present you with a way to quickly accomplish a task like set your Twitter status. The people item displays all your online contacts from your instant messenger accounts. Each toolbar item uses a similar approach to presentation with a text box to either enter information or search for something. Clicking on the internet toolbar icon brings up a single textbox prompting you for a URL. When you click on the media icon you'll see a list of existing media and a search box to quickly find a specific media file.

    Moblin uses a concept called the m_zone (aka the myzone) as the launch / landing page to help you navigate to where you need to be. The m_zone page is broken up into three areas for recent activities, recent files and websites, and recent social network updates. Moblin 2.0 directly supports Twitter and Last.fm as the primary social network sites in this release.

     

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