Archive for August 24th 2013

Our Eee PC netbook broke. We’ve had it for several years, upgraded with more RAM, and SSD and Linux replacing Windows. Lately it’s started repeating keys that weren’t pressed, making it very hard to use. We ordered a new keyboard, but have no idea whether it’s going to fix the problem; one web post I found claimed the keyboard chip fails after a few years on that model, so we’ll see if that’s the case.

We have two problems if that’s not. Firstly, Asus has apparently said it’s stopping making netbooks after the current generation. Secondly, the current generation of Atom CPUs has an integrated graphics chip for which Intel won’t release open source drivers. So they can’t run Linux.

The future is apparently Chromebooks. Let’s see, a cheap, low-end x86 running a Linux derivative from a small SSD, intended to work primarily with web apps and remote storage.

Hey, that’s what we used to call a netbook, before Microsoft got scared and started giving copies of Windows to netbook manufacturers to convince them to move off of Linux. That’s when they became bloated and swapped SSDs for hard drives that helped make them uncompetitive with faster laptops.

Anyway, that’s an aside. Since we may have to replace the netbook if the keyboard doesn’t fix it, I’ve been looking at what’s available right now.

There are a number of small laptops in a similar price range: the Acer V5, for example. Unfortunately they’re larger, have more power-hungry CPUs and larger but worse keyboards.

But, worst of all, they run Windows 8.

Not that it matters to me, because I’d be sticking in an SSD and installing Linux. But that did mean I actually got a chance to try the Microsoft abomination for myself.

It’s actually worse than I imagined. I hadn’t realised just how much the lack of a Start menu crippled the operating system. All I wanted to do was run notepad so I could type some text and see how well the keyboard worked.

So, how do you run notepad from the desktop? Uh, yeah, there’s no start menu. Um?

Fortunately I knew the Windows key would go to the stupid Metro screen. But then, where’s notepad? There are weather apps and all kinds of other crap that I have no interest in, but notepad? Nowhere to be seen.

Fortunately I knew I could press Windows+R and type ‘notepad’ to start it. But WTF? What kind of windowing system expects people to enter arcane keyboard commands just to start a simple text editor? Who ever thought that was a good idea? Who signed off on this crap?