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Author Topic: Cloudbook Buy/Don't Buy?  (Read 4921 times)
Will
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Posts: 175


« on: June 16, 2008, 12:00:09 pm »

I travel a fair bit, I have a desktop I can stow stuff in. I don't plan on doing a whole lot of intensive stuff on a laptop (short of perhaps a few retro-games).

EEE Pc, Cloudbook, or other?

Also, for any that actually HAVE a cloudbook, would I be better served with windows, gOS, Ubuntu, or Vector?
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Triarius Fidelis
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Vectorian
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 01:03:40 pm »

steal it
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dawnsboy
Vectorite
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Posts: 135



« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2008, 06:29:08 pm »

I do not own a Cloudbook.  I have however done quite a bit of research on the Cloudbook and decided not to purchase one.  There are some distinct pros and cons taken from online articles and user product reviews. 

PRO:

30GB HDD (lots of space)
1.2 GHz VIA C-7 processor (vs eeepc underclocked pIII 571 and 630MHz)
DDR2 533MHz FSB
Small, lightweight
Good battery life
Cool running
Durable
Good wireless connectivity indoors (40 feet)

CON:

gOS is reported to be resource hungry
Wireless is not very good in gOS
Slow speed hdd (4200 RPM)
Everex support provides poor customer service
Difficult to upgrade RAM (upgrading RAM also voids warranty)
Everex admits that units sold via walmart.com do not have software pre-installed and did not include the recovery cd to permit installation of software.  They are attempting to recover from this but have been suggesting that users download and burn the software themselves.
Some users report wireless connectivity problems in outdoor locations

Everex has included XP drivers for download on their website (even though installing XP voids the warranty).  It seems that people are happy with the machine but not the OS and are dumping it in favor of XP or another Linux OS.  Users on Cloudbook forums are having mixed success with alternate Linux OS solutions but have installed Ubuntu, Debian and Puppy Linux (all require work arounds).

Here is a quote from an article at O'Reilly.com:
Quote
Some of Asus competitors have fared poorly. The Everex CloudBook has been dropped by WalMart stores and relegated to their website where Linux PCs have been available for a few years now. The Everex product, despite superior specs, doesn’t perform as well as the EeePC and didn’t get the gee whiz reaction that the Asus product got.

Although I think it worth noting that there are users out there that just love gOS on the Cloudbook.

Vector Linux will install on the EEEPC but for some reason wireless networking just does not work (among other things).  I have searched extensively for a solution.  The only alternative to a clean VL install is a highly modified Slackware 12 install available through forum.eeeuser.com.

I do own an EEEPC 701 and absolutely love it.  I found the default Xandros desktop os to be highly configurable.  I did away with the unionfs partitioning, the easy desktop, kde and some other non-essentials.  I use ICEWM with ROX-Filer (although PCManFM is very good with this os).  It is very fast when operating in this configuration.  My only wish would be to install VL but I have not been successful in making it fully operational on the EEEPC.   Angry

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BlueMage
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Posts: 274



« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2008, 01:15:55 pm »

I also have a 701 EeePC and yep, love it.  Good luck finding one now though - they've been superseded by a new one with an 8.9" screen and cost around an extra $150 (for example, Myers here FINALLY put them down to 399AUD, but they're not getting any more 701s, only the new ones, which are 549AUD, which really seems to me that Asus are pricing themselves out of the market.  Even moreso given these new ones come sporting XP Home, which, when I checked, seemed to chug a tad)
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Acer Laptop:  Vector 5.8 SOHO Final & Windows XP Professional & USB (still alive!)
Compaq POS (almost dead): Vector 5.9 Light Beta 5
Quad-core BEAST: Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit & Vector 5.9 64-bit beta-2
Old 500MHz media box:  Vector 5.8 SOHO Final (dead)
701 EeePC:  Puppeee (based on Puppy 4.01)
dawnsboy
Vectorite
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Posts: 135



« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2008, 07:39:27 pm »

They do seem to be disappearing don't they.  Got lucky and found a 2G surf at $249.00 to give to my son.  I do not think that they will be around much longer.  The upgraded 701 with XP Home pre-installed at $399.00 is still available from bestbuy.com and newegg.com.  I wonder how much longer though.
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Lyn
Vectorian
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Posts: 650



« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2008, 12:45:43 pm »

Anyone looked at elonex's offering?

http://www.elonexone.co.uk
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Will
Vectorite
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Posts: 175


« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2008, 04:32:31 am »

Right now eyeballing the cloudbook's big brother, the gbook. I'm impressed with what its managed to cram in for its price point. HOWEVER, what scares me is the VIA UniChrome9 graphics chipset. I know there's openchrome, but I've heard there's problems with getting things like acceleration, or dvd playback (the latter being more importaint, but I'd like the former as well) to run.


Anyone got experiance there, or should i just go with a more expensive item? Upper budget's, if I streatch it, $600.
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exeterdad
Packager
Vectorian
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Posts: 2046



« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2008, 05:35:43 am »

I've only had one openchrome experiance, and lost the battle.  My thoughts are that VIA isn't doing a very good job at supporting Linux.  I would be scared to purchase a new computer with a VIA graphics chipset.  But...  keep in mind, others, with different VIA chipsets have succeeded.  Unfortunately the most important information about the chipset isn't on the box when you are researching to buy.  And even worse.  As in my case when installing VL on my mother inlaws laptop....  The chipset ID was completely incorrect.  Meaning VIA has two completely different video chipsets, with the same ID. Nice.  Roll Eyes
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Will
Vectorite
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Posts: 175


« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2008, 05:45:47 am »

 Huh

That's......messed up.
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BlueMage
Vectorite
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Posts: 274



« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2008, 03:10:19 pm »

I'd just like to add one more thing, now that I see "retro-games" in the first post.

The Eee can handle ZSNES and the latest version of VBA without any slowdown.  Amazingly, FCEUltra runs slower than ZSNES.  So if that's what you mean by retro games, the Eee will be a fine choice.  I have yet to test SMS or Mega Drive emulators out.
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Acer Laptop:  Vector 5.8 SOHO Final & Windows XP Professional & USB (still alive!)
Compaq POS (almost dead): Vector 5.9 Light Beta 5
Quad-core BEAST: Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit & Vector 5.9 64-bit beta-2
Old 500MHz media box:  Vector 5.8 SOHO Final (dead)
701 EeePC:  Puppeee (based on Puppy 4.01)
caitlyn
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Posts: 2876


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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2008, 07:51:57 pm »

I've only had one openchrome experiance, and lost the battle.  My thoughts are that VIA isn't doing a very good job at supporting Linux.  I would be scared to purchase a new computer with a VIA graphics chipset.  But...  keep in mind, others, with different VIA chipsets have succeeded.  Unfortunately the most important information about the chipset isn't on the box when you are researching to buy.  And even worse.  As in my case when installing VL on my mother inlaws laptop....  The chipset ID was completely incorrect.  Meaning VIA has two completely different video chipsets, with the same ID. Nice.  Roll Eyes

VIA is about to start importing their line of mini-notebooks which compete with the EeePC to the U.S.  Their models offer a choice of Windows or Linux so I think their support for Linux will improve.  Better yet, they've Open Sourced the blueprints for the hardware so community support shouldn't be a problem.
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eMachines EL-1300G desktop, 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 2650e CPU, 4GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6150 SE video
CentOS 6.5 (will try VL64-7.1 soon)

Toshiba Satellite A135-S4727,  Intel Pentium T2080 / 1.73 GHz, 2GB RAM, Intel GMA 950

HP Mini 110 netbook, 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, Intel 950 video, VL 7.1
dawnsboy
Vectorite
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Posts: 135



« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2008, 06:42:46 am »

Quote
VIA is about to start importing their line of mini-notebooks which compete with the EeePC to the U.S.

The Via OpenBook will not be available to consumers directly from Via.  The OpenBook is a reference design to demonstrate to manufacturers what can be done with a mini-notebook and as such it is a concept that will appear in other manufacturers products.  It sports the VX800 chipset that combines both Northbridge and Southbridge technology.  Video will be driven by the VIA Chrome 9 display adapter and the Chromotion CE display engine.  Representatives of Via dropped by to see the folks at Tom's Hardware and show off the concept model.  A similar article may be found on CNET.

The Everex Cloudbook (based on a Packard Bell CE 260) and Gbook VA1500V (essentially an Everex 1500 series Stepnote) feature the VIA Chrome 9 display adapter and come with Linux pre-installed.  Both systems feature gOS based on Ubuntu.  The first two versions of gOS are based on Gutsy Gibbon and version 3.0 is based on Hardy Heron according to Wikipedia.  A search of the internet reveals that buyers have attempted with limited success at best in replacing the gOS with anything other than Ubuntu.  A writer at Tom's Review claims that the Via hardware is not fully suppported by Ubuntu or the gOS it comes pre-installed with.

The default Xandros OS that comes with the Linux based version of the ASUS Eeepc only recently received a software update from the manufacturer that makes the proprietary Atheros wireless chipset compatible with WPA/WPA2 passphrase wireless technology.  Prior to this update WEP was the only option other than no security at all. 

It seems to me that manufacturers have pushed Linux systems out the door without much consideration to providing hardware that can be optimally utilized by the OS of choice (or any other Linux OS for that matter).  It is one thing to attempt installation of an OS such as VL, Slackware, etc on an existing system and encounter hardware issues.  It is quite another issue altogether when manufacturers release new products with pre-installed operating systems that are not fully functional or are not equipped to properly utilize on-board hardware.  The OpenBook concept has the same potential for mediocrity in operating system performance that all the previous mini-notebooks have had to one degree or another.  I will be delighted if manufacturers that choose to utilize the concept embodied in this reference design prove me wrong.  Please observe though that the system that VIA brought to Tom's Hardware appears to feature Windows Vista.

I continue to use the Eeepc 701 4G with a modified version of the default Xandros OS.  It has provided excellent service and with the latest wireless software update I am able to access my Netgear wireless router.  I use Opera 9.5 final, flashplayer 9 and the Mplayer plug-in for surfing the 'net.  After clean install, I removed the unionfs file system, deleted the user partition on sda2, resized the "shadow" partition sda1 and converted it from the default ext2 filesystem to the ext3 filesystem.  I removed Open Office and other pre-installed software that I will not use to free up space on the solid state drive.  I find that this 4GB drive is now quite roomy.  To improve performance I fully enabled Icewm and combined it with PCManFM to provide a virtual desktop.  Google docs offers more than enough wordprocessing ability to meet my needs.  I was gratified to see it open a Microsoft Word resume template without any issues of note.  Perhaps when that new kernel Caitlyn speaks of in another post on this forum is developed I will be able to convert this little jewel to a Vector Linux box.  Wouldn't that be great!  Grin
« Last Edit: June 26, 2008, 06:45:32 pm by dawnsboy » Logged

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caitlyn
Packager
Vectorian
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Posts: 2876


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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2008, 11:18:10 am »

@dawnsboy:  Your description of OpenBook is correct.  Having said that Via did recently display Via branded mini notebooks at a computer show in Taiwan (see Distrowatch article two weeks ago Monday) and when I have time I will dig up the report that at least one such model will be in the U.S.

Moving from ext2 to ext3 on was a really bad idea, BTW.  MTDs used in lieu of hard drives have a limited lifespan.  The more I/O (specifically writes) the sooner they die.  I'm not sure anyone knows precisely what the limits are at this point.  This is why non-journaling filesystems are generally used and the noatime option is specified in /etc/fstab.  Note that there are jorunaling flash file systems, the best known being JFFS2 which is currently developed by Red Hat.  They are generally only used in embedded devices so far and I haven't seen a Linux distro that supports installing to a journaling flash file system.
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eMachines EL-1300G desktop, 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 2650e CPU, 4GB RAM, nVidia GeForce 6150 SE video
CentOS 6.5 (will try VL64-7.1 soon)

Toshiba Satellite A135-S4727,  Intel Pentium T2080 / 1.73 GHz, 2GB RAM, Intel GMA 950

HP Mini 110 netbook, 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, Intel 950 video, VL 7.1
dawnsboy
Vectorite
***
Posts: 135



« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2008, 12:49:26 pm »

Quote
Having said that Via did recently display Via branded mini notebooks at a computer show in Taiwan (see Distrowatch article two weeks ago Monday) and when I have time I will dig up the report that at least one such model will be in the U.S.

I would be interested in seeing that article.  The article at Tom's Hardware featured such a box built so that Via could demonstrate the reference design in action rather than trying to demo it as a concept.  So the Openbook does exist but the article at Tom's Hardware which features photographs of the Via mini-notebook does specifically state that it will not be available for sale from Via.  The model on display at the computer show in Taiwan could very well have been for the same purpose as the one on display at Tom's Hardware.  I do think that if a mini-notebook came to market that featured Linux friendly hardware it would outsell many of the other systems that feature Linux but do not optimize hardware and driver configurations for the best possible performance (eg Cloudbook, gOS and to a lesser extent Eeepc).  I suspect based on what we are seeing with these articles that the mini-notebook will be no closer to the mark than systems already on the market. However, if Via does accomplish the desired task I will give the strongest consideration to purchasing it for family members in the near future.

Quote
Moving from ext2 to ext3 on was a really bad idea, BTW.  MTDs used in lieu of hard drives have a limited lifespan.

Solid State Drive (SSD) “Write Endurance” Concerns Greatly Exaggerated is an article that suggests that with a write speed of 1.1 MB/s to 3 MB/s maximum the Asus Eeepc SSD should fail in approximately 84.5 years.  The wiki at eeeuser.com has more conservative estimate of SSD failure at 25 years based on worst case scenario assumptions for wear.  According to Storage Search.com the average SSD has a lifespan between one and two million write cycles.  The 25 year lifespan prediction on the wiki at eeeuser.com assumes worst case scenario conditions for wear causing failure at no less than one hundred to two hundred thousand write cycles.

The following quote by a member of the marketing department at Samsung is linked to the article it was taken from:
A flash device that is rated at 100,000 write cycles, for example, can write 100,000 times “to every single (memory) cell within the device,” (Michael Yang, flash marketing manager at Samsung) said. In other words, the device doesn’t write to the same cell over and over again but spreads out the writes over many different cells. This is achieved through “wear leveling,” which is carried out by the SSD’s controller, he said. This would make it virtually impossible to wear out a flash chip.  The original article that this quote is referenced from may found at CNET NEWS.

These few articles are a small sampling of the number of articles and documents supporting the notion that SSD lifespans are actually longer than traditional hard drives.  Asus uses EXT3 on the sda2 user accesible partition of the drive by default.  Asus also supports the statements made regarding long SSD lifespans.  I am confident that I have made a good decision regarding the use of EXT3 on my Eeepc but I do appreciate the note of caution.





« Last Edit: June 26, 2008, 06:49:35 pm by dawnsboy » Logged

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Will
Vectorite
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Posts: 175


« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2008, 02:34:51 pm »

Well that tears it. I'm definately getting a SSD on whatever machine (portable or not) whenever funds become avalible. The question I now have is are the openchrome drivers automaticly included in vector/in the gslapt repository?
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