Netbooks :: All That You Need


This is one of those simple allowance lessons that our parents taught us (what you want versus what you need) but also in reality much more useful than that because very few of us realize just how little computing power we actually need. This topic is inspired by a reddit post Am I the only one that is sick of seeing some company\’s new \”cheap linux notebook\”. I don\’t use Linux because it\’s cheap, I use it because it\’s powerful and I want a powerful notebook to go with it. regarding Linux referred to as a cheap solution when compared to Windows when in actuality, most of the same tasks are accomplished.

In fairness, Microsoft is pointing out that an operating system (design of the system) does not matter nearly as much as the cost and physical features of a laptop, which is my Microsoft laptop of choice is a netbook, because I have a realistic evaluation of my computing needs. See the Microsoft laptop commercial here. Microsoft Laptop Commercial on Youtube

So this should have you all thinking by now, what exactly do I use my computer for? Granted there are exceptions for those people who game, encode video all day with intense effects (and intense image editing), but for the most part, I think that most people use the following when using a computer:

  • Browse the internet
  • Email
  • IM/Chat (optional Video)
  • Office (Documents, Spreadsheets, Accounting)
  • Some audio / video to watch/hear news and entertainment

Now, I have news for you, older computers, computers more than 5 years old, should be able to do any of the things that I listed and I can prove it. My p3 732mhz (sometimes I speed it up to 1.13ghz or allow ondemand) can do all of those activities with hardly a hiccup… the most caused by Adobe\’s Flash that manages to use up all of the processing power it can get on my laptop and my desktop.

Here are the things that I want in a laptop… and those that I love most about my rugged IBM T23

  • Long battery life (I get 2 hours out of a 6 year old computer)
  • Easy to work on in the dark (I have an LED that lights the keyboard)
  • Lightweight
  • Ability to run Web/Email/IM/(Apache and MySQL for Dev Work)/audio/video
  • A Pointer style mouse (touch pads annoy the daylights out of me)

See, not too complex, and it does everything, with only a little bit of processor/video lag when multi-tasking!


To beat my chest with GNU/Linux, I run Ubuntu on my machine with 512mb of ram. Ubuntu\’s repositories allow me to install and have programs running much more quickly and with fewer problems than other college of computing students and so I could often run things more quickly or more accurately that somebody with more than 4x the processing power and ram.  The other reason this is possible is because I enjoy the fun of compiling things like ffmpeg and my linux kernel, which, by the way, boots in as little as 32 seconds.

I think that having a more energy efficient processor like a multi-core or atom would be awesome, because it would exted my battery life and make switching between programs slightly faster, but in terms of what I need, I\’d really hate giving up my pointer mouse for that little advantage.

On that note, go buy yourself a netbook (with Windows or Linux) (though Windows will succumb to bloatware) because it will do everything that you need, fit in the palm of your hand, and have a long 8 hour battery life. And you\’re really not trading much unless you\’re doing genetic processing.

Of course, if you consider what you need and use less, it will be more environmental too!