For the past few weeks, the Cloudbook has been a real disappointment, and it’s not like I was asking for much. All I wanted was to be able to access the Web and to use a word processing program. I got 50% of that. I was never able to really connect to wireless in a way that would allow me to surf the Web. If I put the computer right next to the base station I could connect, but even then, it would take 5 minutes to get a web site up and if I tried to load two at once, I’d get nothing. Saturday night, I brought the computer to Jessamyn’s house and tried to connect to her wireless network. Same result. And it has nothing to do with the hardware; the hardware is great. It’s the craptastic, half-baked operating system they put on it; an operating system that doesn’t adequately support the hardware.
So my brilliant husband spent all day Sunday installing Windows XP on the Cloudbook. Apparently a few people had installed XP and were very happy with how well it worked with the hardware. They were absolutely right. It works perfectly. It connects to the wireless with no problem. Windows are all the right size and don’t go off the screen. It boots quickly. It’s easy to change the screen resolution. And when I close the computer, it actually goes to sleep (and it wakes up fast). It’s now everything I wanted it to be. I’m actually typing up my blog post on it right now (you get used to the keyboard really quickly — I’m probably typing 50 wpm now).
It’s companies like Everex that give open source software a bad name and make people think that open source software is for only the most tech-savvy. They did a great job with the hardware, but the software was like an afterthought. It didn’t even work with their hardware! It ran horribly. Sure, I’d have loved to have installed regular Ubuntu on here, but I read too many stories about people having problems installing other open source operating systems on the Cloudbook. Windows supports the hardware. It was just easier, though there was no way I would have been able to figure out how to install XP on a computer with no CD-ROM drive (thanks Adam!).
In 12 days, I’ll be at the Computers in Libraries conference and I’m so confident in my new toy that I’ll only be bringing the Cloudbook. And the best part is that it’s so light and small I can carry it around in a purse! Thanks again to my wonderful husband; without him, I’d never have been able to get this computer to a place where I could use it. You rock, Ad! 🙂
You don’t rock, Everex. 🙁
1. Adam rules.
2. I’m so disappointed that the Cloudbook’s native OS was so awful.
How do you like the hardware? Do you find the size of the screen and keyboard manageable? What’s the battery life like?
if you still want a completely working out of the box linux for the CB, try your favorite flavor of ubuntu 8.04 Beta (i’m running kubuntu). Everything just works. You may have to boot with lower graphics mode, but everything including wifi and sound work after the install without issue. Dual boot- i did.
David, the hardware is fine. While it’s a small screen, it’s really nice and clear and easy to look at for long periods of time. I got used to the keyboard quickly and can type pretty fast (with a few more mistakes than I normally do, but not bad).
Battery life is about the same as my MacBook Pro, which isn’t bad (3 hours), but it’s nowhere near 5 hours. Even without the wifi on, it’s not close to 5 hours. I’ll definitely be buying an extra battery once Everex makes them available.
How did he manage to install it without a CD?
I’m going to be at CIL2008 as well. I’ll try to come up and say HI! I do enjoy reading your blog.
You’ve read “Ronco Spray-on Usability, right? http://daringfireball.net/2004/04/spray_on_usability
It’s a lovely essay, and not at all irrelevant to the current trajectory of the OPAC.
How did he manage to install it without a CD?
Good question! I initially thought it wouldn’t work properly at all.. fortunately for Meredith, it did 🙂
I copied the WinXP install CD to a USB key, changed the bios to boot from the memory stick, and away I went.
The only problem was that it would not boot without the USB stick, as the boot.ini file on the cloudbook’s HD was pointing to the wrong disk. Changing that one file to Disk 0 instead of Disk 1 resolved the boot problem.
I’ve been working with linux since about 1993 (Yggdrasil, etc..) and have installed it on all types of servers and desktops. I’ve never seen a less fit-for-purpose version than gOS.
It is supposed to be a dead-simple OS for people who just want to write a few documents and surf the web. It is NOT supposed to be for techies. As installed on the Cloudbook, it is — to put it bluntly — a hot mess.
* The UI doesn’t scale properly for the small screen, with windows falling off edge. This is not only annoying, it can actually prevent applications from working properly (like, umm, the setup app that you see when booting the machine for the first time!)
* The wifi driver is hopelessly broken, making it difficult or impossible to attach to base stations 3′ away. Even when it connects, there are frequent dropouts and poor performance.
* It takes forever to boot
* It takes forever to come out of standby or hibernation, and apps crash as it comes back alive.
As painful as it is to admit, installing XP on it turned the computer from a doorstop into something that’s really useful and cool. I think Everex sells this machine in Europe and Asia with XP on it by default, as they posted all the necessary drivers on their site. They work flawlessly.
So, if you have $399, a spare XP license, USB pen drive, and the better part of a weekend, it isn’t a bad little machine. Out of the box, forget it.
Adam, any chance of a different Linux distro working on it?
gOS is based on Ubuntu, so I thought that it would at least work somewhat OK. It didn’t, and I suspect the big reason is the drivers that it shipped with.
Unless the latest beta version of Ubuntu has updated drivers, I don’t think it will do all that much better than gOS did.
Meredith needed a machine that Just Worked with zero futzing, so as soon as I saw that Everex had posted a complete set of WinXP drivers, I just jumped on it.
You should play with it if you make it to CIL. It’s a pretty cool little machine now that the software is fixed up.
try booting puppy linux on it… they have versions optimised for small screens and there is a lot of support for olpc Eee and now i guess the cloudbook… there is a drawback however you can only run as root with puppylinux and there are fewer packages but it is quite usable. booting from usb is how the developer does it 🙂 and it installs easily to HD most of the time forum: murga-linux.com/puppy and puppylinux.org
btw have you noticed that your cloudbook gets hot? I ask because I read about that in another review….
Thanks for the update, Meredith. So often we get the excited “unboxing” photos and blog posts with no updates on how the product actually delivers.
I got an XO and had the same problem. The hardware is a miracle but the software stank. I decided to ditch it and get an Eee PC. I just got tired of the work arounds to make the XO a viable computer.
Sorry about your cloud book but it sounds like you found an easy fix.
HI meredith (from Oz),
I was reading /alternative-ways-to-participate-or-why-i-probably-wont-be-at-midwinter/
It’s comment box seems to be turned off, so excuse me for posting here. It is kinda semi related.
I’m not a librarian. Just a bit of a geek who is hoping that some .org in the US librarian space might get a “platform for collaboration” up so the global groups with (your) similar interests might get the kind of communication network that you seem to be trying to stitch together. It’s the same everywhere. ArGhh!
So, because i think WJ holds a bit of hope and they’re renovating, I’ve been bashing ears down there. http://webjunction.org/forums/
I really do think that you’ll hit a nerve if you give this a bit of a push now. I live on forums around the global traps as they tend to be community hubs. Blogs drive me crazy = so many similar, disjointed & half complete conversations scattered around the web don’t help people inside death stars understand what common communication bits might be better shared than run independently.
So could i suggest a bit of advocacy around the banner of “Community Hub”. http://docs.moodle.org/en/Community_hub
If we can get OCLC and the ALA to get serious then maybe we could also get a few other silos (like the ALIA in Oz, and the DDC in the UK) to consider that this is WORLD wide web, and we only need ONE platform which could be shared.
Reading your community’s blogs, it seems like they know what they want. So please could we have a spec (for WJ)?