Thursday, November 18, 2010


Over a year ago I bought a Netbook, kind of on a whim. It's a fun little toy, good for browsing the internet and other minor tasks. It didn't quite have the horsepower to play streaming video, but it was good for listening to music and playing online poker.

When Windows 7 came out I decided to give it a shot on the netbook. The install wasn't unpleasant, it seemed to run alright. As time went on it seemed to grow less and less stable, at first browsers would crash, then the whole OS would blue screen. I never really did any serious computing on it, just looking things up on Wikipedia or IMDB, so random crashes didn't bother me too much.

One day I got a wild hair and decided to load Ubuntu on it. If you don't already know, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that installs like Windows on computers and has a nice pretty interface that's fairly intuitive. I really liked the change of pace and I especially liked how stable it was. They make a build specifically for Netbooks and it seemed to install seamlessly and run much faster and smoother than Windows ever did. Even streaming video was tolerable. This came in very handy for things like YouTube videos demonstrating how to do a valve adjustment on Scooter #2. When you can carry the wireless computer right into the garage and watch the video while you're looking right at the parts that need adjusting, it's a whole new world.

Ubuntu can even run some Windows applications through an emulator called WINE. (I believe it's short for WINdows Emulator. They're creative like that.) Alas, poker software would not run on Wine for more than a few minutes before it crashed.

I was pretty happy with Ubuntu otherwise, and rarely booted into Windows. Which meant no poker. Everytime I loaded up Windows 7 I would poke around for a little while and if I left the netbook to go do something else, I would come back and it was booted into Linux. Ubuntu was the default OS selection and that meant Windows had crashed again and the computer had reset itself. I couldn't even trust it enough to play poker on it.

Poking around on it last weekend I discovered the partition on the hard drive that held the original install files. I experimented with it and discovered I could run the install without disturbing my Ubuntu install. Off I went, back to Windows XP.

For some reason it ran much smoother than I remember. Maybe I had adjusted to the crashes so much that I forgot how solid XP ran on the machine. Since it was running smoother I decided to play some online poker again. I tried some Rush Poker on Full Tilt, and it worked flawlessly. I even dragged a few pots. I fired up some O8 ring games on PokerStars and again it was crash free, and I managed to find the same old fire-on-every-street-with-nothing donkeys that inhabit the low limit O8 games.

The true test came last night, I actually entered a Tournament. It wasn't a huge deal because if the netbook became crashy I could switch to my desktop to finish. But the little-computer-that-could didn't even flicker as I played the Mookie for 3 hours and split first place. Fifty-two bucks (minus the 11 entry) in my pocket, this netbook is finally paying for itself!

The Mookie is still a fun tournament with enjoyable people just playing poker to have a good time. I recognized a couple of names from the old times, amazing since I haven't played a Mook in eons. I even won some pots with the hammer, once when I was the smallest stack out of three remainders.

Next week I'm on vacation for Thanksgiving, and it will be really nice to have the old netbook running right as rain again.


gadzooks64 said...

I'm a big fan of the netbook. I have had one since last fall. I upgraded the ram in mine to the 2gb max and that helped tremendously.

Mine came with xp but I upgraded it to Windows 7; I noticed no ill effects of this upgrade. However, there are a lot of people that swear xp is better than 7 for netbooks.

I never considered Ubuntu because I needed a lot of stuff to run that wouldn't work with Linux.

Glad you were able to work it out with xp. Playing poker was definitely one of the things I wanted to do on my netbook and it would have been a deal breaker if I wasn't going to be able to do that.

jjok said...

well done in the Mook. I need to get back into that one.

Interesting writeup regarding netbook. I've been thinking alot about getting one. Interesting take on XP for netbook from you and gadz.