Netbook and Linux and Skype

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I've been following the threads here about netbooks, and recently bought
a 'user returned' Toshiba NB100 at a good price.
I'd guess there will be a lot of these sort of bargains about

I booted it up, all seemed good. It said there were 137 Ubuntu updates.
I let it do them all. This killed the wi-fi, and after days and with a
lot of help off support sites and with some marvellous private help from
a Linux expert, we failed to get the networking back without plugging in
the old RJ45.
So I gave up and installed a later Ubuntu, 9.04, which has been very
successful. I can:
Skype sound and vision
Work seamlessly with my Windows network
Play audio and video fine
access my MySQL server over the network via Open Office's database front
Use an external webcam to point at the towbar on the Land Rover to help
hook up to fishing boats (it just over-rides the internal webcam). It's
brilliant for this.
Use my Tascam US-122 for decent audio with Ardour and Audacity

plus all the usual things like adding up and typing.

Additionally, I'm gradually edging my way round Ubuntu and have got far
further and more confident than I've ever been with my failed Linux
attempts in the past. In general, I feel at least as happy with Ubuntu
as with Vista, which may not be saying much, but it's real progress for

However, in spite of all I've achieved with the audio, I'm not really
happy yet. My Skype contacts all say the audio quality is poor from the
Tosh compared to my much more powerful Windows laptops, even when
plugging in the same headset to both machines. Additionally, the
Audacity recordings, for example, do seem to have a habit of suddenly
stopping for no apparent reason.

This may well be because I have no understanding of what all the
different settings for audio actually mean - ALSA vs OSS vs Pulse. Is
there a simple overview anywhere?
Also, does anyone know whether the Linux Skype, which has a very low
version number compared with the Windows Skype, is as well developed as
the Windows version? The two Skypes seem to have vastly different
structures in terms of ini (or registry settings) vs conf files.

Just for info, we compared my Tosh with 1.6 Atom with a Sony netbook
with 1.3 Atom running as delivered with Vista (!). Skype sound and
vision on the Sony was running at 100%, on the Linux Tosh both 'cores
were at about 75%. Tosh video was fine, Sony video was erratic.

Any comments welcomed!

Re: Netbook and Linux and Skype

Bill typed on Tue, 21 Jul 2009 23:31:23 +0100:

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See below.

No, it is common for the Linux and Mac versions to be less as featured
as the Windows versions. My guess is they spend more time on the Windows
version because 90% of the users use it. While there is a much smaller
base for Mac and even smaller yet base for Linux users.

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Well I am confused which one is the Vista one and which one is the Linux
one.But running Windows 2000/XP and Linux on the same machines, Windows
is very smooth playing multimedia. Vista and Windows 7 is too, but they
hit the CPU much harder than 2000 or XP does. Remember too, Microsoft
has spent a lot of development time on making multimedia to play
smoothly. And it should no matter what you also have running on your
system. I mean as long as you are not choking it to death.

Linux on the other hand, does not have such nice things as DirectX or
anything to help keep multimedia smooth under heavy CPU use. Thus you
need a far more powerful machine to have the same multimedia experience
as a Windows machine.

Some people love open source software. Why I don't know? Because top
dollar programmers are not attracted towards open source, as there isn't
any money in it. Although who knows, maybe one of them someday that has
enough free time might take care of that for Linux users. Maybe we have
to wait until one of them retires. <sigh>

Gateway MX6124 - Windows XP SP2

Re: Netbook and Linux and Skype

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So probably the best thing to do would be to run Win7 from one of my 8GB
memory sticks to see how that works. A reminder of how you achieved that
and whether you think there would be space for a dose of Skype would be
useful. The Tosh netbook only has 512MB memory, but hopefully that will
be enough for Win7 to run  .

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  My Toshiba NB100 runs Ubuntu on a 1.6GHz Atom with 512MB memory
The Sony netbook ran Vista on a 1.3GHz Atom with, I think, 1GB memory.
The Sony has a nice big keyboard but a screen resolution that makes the
text ridiculously tiny. We tested both netbooks across the country into
known reliable Skype-friendly machines.

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Well, Skype choked the video on the Sony machine to death with 100%
processor usage. The Toshiba Linux machine was approaching the limit,
but gave distorted sound while maintaining the picture. That's why I
feel I need to test the Toshiba Skype experience with Win7. Or I suppose
I could try W2k (does it run Skype?) or XP, but licences again rear
their ugly head

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I want to like open source software for two reasons.
First, Vista is very difficult to move between platforms without running
into registration/illegality problems, and Vista seems to have screwed
up security to the extent that I never can be certain that I can move
files around the network without hitting permission or other access
Second, when I search for hardware/software basic info on the 'net, more
often than not some Linux nerd has posted the most useful result, so I
feel much more affinity to him than the usually faceless Microsoft
copyright protector.

In practice, I'm horrified by the quantity and frequency of Ubuntu
updates. But then, I'm horrified by the Vista updates as well.
Getting my old Tascam audio interface to work in Ubuntu was a massive,
time consuming struggle, but it does work. I have other hardware audio
interfaces, but none of them seem to have Linux drivers.
But the Vista audio interface for internal on-board sound devices has to
be a masterpiece of misguided design, and operates differently on almost
every machine I have.

What I was really expressing in the original post was my surprise at how
good Ubuntu 9.04 was for doing all the 'normal' things. It may be me,
but now that I've got it working, I've found the real-world local
networking to be better than Vista.

And I'm still looking for a decent guide to what all these Linux audio
'methods' are.

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