There was a time when almost every netbook came with Linux. Flash forward a few years, and Windows dominates the netbook space, but a few niche companies such as System76 and ZaReason continue to provide Linux-based netbooks in addition to other laptop and desktop computers running Linux.

System76 recently introduced its latest Linux netbook, the second generation Starling NetBook. The new model features  10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N455 processor, and runs Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx.

The netbook comes standard with 2GB of DDR2 memory and a 250GB hard drive. But you can configure it with a larger hard drive or a solid state disk. 802.1b/g/n WiFi and a 4 cell battery also come standard, although you’ll be able to order an extra 3 cell battery or a 6 cell battery.

One of the advantages of choosing a netbook that comes preloaded with Linux is that it isn’t bound by the restrictions Microsoft places on netbooks with Windows 7 Starter Edition, which is why even the cheapest configuration of the Starling includes twice the memory you’ll find on most netbooks.

The Starling NetBook has a starting price of $389. It’s available for pre-order now, and should start shipping the first week of August.

via OMG Ubuntu

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11 replies on “System76 introduces next-gen Starling NetBook with Ubuntu 10.04”

  1. Well, I’m writing this on a “last generation” (I guess) Starling that I fondly call Starlight, while watching the ocean roll in at a beach house in Florida.

    While I could certainly have bought a low-end Windows-based netbook and loaded Ubuntu myself (I’ve installed Linux hundreds of times; it’s trivial), I’ve never regretted my decision to buy Starlight, for several reasons.

    (1) My netbook is of very high quality; it just works, and works well. The keyboard is very comfortable, even for my rather large hands (in fact, I’m finishing up my new book on it while on vacation). Everything worked great out of the box – better than my experience with most computer purchases, including those with that *other* OS. The battery lasts about 6 hours while using wifi, even after a year of fairly heavy use. And it runs identical versions of all of my desktop software.

    The only downsides have been less-than-spectacular wifi reception, and the low-res webcam (though I’m not sure a hi-res webcam was something I particularly wanted).

    (2) Since I’m work-focused enough to want to buy Ubuntu pre-installed rather than setting it up myself for many of my computers, I’m not unhappy giving a couple of extra Jacksons to a quality company like System76 for handling the install for me. A quality workman earns his hire.

    Just my opinion, but I suppose enough of us are buying from them to keep the “niche” players in business.

    Speaking of which, when the article refers to “a few niche companies provide Linux-based netbooks”, were they including among them? 😀

  2. Funny how small vendors’ linux computers often sell for more than the windows counterparts of equal specs.
    Extra money for a free OS? I’d rather buy a cheap win netbook, upgrade the RAM, then install ubuntu (which isn’t remotely hard if you followed the thousand’s of guides on the web).
    This, and the lack of software diversity, is why linux, despite being a superb OS/kernel, accounts for < 5% of all computer OSes.

    1. That’s because they make sure that all their hardware works out of the box with Linux, which sometimes means using components that might cost a little more. You don’t always get this with the cheaper netbooks that come with Windows because the manufacturer only expects Windows to run on them out of the box. There’s no guarantee that everything will work under Linux on the cheaper preinstalled-Windows netbook. Also, the cost of Windows is subsidized by all the trialware included with it. You don’t get this from the Linux-only vendors.As for the lack of diversity in software, I’d say that any Linux repository could refute that claim in a moment’s notice. That is, of course, unless you’re talking about commercial software like MS Office, Photoshop, etc. (most of which are able to run under WINE, incidentally), but most people looking for Linux-only netbooks wouldn’t be concerned with those things.

      1. Ubuntu works fine on my P1620. Only thing not working is the touch screen buttons, but that didn’t work in win 7 without proprietary drivers anyway.
        With such a large driver base managed by hundreds of thousands of users (many of them netbook users) there is scarcely any hardware in the last five years not supported by ubuntu. The compatible hardware should not be a reason why windows netbooks with similar specs sell for considerably less.

        And yes, I was referring to commercial software. Practically no major company sells software for linux variants because it accounts for such a small percentage of users.

        1. You said it yourself: proprietary drivers. There are wireless chipsets that either have a hard time under Linux or just won’t work at all (at least not yet). ZaReason, System76, and others make sure that the hardware included works out of the box with any distribution, so part of the cost is based on the hardware included. Also, keep in mind that these manufacturers might not have the reources to include binary blobs for such devices that need them. Broadcom chipsets, while cheaper and found on a lot of netbooks and notebooks, do require a binary blob that is not included with Linux distributions even if preinstalled. Micosoft covers these costs which allows for Broadcom’s proprietary firmware to be included in the OS. Intel provides the specs for their IntelPRO wifi chipsets so they are very well supported with open drivers, but they cost more (spec out a Dell laptop with Broadcom and Intel and you’ll see the cost difference).

          I wouldn’t say no major company sells proprietary software for Linux. There are plenty of them out there, though a lot of them aren’t apparent to the average consumer. This list on Wikipedia lists a whole bunch of them (both gratis and pay), although a few (like Netscape, for example) aren’t really viable options today:

          However, I do reiterate that someone looking for a Linux-only netbook won’t be too concerned with the supposed lack of proprietary software since they most likely are using FLOSS solutions to suit their needs.

  3. I’m still a bit disappointed at the features of this second-gen model from System76. They still only have the 0.3 megapixel webcam and a 3-cell battery by default. At their price, it’s not worth it, especially when you compare it to the ZaReaon Teo (…). Sure the CPU on the Teo is previous generation and the Starling has more RAM/HDD, but the features that come with it are quite compelling, even against some Windows netbooks out there…and it’s only 10 dollars more than the Starling. I can always upgrade the RAM and HDD later on. Plus, you get a greater choice of preinstalled Linux distributions on the Teo, not just Ubuntu.

  4. I have replaced XP on my ASUS 1005ha the main OS. I haven’t booted to windows since I have installed Ubuntu and Linux is much faster.
    I think (I hope)windows started is hurting netbook sales.While I don’t like windows anyone who pays for it deserves the full OS and not a have ASS system that you can’t even change the wallpaper on. I always hope big companies greed will hurt them but it rarely does.
    Having said that the netbook above is still to overpriced for the hardware in it. A much larger capacity battery should be part of why it costs $389.

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