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What’s the best OS for use on the new ultra-portable netbook systems? I used a Samsung NC10 netbook and three operating systems to try to find out the answer.

The Samsung NC10 is a pretty standard netbook –1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, and a really nice 10.2-inch WSVGA screen. The NC10 comes with Windows XP Home as the preinstalled OS.

As you’d expect, Windows XP runs really nicely on the NC10. Despite having what many consider to be a lowly specification, a netbook is a very capable system. Given that Windows XP is now more than seven years old, the inevitability of Moore’s Law has meant that budget hardware can deliver a fantastic computing experience. The biggest problem with XP, especially for anyone who has used a more modern OS, is that it looks and feels long in the tooth.

However, no matter how tired that Windows XP looks and feels, it works very well on the NC10, and everything on the netbook is designed with XP in mind.

So, how will the little Samsung netbook feel with a different OS loaded onto it?

The two operating systems that I tried were Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” and Windows 7 beta build 7000, both of which in their 32-bit flavors. (I didn’t see any point to loading a 64-bit OS onto a system with only 1GB of RAM).

The first point to make is that Windows 7 is a BETA. That means things can go wrong and if they do, you are very much on your own. Don’t expect your OEM to help you out, and don’t expect much in the way of support from Microsoft.

The second point to note is that when changing the default OS on any system it’s possible to run into trouble. Unless you are comfortable with installing, reinstalling, backing up, finding and installing drivers and general troubleshooting then you should stick with whatever OS came installed on your system.

The final point worth making is that I made sure that the BIOS firmware was the very latest code before attempting to install either of the new OSes.

The method I used for installing the operating systems was a simple one – I dug out my USB external CD/DVD drive and hooked that to a USB port. This seemed far simpler than messing about with USB flash drives.

First off I installed Ubuntu 8.10. Overall the installation process was quick and simple – something that I’ve come to expect of this particular Linux distro – and I ended up with a snappy OS.

Problem was, a lot of things seemed flaky. The most obvious of these was the fact that the trackpad seemed to behave very oddly and the Wi-Fi just wouldn’t work. I later also discovered that the special Fn (function) keys weren’t working, something which I was expecting.

These issues aren’t deal-breakers by any means, and solutions are at hand. A good source of information was Ubuntu’s own help site, which provided me with solutions to most of the issues I’d noticed. It also informed me about a few issues that I hadn’t noticed relating to the speaker sounds not cutting out when headphones are used.

At best, when running Ubuntu 8.10 on the Samsung NC10 you end up with most of the Fn keys not working (brightness does, but all others, such as monitor switching and sleep, are dead), a non-functioning Wi-Fi on/off switch and no trackpad multi-touch.

For me, while having features that I couldn’t use might bug me occasionally, I don’t think that they would be deal-breakers, although the inability to switch off Wi-Fi could be a pain at times.

From a performance perspective, the netbook has no problems handling the full desktop OS. While it’s hard to be sure, I’d say that Ubuntu is faster and snappier than XP, and applications such as Firefox and chúng tôi are quite functional. If you can live with a few non-functional Fn keys, and are up for a little problem solving, Ubuntu is overall an improvement over the pre-installed XP OS.

Next up, Windows 7 beta. The leap from XP to Windows 7 meant that there was no chance of upgrading the system. However, for a system I was going to put into daily use I wouldn’t take that shortcut because the best way to install Windows is always to carry out a clean install.

As someone who primarily uses Windows (although I do have systems running both Mac and Linux too) I like Windows 7, like it a lot. To begin with, 7 is a pleasure to install.

The time gap between popping the DVD in the drive and being at the desktop actually working is around 20 minutes, and small things such as not making the Windows Experience Index test mandatory during the first run (something which can take quite a bit of time on slower systems) represent a huge improvement over Vista.

In case you’re wondering, the NC10 scores a respectable 2.1 on the Windows Experience Index rating, making it an ideal general-purpose PC.

Next Page: Which OS is ultimately best on an Netbook?

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The Windows Xp Upgrade Question: Windows 7 Or Windows 8?

Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8. While you’re technically free to keep using the 12-year-old operating system, doing so may put you at greater security risk for attack as future vulnerabilities go unpatched.

We won’t make the decision between Windows 7 and Windows 8 for you, but if you do decide to heed Microsoft’s nagging post-expiration pop-ups, we can help you pick the right operating system for your needs. 

The case for Windows 7

The biggest benefit to Windows 7 is familiarity. The pop-up Start menu is still intact, and the basic functionality is similar enough that you don’t have to relearn much. You can even make Windows 7 look like Windows XP with just a few tweaks.

Toasty Tech

By comparison, Windows 8 (and the sweeping Windows 8.1 update) has a steeper learning curve. Microsoft got rid of the pop-up Start menu and replaced it with an app launcher that takes up the entire screen. This Start screen is filled with new kinds of apps that are optimized for touch interaction. While the desktop is still available, you may find yourself getting bounced back and forth between the two interfaces. Crucial system commands are hidden in invisible “Charms” and “Hot Corners” that only appear when you move your mouse to certain points on the edge of the screen. Summoning the hidden menus becomes second nature once you’re using to it, though there’s certainly a learning curve to the unfamiliar system. 

Likewise, you can bring back some familiarity to Windows 8 with settings tweaks and third-party software, but it’s a much more laborious process. Windows 7 is the safer bet if you want things to stay pretty much the way they are in XP, or if you’re buying a new PC for an XP-using relative.

Windows 7 also has the benefit of being a highly refined, complete operating system. From the start, it was a vast improvement over Windows Vista, rather than a complete reinvention that introduced new problems. And since its launch in 2009, it has received a major Service Pack upgrade and countless bug fixes. Windows 7 isn’t perfect by any means, but unlike Windows 8, it doesn’t feel like a work in progress.

The case for Windows 8

The default Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (pictured) Start screen looks nothing at all like Windows XP and hides important commands behind invisible controls tucks into corners. 

The traditional Windows desktop is available in the new-look Windows 8. While it lacks Windows’ iconic Start menu (for now) and you have to travel through the app-filled Start screen to get there (again, for now), those concerns will one day melt away, as Microsoft is trying to address PC users’ biggest Windows 8 complaints through software updates.

Some of those benefits are subtle or under the hood. Startup and shutdown times are much faster in Windows 8, and overall performance is slightly improved. Virus protection is now built into the operating system, so you don’t have to download Microsoft Security Essentials or pay for an antivirus suite, and a new secure boot option is enabled by default.

Pondering hardware and support realities

Also, if you’re just now migrating from Windows XP, perhaps you’re not the type who likes to upgrade often. Keep in mind, then, that Windows 7’s extended support ends in January 2023. Windows 8 offers extended support until 2023, so you’d have an extra few years before we have to repeat this whole exercise.

Will Xp Users Shun Windows 8 In Favor Of Ubuntu?

Historically, Windows hasn’t been tremendously effective in the area of backwards compatibility. Anyone who has migrated to a new Windows release with older peripherals has likely felt the pain I’m talking about.

On the flipside, the idea that Windows 8 will drive Windows users to Ubuntu in droves is unlikely. If a new PC buyer has been content with the Windows OS, switching suddenly to something else is highly improbably. Even if keeping their existing hardware and locating a good Linux distro might be a more economical solution, most people will stick with what they know. It’s simply a matter of familiarity for most Windows users looking to upgrade.

Although we don’t have hard numbers on the Ubuntu adoption rate, we do know that Ubuntu is seeing new users every day. Many of these users are installing Ubuntu on newer hardware so they can enjoy all that Unity has to offer.

This is great news; however, these days it feels like Ubuntu’s focus on newer hardware has left existing users of older hardware out in the cold. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this, except that Ubuntu has left some users wondering if it will continue to be a viable option for them. I touched on this in a previous article.

Are peripherals enough to drive people over to a new platform?

In most instances, no, not even a little bit.

The fact is, most users are bound to a familiar software and desktop layout that they’ve come to expect. It’s the price folks pay when they become accustomed to a proprietary operating system. Once you’re locked into a needed proprietary application and its corresponding file format, you may be locked in for good. There are certain motivations that may potentially still bring people over to Ubuntu, but the legacy software issue remains a concern.

Despite the software lock-in issue, one group of Windows users may be willing to try out a Windows alternative. These users are the ones who will be upgrading from Windows XP.

Regardless of what you may have read elsewhere, Windows XP is alive and well in the world. And things are going to become interesting when XP users look to their next upgrade path.

For the less tech-savvy, the natural upgrade path is going to be to a new Windows 8 PC. After all, Windows is a brand these users know.

However, for those who have been exposed to Ubuntu Linux at some level, the temptation to give the OS a shot might finally take hold. These individuals are usually more tech-savvy or might be the family tech support person. Assuming the PC is fast enough to support it, Ubuntu suddenly looks like a viable option in these instances.

But before we get too excited, there are some things that need to happen here in order to maximize Ubuntu’s adoption rate during the Windows 8 release cycle.

A more natural approach would be a greater focus on the Ubuntu LoCo teams. These are Ubuntu support groups who volunteer to put on events in their local areas. They help those who need assistance with Ubuntu, along with providing other great benefits.

With this in mind I went to my own LoCo group page thinking surely there would be lots happening considering how new Ubuntu 12.10 is, right? Sadly, I was mistaken. Upon visiting, I was presented with a static website and crickets.

From the limited information listed there, it was clear to me that this page was targeting those who already knew what Ubuntu is. And once again, it lacked any compelling reason for me to check it out. But hey, at least they offered pictures! On the plus side, I was thrilled to see that their forum was very active, so that was good.

After poking around the various LoCo resources, I realized why the expertise gap remains between Ubuntu and Windows and how incredibly ineffective the current LoCo setup is. Honestly, I’ve seen local Linux User Groups with better organization than this! While the LoCos do okay with coordinating international events, they remain largely within their own little echo chamber. And last time I checked, that isn’t a great way to get new users on board.

Cat 7 Vs. Cat 8




Cat7 and Cat8 Ethernet cables might confuse clients in search of a good option to set up their Internet network.

But their specifications are quite different, and it’s good to take a look at each one, whilst not forgetting about previous cable versions.

We will tell you what makes each cable different, so that you can make the best choice when it comes to Cat 7 vs Cat 8.

As if three types of Ethernet cables were not enough, electric equipment producers moved on to launch two more options, much to the confusion of many regular clients.

So now, besides Cat5E and Cat6, Cat 5 vs Cat 6 (not to mention Cat6A), we also have Cat7 and Cat8 Ethernet cables. Besides the marketing reasons that led to this evolution, for sure there’re also some safety standards involved.

What makes these last two the so-called next-generation Ethernet cables and which is the best. In this article, we will do a Cat 7 vs Cat 8 comparison, to help you choose the one that is right for you.

What’s the difference between Cat7 and Cat8 Ethernet cables?

Basically, the biggest difference between the two lies in their performance for what they were made. They differ when it comes to Ethernet speed, endurance in time, flexibility, sturdiness, etc.

What is Cat 7 used for?

The Cat7 Ethernet cables support high-speed ethernet communication of up to 10 Gbps, with a larger bandwidth than its predecessors, of 600 MHz.

They are made of twisted pairs of wire, and each pair is cover in a shield, complying with the strictest specifications for reducing crosstalk.

Here’s our top pick for the best Cat7 Ethernet cable.

What is Cat 8 Ethernet?

Cat8 Ethernet cables are also fully shielded. They bring a huge difference from the previous versions, supporting a frequency of 2 GHz, with a speed of 25 Gbps or in some cases 40 Gbps, over up to 30 meters.

They can be terminated with RJ-45 or non-RJ-45 connections, which makes them compatible with previous cable versions.

Both cables are sturdier as compared with the previous versions, which are more flexible.

This is what makes them more time-resistant when it comes to a Cat 7 vs Cat 8 comparision, with a life span of up to 15 years, according to tests.

Here’s our top pick for the best Cat8 Ethernet cable.

Cat 7 vs Cat 8 – Which is better?

Cat7 cables are perfect to get more speed over wider distances. And so they are the preferred cables type for large enterprise spaces and datacenters.

For a regular home, a Cat7 cable will do the job but might be overrated, since most homes don’t have switches that require more than 1Gb.

On the other hand, Cat7 cables are not recognized by the TIA/EIA standards (applicable in the US, for instance).

Also, Cat7 does not use standard 8P8C RJ-45 connectors, but GG45 connectors for top performance.

Cat8 cables are the most expensive of all cables categories because they have a lot of features that increase costs.

Depending on where they are used, the distance limitation can be a blocker.

So now that you know more about Cat7 and Cat8 Ethernet cables, you can make an informed choice.

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Ubuntu Vs. Fedora: The Latest Versions Square Off

Ubuntu regularly claims to be the most popular Linux distribution. But, if so, Fedora is a competitive second. Both have thriving communities and are a major source of free and open source software innovation.

Regularly, you can read on mailing lists of users having grown discontented with one and deciding to migrate to the other. In many users’ minds, each is an alternative to the other.

But how do the distributions really compare?

The most reliable answer is to examine the latest releases, Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) and Fedora 13 (Goddard) — or, to be exact, Fedora 13’s release candidate, since last minute concerns delayed the final release that was expected this week by another seven days. Dealing with a release candidate does put some restrictions on the comparison, but, to judge from previous releases, not enough to affect the overall impressions.

Basically, with its reputation for innovation and its determination to provide only free software, the latest Fedora ranks among the best of the traditional distributions, with a GNOME desktop only lightly customize and branded. By contrast, Ubuntu’s latest version places a higher emphasis on usability and commercial competitiveness — so much so that it is making many of its changes inside the distribution before they are accepted by the GNOME project itself.

Yet despite these different outlooks and goals, the differences turn out to be small, especially from an end-user’s perspective.

Most of the reservations about working with the Fedora release candidate are about installation and starting the new system. To start with, the Fedora team has chosen not to focus on squeezing a usable system on to a single CD during development, leaving most users to download a CD set or a single DVD. The sole exception is the KDE spin, which does have a Live CD. While the Fedora download page promise s Live CDs for the final release, for now, the curious are left with a three hour download (unless you get lucky with BitTorrent). This decision is much less convenient than the single CD for the latest Ubuntu download.

Both Ubuntu and Fedora have simple default installs, aimed more at newer users than experts, although Ubuntu also offers a more customizable alternate installer. Each of the defaults creates a single ext4 installation partition and a swap partition, although Fedora’s default swap partition is almost a quarter larger than Ubuntu’s.

To boot, Ubuntu uses GRUB2 — the only major distribution, so far as I know, to do so. Like most distributions, Fedora continues to use GRUB Legacy, a difference that newer users will never notice and more experienced users might prefer because it is easier to edit manually.

Both distributions use Plymouth to reduce bootup time, although in practice, the Fedora release candidate took almost ninety seconds to boot on my test machine, compared to nineteen seconds for Ubuntu. Judging by the previous official releases, this difference is likely to narrow considerably after Fedora 13’s official release, but not be eliminated entirely.

Fedora desktop

Both Fedora and Ubuntu are GNOME-centered distributions, with KDE, Xfce, and other desktops as alternatives. Fedora has included fresh art for each new release for several years now, so its wallpaper compares favorably with Ubuntu’s much-discussed new color-coded scheme.

In fact, apart from the fact that Fedora’s desktop wallpaper favors shades of blue while Ubuntu’s is mostly shades of aubergine (purple), the two themes are remarkably similar, each one involving semi-abstract gradients and swirls of color. You might not think that the same artist had done both wallpapers, but they could easily be from the same school of design.

The two desktops are also easily recognized as variations on standard GNOME, with one panel at the top for menus, applets, and other basic utilities such as the notification tray and date and time, and another on the bottom for a task bar and virtual work space.

Next Page: Ubuntu and Fedora Productivity Software Selection

Still, the departures from standard GNOME that do exist are largely in Ubuntu. Working within the distribution rather than within the GNOME project, Ubuntu has rewritten the notification system, making it more useful, but also more obtrusive.

Ubuntu has also given the corners of the desktop specific functions: the top left for menus, the top right for log off actions, the bottom left for showing the desktop, and the bottom right for the trash can. Another Ubuntu innovation is the MeMenu, which attempts to create a centralized place for managing social media accounts and chats.

Undoubtedly, the largest difference in Ubuntu defaults is the placement of the title bar buttons on the left and the elimination of the window menu. This arrangement leaves a broad space on the right of each window’s title bar, which in another release or two might be filled with some other useful information.

Yet for all the discussion of this arrangement, the worst that can be said is that it is initially awkward, while the best is that you can quickly get used to the change. Despite all the attention lavished on the change, it really doesn’t affect your computing for better or worse.

Ubuntu desktop

Neither the latest Fedora nor Ubuntu strays very far from their shared GNOME roots in software selection. Both include the standard GNOME productivity applications, such as Firefox for browsing, Evolution for Email, and Empathy for messaging.

Each distro does include some applications that the other doesn’t. For example, Ubuntu includes Computer Janitor and Gwibber, while Fedora boasts Network Manager and its ABRT (Automatic Bug Reporting Tool). Yet, generally, the differences are not vast.

The greatest difference is that, because Fedora uses Shotwell for image management and Gnote instead of Tomboy for a note system, it does not depend on the controversial Mono framework. These decisions seem to have been made to help free space on the Live CD, but those who disapprove of Mono will probably welcome them.

If anything, the most important difference in the distros’ selection of productivity software is that Fedora includes only free software. If its users want to use Adobe Flash or Adobe Acrobat, they have to look elsewhere, and not in the Fedora repositories. The same goes for proprietary NVidia drivers and the MP3 codec.

Its Hardware Drivers tool in the Administration menu is essentially designed for managing such proprietary exceptions.

Yet, in the name of usability, Ubuntu does provide a link to the libdvdcss2 library for viewing videos. Although, like Fedora, it declines to include the library in its repositories because of its uncertain legal status in many parts of the world.

Even when the distributions include different applications for the same function, you frequently need to be watching closely to see the difference. The most obvious example of this similarity is Fedora’s PackageKit and the Ubuntu Software Center, the tools used for the installation of software packages.

Although developed separately and arranged differently in their windows, the functionality is almost identical, so much so that a casual user is unlikely to guess that Fedora uses .RPM packages and Ubuntu .DEB packages. Although PackageKit has more options for filtering the results that are displayed, the most visible difference is the larger size of the Ubuntu Software Center’s icons, which makes the package installer superficially more user-friendly.

The default choices in the latest Ubuntu and Fedora releases are both based on a version of the GNOME desktop that represents eight years of constant evolution. Each distribution modifies the desktop, but rarely to an extent that the other cannot duplicate it with twenty minutes of adjusting features and installing software.

Another implication of GNOME’s maturity is that apparently little can be done to improve it without radical changes. True, Ubuntu’s new default theme may be more commercial than Fedora’s in that it reminds people of Windows and OS X color scheme. Yet, overall, I have trouble seeing that Ubuntu’s emphasis on usability for the past year has enhanced the GNOME desktop to any significant degree.

No doubt that is why Ubuntu’s next release will not include the GNOME Shell.

Of course, users might have other reasons for preferring either Ubuntu 10.04 or Fedora 13. For those who just want their desktop to work, the inclusion of proprietary extras might be a reason for preferring Ubuntu. Others, believing in free software ideals, might prefer Fedora’s banning of proprietary elements. Similarly, Ubuntu’s faster boot time might appeal to some, while the easy of editing with Legacy GRUB might be the deciding factor in favor of Fedora in some cases.

To devoted fans, the differences in the distros may loom large, but I suspect that the rest of us are unlikely to agree. These days, a change of desktops within a distribution is probably going to seem a more disruptive change than switching from one GNOME-based distribution to another.

Nexus 7 Vs Nexus 9 Comparison

Our Verdict

The Nexus 9 is undoubtedly better than the Nexus 7 with a more powerful 64-bit processor, better cameras and front facing stereo speakers. The screen is bigger too but there’s a drop in pixel density and an increase in price. Stand by for an update once we get our hands on the Nexus 9.

As expected, Google has announced the Nexus 9 with  Android 5.0 Lollipop and you’re probably wanting to know what different compared with the Nexus 7. Read our Nexus 7 vs Nexus 9 comparison to find out. Also see: Best tablets and Best Android tablets.

Before we get into the comparison, it’s worth pointing out that we’re comparing the new Nexus 9 with the Nexus 7 (2013) and not the original from 2012. Google also announced the  Nexus 6 and the Nexus Player.

The Nexus 9 is available to pre-order now for release on 3 November. Meanwhile, the Nexus 7 has been removed from the Google Play store but you should be able to find it at other retailers while stocks last.

The Nexus 7 costs £199 or £239 officially but now the Nexus 9 is here you can find it for less. For example, Amazon has it for £165. You’ll have to pay a bit more for the Nexus 9 as it starts at £319 and jumps to £399 for the higher capacity. if you want 4G LTE you’ll have to stump up £459.

Nexus 7 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Design

Although Asus made both versions of the Nexus 7 and HTC has built the Nexus 9, the two look quite similar in design.

The Nexus 9 is easily recognisable as a Nexus device and has a brushed metal frame running around the edge. The rear cover remains soft grip plastic and while the Nexus 7 was available in black and white, the Nexus 9 comes in a new beige/sand colour.

It’s a bigger tablet because of the screen (see below) but is a little thinner at 7.95 mm compared to 8.65 mm. It’s understandably heavier at 425 g which is up from 290 g.

Nexus 7 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Hardware


The jump is screen size is a major difference here and Google has gone from 7in to 8.9in so effectively a gain of 2in as the product names suggest. The aspect ratio moves from 16:9 to 4:3 matching the iPad range.

Resolution has gone from 1920 x 1200 to 2048 x 1536 but the screen size means that the pixel density actually drops a bit from 323ppi to 281ppi. Both use an IPS LCD panel.


Another big change is the nVidia Tegra K1 processor found in the Nexus 9 which is a 2.3 GHz 64-bit dual-core Denver chip – a nice jump from the Nexus 7’s Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro which is 1.5GHz quad-core.

Storage and wireless

Although the screen and processor are big changes, much of the Nexus 9’s specs remain the same including 2GB of RAM, 16- or 32GB of internal storage, no microSD card slot, NFC, optional 4G LTE and GPS.

Google has also fitted then Nexus 9 with a magnetometer for detecting magnetic cases.


Although we’re not too bothered about cameras on tablets this is an area with upgrades on the Nexus 9 with an 8Mp rear camera which is accompanied by an LED flash. That’s better than the Nexus 7’s 5Mp main camera with no flash. Video recording remains at up to 1080p.

At the front, things have jumped from 1.2Mp to 1.6Mp. Both of the Nexus 9 cameras use an f/2.4 aperture.

Battery life

The Nexus 7 has a 3,950 mAH battery and wireless charging and although there’s no mention of wireless charging on the Nexus 9, it has a 6700 mAh battery.

Google’s figures tout up to nine hours of video playback on the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 9 will do an extra half an hour. However, it will supposedly only cope with 9.5 hours of web browsing while the Nexus 7 can manage 10.

Nexus 7 vs Nexus 9 comparison: Software

There’s really no difference in software as although the nexus 9 will ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop, the Nexus 7 will get updated to the latest version. The only real difference is that the Nexus 9 will make full use of it with the 64-bit processor.

Specs Google Nexus 9: Specs

Android 5.0 Lollipop

8.9in IPS LCD (2048 x 1536)

nVidia Tegra K1 2.3GHz 64-bit


16/32GB storage

11ac dual-band Wi-Fi (2×2 MIMO)

Bluetooth 4.1



optional 4G LTE

HTC BoomSound stereo speakers

8Mp rear camera with LED flash

1.6Mp front camera

6700mAh battery




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