A little over a year ago, I bought a netbook. I know it was just over a year ago, because when it turned into a flat plastic doorstop a few days back, I had missed the one-year warranty by a day. “Whoah, sorry, man,” said the nerd at the computer store, who then offered to charge me more than it was worth to see if he could fix it.
Luckily, I am a super-genius computer-fixer guy, so I decided I would solve the issue myself. First, the symptoms: the Windows XP screen would come on, but then the screen would flash a blue-screen-DOS-looking message for a millisecond before going dark. The computer was running, it just wouldn’t boot. Attempts to boot it in safe mode would end with that sys.mup hangup, something Windows-oriented that I have never quite understood, despite my super-brain power.
It soon became clear that this was a Windows issue, not a hardware issue. “Just reinstall Windows from the CD,” I was told. Problem: netbooks don’t have CD drives. This one didn’t come with any disks, and I wasn’t about to shell out any more dough on this thing.
So I was resigned to the loss of my netbook, which wasn’t that big a deal; I got my two hundred bucks’ worth out of it over the year I had it. Of course, there were two episodes of Starbase 66 on it, which are now lost forever, lucky you.
But then one night I happened across a website and description of something called Jolicloud, a netbook-oriented Linux-based operating system. I have very little experience with Linux, but I figured what the hell? Nothing to lose, right?
So I went to the jolicloud.com website and downloaded two simple tools, an ISO file and a USB creator, to a USB key using our Vista PC. Then I plugged that into the netbook, used its BIOS to change the boot order, and within minutes my netbook was purring along with its new OS.
Jolicloud is an app-based OS that looks a lot like the iOS. It’s quick and net-focused, with all the software I like – Skype, Audacity, Chromium, VLC – in its “app store” and plenty more. Wine lets me run Windows software, and a nice little music player called Banshee fills in for iTunes quite well.
This thing makes my slow, cheap netbook run like my iMac. I’m more than impressed.
Jolicloud, like other Linux operating systems, is ideal for revitalizing old machines … or new, crappy ones. It can be installed alongside Windows if that’s what you’d like to do, or, as in my case, installed over top of everything.
I just wrote this on my netbook using the WordPress app, and remembered how much I hate this keyboard.