So finally I am getting down to writing the blog post about Exhibtion of Computer and Allied Products (ECAP) at Hotel Mandovi, Panjim and Software Freedom Day (SFD) at Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) that i attended the previous saturday but being in vasco for saturday till sunday afternoon, I hadn’t taken out time enough to finish the writing part of the post, while the design with the key points were definitely in place. Thankfully with my freemind, I don’t have to worry missing out on important points and making my blog posts drag on and on aimlessly. :p
Since the SFD programme was scheduled in the evening after 1700 IST, there was lot of time in the morning to check out ECAP alongwith getting some work done at the bank within the half-day schedule that I missed. Had this weird fancy of travelling all over on bus and walking a lot. ECAP was at the top floor of hotel Mandovi just like last few years. This is the 16th year, but I can’t tell how long its been held in the hotel. Some interesting products on display. Quite a few linux faces (nowadays read as Ubuntu hardy -> currently) and pretty aloof people. Y’know IT exhibitions? Your tour’s not complete if every store hasn’t stuffed your hands with oversized pamphlets. Here i got (n)one, like almost.
First up, I checked that the main area in the main hall, i dunno what’s it called, but its the stage like area, where one of the vendors, was having the biggest display area for the tiniest of gadgets, acer aspireOne. I say tiny, since there were large projection screens there last time, which looked perfect fit for that huge area. Anyways, the vendor’s the chairman of Computer Society of India – Goa Chapter (CSI – Goa). Although there were other acer laptops and desktops and acer ain’t a company that I like so much and feel sad for those who ‘paid’ to get one, Aspire One had got me interested for one unique but obvious reason, linux, and the latest ultramobile/netbook pc form factor, powered by Intel Atom.
The neat thing about the netbook is the extremely quick responsiveness. It comes with 120gb hdd and 1gb ram and compared to the prices i’d seen online for 4gb eee’s this machine at ~20k is an extremely good option, except that i don’t like acer, would like to see more of AMD products coming out too and hopefully have more distros turning out versions for this hardware. The site claims the machine gets in action within 15 seconds, now that is not so impossible, given that the hardware manufacturer is bundling the customised linux OS and totally tweaking it to be superfast. Openoffice 2.3 for example loads up almost as fast as a plain text editor. Real fast. Didn’t find any whatsoever way to get a shell. and its really interesting to know how does one disable the shell and how does one reactivate it, if no shell is available. I opened grub conf with openoffice writer 😛 and as per title field, deduced that the OS was a build of Linpus distro. According to Wikipedia, the version that comes with Acer Aspire One is called Linpus Lite. I just enjoyed going through the various menus and trying to find out what all’s possible. Given as it is, its certainly a damn useful gadget to carry around. Gives you a good reason to ‘move’ without losing connectivity. But I’d prefer not so much hdd, but neither as less as the EEE. additional storage space would be a choice and an extra cost if needed. I’d prefer a shell, peacefully dark terminal. but i guess we’re not the kind of audience this netbooks are meant for. atleast, laymen don’t need to buy really filled to the gills computer and say “i just use it for email, photos, music and surfing the web”. Their statements would be more justified from now on.
The disappointing thing was that some games like supertux, were their old versions.
Image by Rico Shen
Most other stalls, were not too interesting as they had usual form factor desktops or laptops and windows or some game going on. Fortunately this time it seems, quite a few vendors have gained confidence in ubuntu and were (implicitly but not explicitly) proud to show it off. LG, Acer and Lenovo were the main machines being sold with linux, dealer installed…not factory installed, though linpus lite on acer aspire one is an exception. But you had to see the reactions of the LG representative. The face that says “what-the-hell-am-i-doing-here-with-linux??” So totally confused and nervous. A vibe like “dammit these linux using customers know so much more than us dealers, hope they don’t get the upper hand on the deal”. He had a ubuntu laptop with nautilus open with a movie file showing up (rise of the silver surfer). i think the same filename as the one i watched 😛 So all i did was ask about whether as a dealer they are going out of their way and loading up all restricted drivers and codecs and stuff, and charging a little extra if necessary. But i asked simply, whether Linux could really play all video formats coz i was looking at a avi file being listed on the file manager. but the rep’s like “no! u gotta get legal versions of something something mutter mutter…it does not play by default” Before that I tried asking if the video drivers give good performance, coz in my experience, ati proprietory drivers, or for that matter my onboard 1250 just ain’t good enough to pump high fps with good visuals and when cpu scales down frequency on switching to battery, the video fps is substantially lagging. on a 1gb ram 1.8ghz dual core 64 bit machine with 64 bit OS. I was confused, whether I was talkin to someone just passing by and troubling, unnecessarily and I asked “Are you a visitor by any chance?” and the fella’s like “yes…no I am here to exhibit…this is our stall” pointing to the LG stall we were in.
Lenovo had also a hardy heron on display and I was told that it was the line of desktops that came with no OS by default. Nothing much to exhibit on the linux machines though. All other stalls were pretty ordinary, the computers looked better on the drab pamphlets kinda.
Time at ECAP passed by too fast, majorly coz no ILUG stuff was happening this year, and there were no familiar faces to meet, right when there were linux desktops being proudly/implicitly exhibited. I had still loads of time before starting for SFD@BITS, despite walking from bus stand till the hotel, walking up all the steps and taking 2-3 rounds of all the stalls with the curiousity of the first timer 😛 I spent a lot of time on the linpus lite machine though 🙂
Damn long post already, I think I’ll push the SFD part into a contd… post, coming up right after.