During last week, expecting new Ubuntu 904 to appear shortly, I cleared the partition where my Ubuntu 810 used to reside, and played a bit with various alternatives. I installed and tried in quick succession OpenSolaris 906, Ubuntu low power MID edition, Ubuntu netbook edition, Moblin Alpha 2.
Disclaimer! This is a rant that do not in any way intend to claim to be the ultimate truth. I am only using Linux for half a year. While I feel comfortable digging through forums to enable support for various network and graphics hardware when I have free time to do this, I feel that at the moments it is not worth it. E.g. spending couple of nights to get Linux drivers working, costs me more than buying a Windows license. Having said that, I still enjoy Linux in a freaky kind of the way, treating it as a brain muscle stretching Lego for adults, and enjoying the process whenever time allows it.
OpenSolaris is interesting alternative to other Linux distributions, but not for a netbook. While I spent couple of days last year customizing Ubuntu 810 to work with all my hardware in eeepc 1000h. I do not feel like I want to spend such time again, since Ubuntu 904 supports all of it out-of-the-box. And I do not feel like I need ZFS on netbook. Its benefits are in ease of use of multi-disk storage, and all netbooks have only one disk.
Various Ubuntu derivatives – Netbook edition and lowpower MID edition. Netbook edition could be useful for touch enabled netbooks. Larger icons that make it easier to navigate with big fat fingertips. You do not need it on non-touch device. As to the the low-power MID edition - I had problems using it. It has increased fonts and icons, and after that, does not fit 1024x600. I wonder what kind of display they had in mind developing it.
Ubuntu 904. Loads quite fast (I use new ext4 file system) and supports all hardware features of eeepc 1000h. Compiz is still the best eyecandy you can get. Recommended.
Moblin – still in a hardcore alpha stage. Promising. Not recommended.
Windows 7 – RC (builds 7077 and 7100) are very stable. If you want to do any light gaming, or connect with Microsoft exchange or some other MS only corporate services, or comfortably play 720p videos (1080p still out of question) then you have to get Windows 7.
Conclusion – for web browsing and document editing, watching movies and taking notes, ease of setup and use – Ubuntu 904 finally matches Windows. I like eye candy of Ubuntu more, but Windows still feels speedier to use. I am going to multiboot Ubuntu 904, Windows 7, and OSX on my laptop.