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Linux-Based Cell Phone Netbook Dream Machine

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I don't like cell phones for two reasons: in the US the services cost too much and have too many restrictions, and cell phone users are annoying. Running around yakking non-stop like teenagers, blaring gawdawful tinny ringtones at maximum volume, and just try to hold a face-to-face conversation-- it's a constant battle to keep their attention because they just HAVE to read their text messages NOW, and take calls, and put people on hold until everyone they know is lined up waiting. They're worse than parents with young children.

Another sticking point is having to lug multiple gadgets around when I travel. I used to want something like a Toshiba Libretto because it was close to the perfect size. But it had three drawbacks: too expensive, an uncomfortable keyboard, and no integrated mobile phone. Now in this excellent new netbook era, I think my dream machine is finally at hand.

iPhone? Don't make me laugh. The Windows platform is open-breezy and liberated compare to Apple. Anyway I never liked one-button mice, and one-finger interfaces aren't any better.

Blackberry and other smartphones? Close, but not quite close enough-- tiny screens and keyboards, and too inflexible. I want a real computer that I can monkey with all I want.

Nice Inexpensive Linux Netbooks That Do Everything

Linux on netbooks is such a natural pairing that it would take all the resources and talents of big corporations to screw it up. Which they have done. Is there even one OEM Linux netbook where Linux isn't mangled and crippled beyond recognition? Yes, actually there are a few. Dell's Inspiron 15n comes with Ubuntu, and LinuxCertified gives you a choice of several popular Linux distributions. (I'll post a roundup of good Linux netbooks later this week.)

It does not speak well of the industry that so many Linux netbooks ship with major defects and pointless, broken customizations. What's so hard about it, anyway? Any moderately-experienced Linux user can easily customize Linux however they like; there are all kinds of excellent, easy utilities to do this. All the vendor has to do is make sure of a reasonable package selection and that all of the hardware works.

But, as usual, I digress. A mobile phone-enabled netbook is my dream machine. 3G is miraculous; it marks the end of the endless hunt-for-a-wireless-portal. A 10" screen is plenty big enough to do real work and is easily luggable. Throw in a Bluetooth phone headset and I'm ready to hit the road; all I need is a table in a quiet corner and I'm ready to go to work. I have absolutely zero need or desire to walk and yak on the phone, or drive and yak on the phone, or sit in restaurants and yak on the phone, or go to movies and concerts and yak on the phone. I'm quite comfortable leaving the whole works at home. I don't mean to induce insecurity and terror in anyone, but it is possible to go naked and not carry a phone at all.

A real Linux computer offers up endless options. Suppose I don't want to pay for 3G service? No problem, ordinary wifi is fine, though a bit more trouble, and I can set up VoIP for free. Using any standard Linux distribution is the way to go; then you have access to the distro repositories and thousands of applications, and all of the flexibility and power of a real Linux, instead of a mangled, non-functional excuse of a Linux.

I'm going to wait a little longer because I want that perfect trifecta: 3G-capable, long battery life, and low price tag, which to me means under $400. And maybe even one of these newfangled non-Intel CPUs that Windows won't work on, and probably never will. Not only because I don't care for Windows, but because they promise better efficiency, performance and low power consumption. And more choice in the marketplace.

Come back Thursday for a Linux-netbook-3G roundup.

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