MeeGo is an Intel-sponsored Linux distribution designed for netbooks
- Excellent interface for netbooks, feels relatively snappy
- Some networking and interface niggles
It's still relatively early days for MeeGo, but, judging from this release, we suspect this Linux distribution has a great future ahead of it
MeeGo is an Intel-sponsored Linux distribution designed for netbooks and other mobile devices (such as Nokia's extra-geeky N900 smartphone). We tested MeeGo on a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook and were extremely impressed; we think it's seriously worth giving it a try on your mini-notebook, and maybe ditching Windows or a "normal" Linux distribution.
Most Linux distributions these days offer standard Gnome or KDE desktop environments (though some, such as Mythbuntu, employ the lightweight Xfce system, and of course there are numerous distributions that use a completely different graphical user interface, or are command line–based). MeeGo, however, has taken a completely different tack, and done so with considerable success.
MeeGo is a product of Intel's Moblin project and Nokia's Maemo operating system, and it has inherited the former's interface — at least in its netbook incarnation. An interface is also available for smartphone-type devices.
MeeGo has a tabbed interface, and Google Chrome is the default Web browser.
The main MeeGo interface lacks a classic desktop. Instead, there is a row of 10 icons across the top of the screen that works like a series of tabbed windows in a Web browser. The Applications tab lets you run whatever programs you like; open applications then show up in the Zones tab, letting you easily switch between them. The applications installed by default include most of the fare you'd expect from a Linux distribution, though Chrome is the default Web browser and no office suite is installed. An Internet tab lets you manage browser windows easily, as well as quickly look through bookmarks. The Media tab lets you access music and videos. The Status tab allows you to monitor Web services (only Twitter and Last.FM in the default install), while the People tab is home to instant messenger conversations. The Devices tab provides access to hardware information and settings, as well as the key folders like Documents and Downloads.
Instant messaging in MeeGo.
The MyZone home tab offers quick links to applications, updates from Web services (such as Twitter), links to recently used files, and access to a calendar and task lists.
We were in love with the interface from the very beginning: for a netbook with minimal screen real estate (1024x600) and limited RAM (1GB) and processing power (Intel Atom N450), it makes so much sense to ditch the classic desktop metaphor. We would much rather deal with the large, colourful icons of MeeGo than the Windows 7 interface for most tasks. The interface was generally snappy, although we would periodically be left waiting when switching to a new tab, for example. It never got to be too frustrating, however, though you should exercise the same restraint in terms of multitasking, media encoding and other taxing tasks that you would in any other operating system running on a netbook.
MeeGo's Zones tab shows applications that are currently running .
The application repositories the distribution uses by default don't include OpenOffice.org. However, we installed AbiWord (word processing) and Gnumeric (spreadsheet) easily enough; we've always generally preferred these apps to OpenOffice.org anyway.
Package management is RPM-based. In general, we're fonder of the APT system used by Debian and its derivatives (such as Ubuntu) but unless you intend to mess around at the command line, the GUI-based package management tool will make it transparent. (Our reservations about RPM probably relate to the earlier, pre-YUM days of dependency hell. Oh the pain.)
If you're interested in getting geeky, there is a single virtual terminal running (accessed via Ctrl + Alt + F1), or you can just run a terminal in the GUI. Running uname -r from the command line gives the kernel version as 126.96.36.199-11.1-netbook.
Basic installation of MeeGo is extremely simple and quick — except, as is sometimes the case with Linux, for getting all your devices working. Using a Sony Microvault USB drive, we were able to install the OS in under five minutes using the default partitioning scheme. Basic post-install setup (creating a user account, selecting a time zone etc.) took about a minute.
One of MeeGo's quirky installation screens. Feel free to admire the author's spongy Tux penguin toy.
Our only problem came afterwards, when we needed to get Wi-Fi working (wired networking was fine). We got the Lenovo S10's Broadcom Wi-Fi adapter working thanks to instructions from MeeGo 1.0 Wi-Fi; the instructions are easy to follow, but obviously it's still a hassle to set up.
Overall we were very impressed with MeeGo 1.0. There are a few interface niggles — some applications didn't fit correctly on screen, and after closing a program or a dialogue we'd end up on a tab we didn't expect to be on — but we didn't encounter any showstoppers. Each time we rebooted we had to switch Wi-Fi off and on again in the Networks tab, despite the details of our network being remembered. MP3 support is another annoyance: like most Linux distributions, MP3 decoding is not supported "out of the box", and it's more difficult than normal to install (see this thread on the MeeGo discussion forums).
Getting MP3s playing in MeeGo is currently a little difficult.
According to Ars Technica, Novell, Mandriva and others are planning to create their own MeeGo-based operating systems. We think that this development has great potential and are looking to see what vendors can do with MeeGo.
In conclusion, if you have a netbook that's supported by MeeGo, whether you're currently running Linux or Windows, give some serious thought to running this operating system. We tried it, and we love it.
Become a fan of PC World Australia on Facebook
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Huawei Mate 9
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 3 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 4 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 5 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
Latest News Articles
- LastPass is scrambling to fix another serious vulnerability
- New Google Home partnerships expand the smart speaker’s footprint in the smart home
- If Google Assistant isn't your thing, you can now talk to Cortana on the lock screen
- Razer’s updated Blade Pro is the first ever THX-certified laptop
- 10 powerful, obscure Windows keyboard shortcuts you should know
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- Subaru XV 2017 review
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- FTKey Account ManagerVIC
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- CCApplication Architect - CloudVIC
- FTDatabase DeveloperACT
- TPProject Manager - Digital Banking ProjectQLD
- FTFinancial ERP Customer - Solution Consultant / System AccountantNSW
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW
- CCSenior Teradata Developer/Analyst Programmer - Financial - Contract - ParramattaNSW
- FTBusiness Analyst (BI / Analytics)NSW
- TPProject Support Officer - Data and Information ManagementVIC
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!WA
- CCTechnical Business Analyst (Security) - Finance - Contract - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTCloud Infrastructure Specialist - Azure/AWSNSW
- FTC# / ASP.NET DeveloperSA
- FTSenior .Net Developer (Silverlight)VIC
- FTJava DeveloperWA
- FTDesign Specialist - TelecomNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistNSW
- FTChief Architect - Principal ArchitectVIC
- CCNetwork Security Engineer - Finance - Contract - SydneyNSW
- CCDevOps Engineer - TelcoVIC
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistACT
- CCHyperion SpecialistQLD