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So, Santa Claus Brought You a Netbook?

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Like some of you, I woke up on Christmas morning to find that Santa had left me a netbook under the tree.  A black ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA with a 10.1-inch screen, to be precise. So now I get to add outfitting my new netbook to my burgeoning list of end-of-year personal and professional projects.

I’d been following the growth and innovations in the netbook market over the past year or so, so I am really looking forward to diving into this new platform and fitting it into my current home office menagerie of Windows, Macintosh and Linux machines.

Outfitting My New Netbook

My first step was to delete all the trialware, including Microsoft Office 2007 Student and Teacher Edition (s msft), from the machine. My netbook runs Windows 7 Starter Edition (although I see the Google Chrome Operating System (s goog) in its future) so it’s picked up a certain bad habit that seems to common to all new Windows OS machines: an over-abundance of trialware. I recommend you do the same as me and delete aany trialware from your new netbook so you can start off with the machine as pristine as possible.

For this machine, I made the choice to run only free or open-source software on it — no Microsoft Office, no MindJet MindManager, no OneNote, and not even subscription-based antivirus software. So after deleting much of the trialware from the netbook, I downloaded Google Pack, which is the installer for the major Google desktop applications, to get the party started. Here are some of my additional software suggestions for outfitting your new netbook:

  • Evernote. I’ve written about Evernote in the past (here and here) and use it frequently through the course of my writing and consulting work so it is must have install on my new netbook.
  • Google Chrome.This is going to be my primary browser on the machine. At least initially, I plan to go without Firefox. It comes as part of the Google Pack.
  • Google Apps. The Google Pack lets you install desktop shortcuts to Google Calendar (Celine offers GCal tips here), Google Docs and Gmail, my office suite and email apps of choice for my new netbook.
  • Pidgin. I have clients and colleagues who make frequent use of instant messaging (IM). This multi-protocol IM client is my choice for the Windows platform.
  • Dropbox. After reading Scott’s Dropbox post, I was sold on Dropbox and became a user. While I recently upgraded my Dropbox account, you can still get a 2 GB account for free.
  • Jing. Screen captures are a big part of my work. Jing (covered by Doriano) is free and I’ll be using it frequently.
  • Anti-virus/Anti-spyware. For the time being, I am going with Google Pack’s anti-virus/anti-spyware software.

Securing Your New Netbook

Lastly, after setting up the netbook, don’t forget to secure it. All cynicism and jokes about Windows security aside, make sure your antivirus software of choice is functional and go into Windows 7 System Security settings and check that your network firewall, virus protection, and spyware protection is on.

For more information about where netbooks are headed, check out the special report “The Future of Netbooks” over on GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Did you receive a new netbook for Christmas? How are you outfitting it?

9 Responses to “So, Santa Claus Brought You a Netbook?”

  1. I love the fact that you’re sticking with free software.

    I love these netbooks. I can’t wait until SSDs come down in price and I can’t wait for browsers and web apps to mature more so I can eliminate some software in favor of web-based versions.

  2. I’ve also got Acer Aspire with 6 cell battery, 2 GB ram and running windows 7.

    I’ve disabled all unnecessary services and all radios except wifi are usually off.

    Still, I’m just getting 1.5 hours max from my netbook.

    Can’t figure out what’s wrong.

  3. Nice post. If you only have a 3 cell battery, strongly recommend getting the six cell.

    To get longer battery life, you may want to disable google desktop, unnecessary system services, wifi, bluetooth and virus scan while traveling. I can get over 6 hours on my acer aspire running win xp.

  4. Perfect! I was just about to do a similar write-up (for the throngs of relatives, coworkers, and old friends that come out of the woodwork every year about this time to ask the same questions).

    I’d done the same thing a couple of years ago ( ); but it’s exciting to see how the field has improved since then. For instance, we all are doing a lot more ‘in the cloud’ now; and the only thing I am dismayed at is how far behind Pidgin is when compared to the cleaner, less clumsy interface of Adium (a similar tool available for Mac OSX users).

    For my next trick, I’m going to hope to turn a higher-res HP mini (the 5101 looks nice) into a Hackintosh — but along with the self-imposed open-source-only rule, I’ll probably include Adobe’s Illustrator (wish they made an ‘Elements’ version), as it’s the only thing I haven’t been able to replace with free software yet (and yes, I’ve tried the lot of vector apps listed on SourceForge).

    In fact, if it weren’t for my need of Illustrator, I’d be looking at an easier install overall — because I could go with Linux instead of the Mac OS.

  5. You’re lucky that Santa brought you the 1005HA. I’ve had mine for a few months now and I absolutely love it.

    One tip: Not sure how much RAM it came with, but you can install 2GB yourself pretty easily. RAM is cheap too and will add to the 1005HA’s usability.