Not being the kind of person who would buy a netbook, I hadn’t really paid much attention to Moblin, Intel & Novell’s new netbook-targetted, Linux based operating system. However, Matt Asay posted about it today and that got me looking at it, and I have to say I’m very impressed.
I love that they’ve tried to rethink the operating system interface from the ground up rather than just follow in the footsteps of previous efforts. One of the reasons desktop Linux distros have never made much of an impression on me is that I often just feel like I’m using a slightly more technically-oriented facsimile of Windows, which is ok but tends to be more demanding of my time; in comparison the Mac gives me a usability boost and saves me time over using Windows, as well as having a solid back-end, and that’s why I like it. People need a reason to use alternatives to Windows, and just reproducing the user experience isn’t enough. I had assumed that Moblin would be another ‘typical’ desktop Linux in the usual vein, but they’ve done something much more interesting; a completely new interface designed around common usage patterns.
I’m not sure how it would be to use (I’d need to actually play with one, and I don’t intend to buy a netbook any time soon), but it certainly looks good, and I completely applaud their initiative. It’s about time more people experimented with usability like this rather than unquestioningly sticking to boring old operating system interface ‘standards’.