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[SLUG] Kogan Agora Laptop Better with Classic Interface and Flash Disk
- To: slug <slug@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: [SLUG] Kogan Agora Laptop Better with Classic Interface and Flash Disk
- From: Tom Worthington <tom.worthington@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 10:07:02 +1000
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On 04/06/11 11:49, I wrote (was: "Kogan Laptop With Google Chromium OS"):
... I have ordered the Kogan Agora Pro laptop...
On 10 June I took delivery of a Kogan Agora PRO 12" Ultra Portable
The minimalist on-line store and the minimalist packaging impressed me
almost as much as the modest design of the hardware. Kogan's business
and products have been pared down to give the customer what they want
and no more. In this case a very plain cardboard box with a very generic
looking black laptop, with a generic version of Linux on it.
The lightweight laptop form provides a 11.6 inch screen and a good size
keyboard, sufficient for a days work, but small enough to fit in a bag
with a pad of A4 paper. The LED back-light screen is very readable. This
would make a good laptop for a student, if a few battery and interface
problems could be fixed.
My favorable impressions of the hardware changed when I discovered the
battery only lasted about 2 hours, much less than the claimed 3.5 hours.
However, more of a problem was the new "Unity" interface of the Ubuntu
Linux software installed.
Unity attempts to provide an interface which makes maximum use of the
limited space on a netbook screen. However, the Kogan has a relatively
large 11.6 inch screen and so does not need a compact interface. Also
the way the interface saves space is to strip off the borders around
windows, the titles and menu bars from them. This has not been
implemented consistently across the applications which make up Linux.
Even applications which are provided by default with Ubuntu had
problems. The "Evolution" email package's setup menus did not work
correctly: clicking on one icon actives the icon below it and attempting
to click on a button instead causes the window to scroll.
I was ready to send the laptop back for a refund when one of my
colleagues suggested switching back to the Ubuntu classic (no effects)
user interface. This can be done from the login screen, without changing
software. It transformed my experience of the laptop. The borders and
menus reappeared around windows and the menu items I clicked on
activated. The responsiveness of the machine improved noticeably. Also
the battery life increased by 45 minutes, due to the interface not
making intensive use of graphics, for effects such as translucent menus.
While the menus in "Evolution" now worked, it still did some strange
things and I decided to switch to the simpler Mozilla Thunderbird email
The laptop still has limitations, the major one being the limited
battery life (now 2 hours and 45 minutes and less than the claimed 3
hours and 30 minutes). I tried a number of other Linux power saving
tips, but most of these seem to have already been incorporated into the
newest versions of Linux.
One option left to consider is a flash Laptop Solid State Drive. The
flash drive will save a little power when running, but more importantly
would allow the laptop to be switched off more often, as it can be
switched on more quickly.
Ironically, a cheaper model of the Agora is offered with a 30 GB solid
state drive. But this has only 1 GB of RAM and comes with the Google
Chromium OS. I did not want to have to install a different operating
system and more RAM myself, but in retrospect, that would have been
easier than the changes I have to make to get Ubuntu to work properly.
More in my blog at:
Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra