There will be no more testing of Linux distributions on Nokia’s new netbook. There’s no point, really, as the Booklet 3G has a fatal flaw that prevents it from running the best desktop and netbook operating systems out there.
That flaw is the Intel GMA 500 graphics chip.
How the Linux community feels about the GMA 500 can be summed up in these two posts:
- How To Kick Your Friends in the Face: GMA500
- Intel GMA 500 (Poulsbo) graphics on Linux: a precise and comprehensive summary as to why you’re screwed
And perhaps the biggest condemnation of the GMA 500 comes from its very maker; Intel’s own Moblin project doesn’t support it.
Having the GMA 500 onboard the Nokia Booklet means that it cannot run most Linux distributions in its native screen resolution of 1280×720. This includes all but one of the distros that have driven the netbook revolution to date:
And many more…
That Jolicloud works with the GMA 500 is no small feat; as I wrote yesterday it required an almost Herculean effort to make that happen. If you can get a 3G data connection with your SIM card (I couldn’t), then Jolicloud is definitely your best bet for the Booklet.
To be fair, I highly doubt that Nokia specifically sought out the awful GMA 500 for their netbook. This is but one of many cautionary tales on the dangers of outsourcing components. Company outsources chips to save money, supplier provides chips but not source code for drivers, Linux community suffers. Lather, rinse and repeat.
It’s a shame, really, because the Booklet is otherwise a great little machine. The chiclet keyboard is quite comfortable to type on, the broadband modem & HDMI port are nice extras and the mostly-aluminum body plus the glossy lid make the Booklet worthy of the same Eseries moniker reserved for Nokia’s best-built handsets. You could even make the case that the Booklet is the netbook that Apple never built.
But the inescapable truth is that the GMA 500 will forever keep this Nokia from the pantheon of revolutionary netbooks. If you’re looking for a netbook that loves Linux, the Booklet ain’t it.