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javasirc

Anyone program on a netbook?

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Ive been thinking about buying a portable computer for going outside(since its warm out), laying on the couch, and stuff like that, while i program. All the netbook/laptop will be for is programming. And listening to music of course. I looked at a netbook at Staples and they seem a bit small for doing anything productive on. So i was wondering if anyone owns and programs, primarily, on a netbook. If so, is it tough to type or view the text editor (visual studios preferably)? Should i not bother with a netbook, and dump more money into an actual laptop? Note that it is only for programming (and of course running my 2D games).
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Blaaargh. Even my single 22 inch monitor and 2 GB RAM desktop aren't enough for the programming I do.
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I own an Eee 702, and the keyboard is one of the finger-shreddingest things you'll ever use.

You can get work done on it, but I definitely wouldn't think of it as anything close to a productive machine. The build quality is also uniformly bad across all the netbooks I've tried so far; the price requires flimsy plastics, corner-cutting construction and a lack of thermal optimization or usability consideration.

Like Promit says, I even have trouble keeping everything visible on dual 19" monitors.
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I evaluated a netbook briefly for the same purpose, and came to the conclusion that it is not very good for actual productive work that requires from moderate to high amount of human interaction (programming, arts etc).

I've found that a laptop with good display resolution and a responsive keyboard is suitable for programming in general. However, professional laptops that exhibit these characteristics are usually far more expensive than the usual "supermarket" models.
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I have an Asus W2JB, which is a great laptop, but it drives me nuts for coding. It's a 17" widescreen but I'm used to a dual 22"/17" setup so it's painfully cramped. The keyboard is probably the best I've seen on a laptop, but even still it's compact and slightly more annoying to use than a desktop keyboard. The little touchpad is, of course, the tool of Satan, so I use a wired mouse most of the time.

I thought I'd do a fair amount of programming and such from that laptop, but as it turns out I can't stand it when my real workstation is sitting in the next room. It's fine for traveling and such, but as a daily work machine... nope.


IMHO, stick with desktops for serious work. They're cheaper, more readily upgradeable, and much more conducive to heavy lifting.
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For me 13 inch laptops are the best route for (mobile) coding.

Still small enough to cary around ... but not so small that the keyboard is scaled down.


edit:
Sure it's nice to say "use a desktop" ... but when you're moving around all the time, ESPECIALLY if you're a student, mobile coding is just far too convinent to pass up.
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I'm coding a lot on my 12" hp 2730p. I do this when ever I'm programming "at the front", means, at a client.

Works great, but the 1280x800 are something to get used to :)

At home, I can work on a 24" @ 1920x1080.

But at least the keyboard on the tablet works great so I'm really fast.


Just for Info, I write software for Clubs and Bars, so "at the front" Coding is great :) drinking a Coke, fixing some bug, publish and test with the client.

Could do this all night long :) (and done so, several times :))

I'm using c# and clickonce. The Club / Bar has a Winhomeserver for backups and shared data, and an sql express database on it. The apps get deployed up there, and down to the clients. All without any hazzle :)
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I've written a hello world program in VS2008 on my Asus 1000HE :P It seems like with the right window layout and a good small programming font, regular programming wouldn't be bad at all. I definitely wouldn't try 3D game development though. Also, I actually really like the keyboard and don't feel that it's compromised at all.
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The Nvidia Ion based netbooks should support DX10 (via an integrated 9400M), but I don't know if there are any on the market as of yet.
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I have an EeePC 900, and oddly enough I find it easier to program on that than I do on the school computers. There is just something about going all the way down to such a tiny screen that just makes shrug my shoulders and accept the small screen space, where as when I just simply drop one of my 17"crts to use a single 18" LCD, I'm always looking around for more space. With the small screen I accept that I can't have everything open at once and I don't mind anymore.

I also mainly work in the console on my EeePC, as I don't have any IDEs installed on it currently.


About the biggest limiting factor is if you can actually use the keyboard. It took me a few hours to get my hands adjusted to typing on the smaller keyboard layout, but after that it wasn't too bad. Now I can switch between the two. Other people just can't make the adjustment and struggle with it, and others beyond them can't even function with them.

I don't have small hands by the way, they're fairly average size, and are often put to use in wood, stone, or metal working.


As for the build quality, I've been very happy with the EeePCs. Just get one with an Atom processor, you won't regret it. It does get a little warm (oddly enough my 900 feels got cooler when I took the underclocking off,... I haven't really found any advantage to underclocking it while not plugged in. Some sites suggest it, but I would ignore it.) but the heat isn't that bad, and is cooler than many laptops I've used. It feels strong, and because of its size, I'm not overly worried about dropping it or breaking it. Light enough to not have issues with it.
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Is the most common Atom processor equivalent to a Pentium 3 1ghz? Compilation will be much slower eh?

Most netbooks have Intel GMA 950 as gpu?

I wonder if you guys buy and install Windows or use the usually pre-installed Linux.
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I've been thinking about buying a couple of these, some USB hard drives, and using them as servers around the house.
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Quote:
Original post by Hodgman
Quote:
Original post by Ivko
I definitely wouldn't try 3D game development though.
Are there any netbooks with Shader Model 3.0 support?

Yes.

Look into Asus N10J-A1 netbook. It has hybrid graphics and lets you switch between GMA950 and NVIDIA 9300M GS 256 MB.

It also has HDMI pot, Gigabit network and Bluetooth. That's a pretty neat combo.
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Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
I've been thinking about buying a couple of these, some USB hard drives, and using them as servers around the house.


Don't bother with the netbooks then. ASUS has a similarly priced Eee Box that comes with mounting options, and a little more storage space for the cost. There are also other options for small, standard box systems anyway.
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Quote:
Original post by rumble
Is the most common Atom processor equivalent to a Pentium 3 1ghz? Compilation will be much slower eh?

Most netbooks have Intel GMA 950 as gpu?

No, the common Atom N270 is very close to a Pentium 4-M 1.8 GHz that I have, at least based on the SuperPi 2M running time.

Yes, most netbooks have GMA 950/500 as gpu, with N10J-A1 being the only exception that I know of.
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Yes, I program netbooks for a living.

Nobody in their right minds develops on a netbook. Okay, nobody with full-grown man-size hands and over-40 eyes develops on a netbook.

All our netbook development is done on regular workstations and then installed on a netbook for final testing. Since a netbook runs a regular desktop operating system, this isn't a problem.

That said, I do use netbooks for development. Since they're all running Linux, I just start an ssh server and ssh in from my workstation (Linux or Windows) and work with a full-sized keyboard and large display. I wouldn't use one as a portable development device. A netbook is not a laptop. If you want a laptop, get a laptop.
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Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
I've been thinking about buying a couple of these, some USB hard drives, and using them as servers around the house.


www.mini-box.com has the M200 and M300 which i use for servers (and cheap workstations).

i don't think you can get new hw for less than that (<200$ depending on config).
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Quote:
Original post by davepermen
Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
I've been thinking about buying a couple of these, some USB hard drives, and using them as servers around the house.


www.mini-box.com has the M200 and M300 which i use for servers (and cheap workstations).

i don't think you can get new hw for less than that (<200$ depending on config).


Holy crap those are awesome.
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Quote:
Original post by Bregma
Yes, I program netbooks for a living.

Nobody in their right minds develops on a netbook. Okay, nobody with full-grown man-size hands and over-40 eyes develops on a netbook.

All our netbook development is done on regular workstations and then installed on a netbook for final testing. Since a netbook runs a regular desktop operating system, this isn't a problem.

That said, I do use netbooks for development. Since they're all running Linux, I just start an ssh server and ssh in from my workstation (Linux or Windows) and work with a full-sized keyboard and large display. I wouldn't use one as a portable development device. A netbook is not a laptop. If you want a laptop, get a laptop.


Three cheers for completely missing the point of the thread! :P

Basically the only person that can answer the OP's question of if it is worth it to get a netbook to program on is the OP himself. Can you type on a keyboard that small? As the store clerk if you can spend half an hour or so typing on it, and check the return policy to make sure you can still take it back after a week if it isn't working out for you.

Expect to make more use of paper if you are using a system as small as a netbook. It can be easier to take notes on a pad than trying to switch back and forth between things and finding your focus on the small screen all the time.
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I got a netbook for just this reason and I'm extremely happy with my purchase. I got an Acer Aspire One 8.9" screen and the 8gb SSD option.

I put Fedora 10 (Linux) on it and I'm using code::blocks as my IDE. I'm making a 2D Isometric RPG style game (blog.turt99.com)

You have to scroll a lot and optimize screen resources by turning off all extra display options. (ie. Compile Output is not needed unless you just compiled and it failed).

Its small yes, but its there when your ready to program.
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Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
Quote:
Original post by davepermen
Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
I've been thinking about buying a couple of these, some USB hard drives, and using them as servers around the house.


www.mini-box.com has the M200 and M300 which i use for servers (and cheap workstations).

i don't think you can get new hw for less than that (<200$ depending on config).


Holy crap those are awesome.
You might also be interested in the Buffalo Kurobox, which can be had for $160 or less.
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I use a 17" laptop as my primary computer. It's wonderful. A Dell E1705. (4 years old). I'd recommend if your going to be programming just buy a nice 17" laptop that you can carry around and such.

You can get dual 9800 graphics cards in one so you should be fine. I don't upgrade computers so it works out well. If you're one of those people that runs out to grab the newest video card and newest processor and such then a laptop might not be for you.
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Quote:
I wonder if you guys buy and install Windows or use the usually pre-installed Linux.

I'm using Windows 7 on mine. I think not many of them come with Linux nowadays; the trend is toward Windows XP. I think Microsoft made it quite cheap for them to do that a while ago (like $30 or so).

The keyboards vary quite a bit from one netbook to another. My 10" is big for a netbook and the keyboard size and quality is great. Obviously a 7" one will be tougher to type on, and 9" ones might be uncomfortable for some. Even within the same size class (like 9"), keyboard sizes can vary a fair bit.

Quote:
There is just something about going all the way down to such a tiny screen that just makes shrug my shoulders and accept the small screen space, where as when I just simply drop one of my 17"crts to use a single 18" LCD, I'm always looking around for more space. With the small screen I accept that I can't have everything open at once and I don't mind anymore.

I agree with that. On my desktop, 24" is finally big enough that I feel comfortable with the size. A laptop or 17-19" LCD seems too small to me and I've always complained to friends that I wouldn't want a laptop partially because the screen is too small. But surprisingly, I've had few issues with the netbook resolution.
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Quote:
Original post by Ravuya
Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
Quote:
Original post by davepermen
Quote:
Original post by capn_midnight
I've been thinking about buying a couple of these, some USB hard drives, and using them as servers around the house.


www.mini-box.com has the M200 and M300 which i use for servers (and cheap workstations).

i don't think you can get new hw for less than that (<200$ depending on config).


Holy crap those are awesome.
You might also be interested in the Buffalo Kurobox, which can be had for $160 or less.


for the 20$ or so, it's quite a bit less performance. the mini-boxes are used as full workstations with vista on it, or home servers installed. i don't want to try this on the arm.
but for linux fans, it may be enough (still investing a bit more into atoms with up to 4 hyperthreads and 2 cores doesn't hurt.. espencially for smaller servers)




btw: while i haven't programmed on the asus eee 900 of my gf, i actually tried djing with traktor on it. the display, while small, is impressively good to look at, it's quite nice to dj with it. the only thing was really slow track loading times due to the slow ssd-flash-thingens. so yeah, while the screen is quite small and lowres, it is quite nice to work with. (and i'm still impressed that a celeron can dj :))
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