Look and listen: Moblin’s built-in media player worked extremely well in our tests.
The Moblin V2 user interface is built on Clutter, an open-source software library that provides easy access to several Web services. This means that it’s possible to update your Twitter status or send instant messages directly from the desktop. Moblin also has a browser built on Google Chrome, plus a rudimentary music, photo, and video player.
The user interface still needs some work, though. One glitch is that, whenever a tool with a data-entry field was started, the cursor did not automatically move to that field–the user had to click it first. The Web browser also crashed repeatedly on all three systems and could not process a script in Gmail, which would sometimes cause an all-out system failure. On the Acer AspireOne, there was another problem: the netbook just could not resume after going into a sleep state. The screen would flash and appear for a moment but then go blank again.
The desktop shows a network icon in a drop-down task bar so that a user can select between a wired or wireless network connection. For some reason, Moblin did not support Wi-Fi on the Lenovo S10. (Intel says that the company is investigating the matter.) None of the Moblin installs on the three systems could recognize its built-in webcam, but audio, photo, and video playback worked flawlessly on all three systems.
Moblin supports a data-sync service; you can use Funambol, Memotoo, ScheduleWorld, or Synthesis to back up data, sync your calendar, and store contacts. Moblin V2 beta also includes three simple games (none of which use 3-D graphics), a calculator, a file browser, a terminal app, and a text editor.
There are a few oddities that might surprise Windows users. For example, in Moblin you can’t just minimize a window. Instead, a user has to move apps to “zones” and switch between them.
But despite a few quirks and issues, the beta shows great promise. It’s extremely fast, and it’s one of the most up-to-date Linux distributions out there. It’s certainly a good match for the netbook market, and it could yet become a popular OS.