Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love my Ubuntu Netbook

Amazon has made a kind of a silent success with the Kindle reading tablet.  Apple has got a lot of publicity for its music distribution system, but the Kindle is a bit more anonymous.  

What I did not know until a coworker told me the other day was that Amazon also distribute the Kindle reader as an application for iPod/Pad, Mac, Android and Windows.  In effect, what Apple did for music distribution, Amazon has done for books.

The service is really fascinating. has, at the time of writing, 580,208 titles in the Kindle eBooks store.  There are 6,091 titles published the last 30 days alone, of all kinds: "How to write a sentence: And how to read one", "The Day After the Dollar Crashes: A survival guide for the New World Order" and "Two to love [nights in bliss]" all listed in sequence if you wish.  It's like a kind of treasure hunt in an old book store, the only difference being these are new titles!

When you find a book that seems interesting, you can download a sample (the first few chapters) and read a bit, just like in a real bookstore.  The only difference is that you can be anywhere; on the train, bus, airport or the beach.  Never again a day with no book to read!

Sadly, both Apple and Amazon have chosen to ignore users of Linux.  But there is a difference:  Using Wine it is possible to run a lot of windows applications on Linux, and while iTunes runs badly in Wine (if at all), the Kindle reader flows like a breeze on even a slow netbook.  And when we talk about books, a netbook is really the second best thing after a real kindle tablet....

After getting a preview or buying a book, it is synchronized to your home folder in the Kindle reader.  

Lyra, my MSI Wind Notebook, is running Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition.  It's a tiny 10" 1 kg thing, not very fast, but each time I try to put it away on the shelf to use a more powerful computer I find myself returning to it in within a week.  Its just so functional when it comes to surf, email and write on that I can't seem to live without it.  And I am sure that Kindle will make it even more indispensable.

Amazon has made a very functional GUI.  When you are reading, you can put the book up on full screen, so that nothing else disturbs the mind.  Instead of scrolling you turn the pages one after another, and that really makes for easy reading.

There is one major difference between iTunes and the Kindle book store:  While Apple has abandoned their copy-protection scheme, Kindle books are only usable on readers connected to your Amazon account.  There seems to be ways to break this scheme, but I guess it's not really worth it.  With books selling for less than US10, it's less than half the price of buying the same soft-cover book in Norway.

I am now starting on chapter 5 of "Eat, Pray, Love", the first eBook I have purchased on Amazon.  (Btw, the literal Norwegian translation of the title is "Eat, Love, Live"; I suppose Pray is not really as catchy here in Europe as it is in the US.)  Anyway, Lyra and me will hit the sack really soon now; I think I want at least one chapter before I close my eyes:-)


Anonymous said...

I have been trying to load the kindle reader onto my netbook using wine. I get the reader loaded, however it will not open. I have and eee Ausus 1005 netbook. Do you have a procedure that you might share?

Thanks. Chief

Cristopher Lefavre said...

Hi Lee,

I installed the latest beta of wine, instead of the release version that comes as standard with Ubuntu. I can't remember if that was crucial for the Kindle reader app, but it worked wonders with iTunes.

Check this link:

My netbook lyra is an MSI Wind U100 with 2 GB RAM running Ubuntu 10.04 btw.

Good luck with the reader!