Feb 29, 2008

Feeling the heat, aren't we?

This is just soooo good:
...the senior vice president of Sony's IT product division said the tiny $299 notebook could potentially shift the entire notebook industry. ... "If (the EEE PC from) Asus starts to do well, we are all in trouble. That's just a race to the bottom," said Mike Abary.
About time. All those monsters that are being produced by Dell, Sony, HP and others — aren't really worth the price tag. As expected, an average user can mighty well survive with a much simpler and lighter machine. EEE may by far not be for everyone, but the trend is well spotted and it is similar to the one so well pointed by Gruber when he talks about Mini vs. real iPod: users don't necessarily need all of those super features, they are likely to be fine without them.

Feb 24, 2008

Ubuntification of EEE

There are very many posts all over the web on how to replace EEE's somewhat limiting Xandros distribution with Ubuntu. To be fair, I think that default install with Xandros should be a plenty for most EEE users. Then again, if an "average" EEE user is somewhat geeky -- it might not be. I was somewhat wary at first, even despite the fact that I am not new to Linux, Debian in particular. On a surface, Xandros lets you do enough. And being Debian-based, it allows one to expand it (almost) to one's liking. Yet despite some fair efforts being put in by Asus engineers in making a good entry-level Linux ultra-portable machine, it still feels limited. Top it off with irritatingly XP-esque look of KDE/IceWM theme used by Asus -- that may have really been what tipped me over the edge. I thought I'd take this in smaller steps -- a USB stick first, maybe an SD card, only after that -- a full replacement. Yet I guess at some point Ubuntu installer managed to mess up Xandros MBR and I could ot but straight away. "Bridges burned," I said to myself and Ubuntu landed on internal SSD of black 4G EEE. Here's what I can say now, after a couple of days with Ubuntu and EEE:
  • Xandros for EEE has really been slimmed down quite a bit. I'm going to try and see how much more ft I can trim off my installation, but at some point df(1) was showing 92% utilization of /dev/sda1. I killed OOo and Evoution, a bunch of other stuff -- I barely managed to go below 75% (but to be fair I've also installed a few heavy pieces like Gcompris, TuxPaint and TuxRacer).
  • I never managed to get it on an SD card. Mine is Trident SDHC 8G. Maybe I'd have better luck with A-Data or a smaller capacity SD. I gave up after 2-3 days of trying.
  • I don't like GRUB. I know it is great, but there's a kind of black magic I don't understand about it and have no longer any will to understand/figure out. Call me old fart.
  • SD reader seems to always end up last device on the list -- which means that you jut can't rely on it being /dev/sdb -- once you insert a USB stick, it may end up /dev/sdc. Or /dev/sdd. Or whatever. This may well be the reason why I was unable to get Ubuntu to install and boot off it.
  • Default theme of Ubuntu is nice, but on an EEE too much space gets wasted. When you have a 800x480 screen it really sucks when open file dialog does not fit your screen.
  • What sucks even more is when XUL-based interfaces start fitting inside the screen and are, effectively, loosing buttons.
I'll be looking further for ways to improve my Ubuntu EEEexperience and will let you know. NB: I used EeeBuntu installation. I have not tried EeeXubuntu or Ubuntu-eee.

Feb 17, 2008

(One of very many) Praising posts about EEE

Have you heard about eeevolution? No? Then you are missing out big time. The little DVD box sized machine that pretty much does everything that your average HP/Dell/Sony spiffy new laptop does but at a fraction o weight and cost. It is a marvel, not to be missed out. It is XO for the rest of us (or for those who want a more expandable hardware).

I've had mine for a few days now. I never regret $500 I paid for this little bastard. Sure, its keyboard is cramped and Xandros is not my favorite Linux distro. Sure, it warms quite a bit and I sort of thought it may run longer on the battery it has. And certainly it'd be nice to also have a GPS, a Bluetooth adapter and an 802.11n wifi adapter in it. But even with the current spec it's great for the road, for a subway, for a couch.