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.

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