Well, I did it. I bought one. I joined the millions who already own an Asus Eee PC. I must say that I am impressed with this little cub of a laptop. I wasn’t sure what I was purchasing since I hadn’t seen one in “real life” before. I felt like I was taking a risk. Although, when I opened the box and flipped it on for the first time I was surprised at how useful it really is.
I’m not really a big laptop user actually. I have a full size laptop but honestly I rarely ever turn it on. I use it mostly for testing distros. The last major thing that I did with it was make the original Screencasters website over year ago. Why I chose to do it on my laptop I’m really not sure. Just remember sitting at the kitchen table hammering out the html and css code. I’m mostly behind my desktop these days. Rightly so since I’m most productive on it.
So why did I buy a new laptop then? Well, I told myself that I wanted something small to bring to the Ohio LinuxFest in October. I didn’t want to lug around my beastly 9-10 pound laptop that has ultra shitty battery life. That’s what’s nice about the Eee PC…it’s size. It’s about the size of a book and it fits easily in my messenger bag. Battery life is so so. I think I get about 2-1/2 or something. I haven’t timed it so it’s a guess. I can probably make that go a little longer by turning down the LCD brightness. Even so, the battery life is fine with me. Plus, it hibernates pretty well when the lid is closed.
Anyway, I was pretty surprised by how polished Xandros was on the Eee PC. Initially it has an easy desktop mode that is laid out pretty well. I was able to hop on my wifi connection rather easily too. Everything that Linux users are accustomed to on the average desktop distro are available. Even though you can use this as a regular laptop I’ll probably stick to cloud computing on it. Internet, Email, and SSH is what I’ll use the most.
With just a small hack I was able to get to the full KDE desktop too. That felt a little more like home to me. On the other hand, the easy desktop mode was just as useful. However, after using it for a couple of hours I noticed that some of the packages were pretty old. Firefox, for example, was a 2.0 release. 🙁 I didn’t very much like that. I wanted release 3.0. After a little research I decided that I was going to have to do a bit of hacking to get the latest version of Firefox. Also, I discovered that the Xandros repos were a little bare. That is why I decided to bite the bullet and give Ubuntu Eee a try. After listening to the last The Linux Link Tech Show guys go on about it, I figured that it might just work well enough for me too.
I wiped the hard drive by blowing out the 4gb recovery partition allowing me to have my full 16gb of hard drive space. The Eee PC comes with a Xandros recovery DVD so it wasn’t like I couldn’t put it back on if I needed to. It took about 30 minutes to get Ubuntu installed, not counting the 10-15 minutes that it took me to prepare my 2gb flash drive with the Ubuntu Eee ISO so that I could boot from it (the Eee PC does not have a CD-ROM so everything must go onto an external flash drive). Once I got Ubuntu installed everything just felt right. After I got the initial 200+ updates/patches and applied a few tweaks I had a beautifully working OS. Which, by the way, the Ubuntu Eee website is awesome. Lots of helpful information.
Bottom line…I love my new laptop. There are many different Eee PC models to choose from. I got the slower 900 but for $400 from TigerDirect it seemed like a pretty good deal and it’s plenty fast enough for me. It even runs compiz well (which I don’t run). I highly recommend it. You won’t be sorry. 😉