The Evolution of an Ubuntu EeePC

123rd Feb 2008Code and Nerd Stuff, Good Ideas

It’s officially been a week since I purchased an Asus EeePC. I’ve been reading a lot about them since they were released last year and now that I’ve got it setup and tweaked to my liking I’m very pleased with my purchase. Over the last week of usage, my EeePC has morphed and evolved quite a bit.

Out of the box, the EeePC is a fun little machine, but the built in and simplified Xandros Linux is terribly underpowered. At first I didn’t mind the tabbed interface but once I started playing I realized that the basic OS was a little finicky. From the less than friendly Synaptic package manager to the excessive amounts of manual configuration, it just took too much work to really get the system configured to my liking. Yes it was fast, yes it had things like Flash and Firefox, and yes it did “just work” out of the box, but the nagging little details were too much for me.

Enter Ubuntu on the EeePC. Not only did it install quickly and easily on the miniature hardware, but it seems to be the first Linux distro that actually works on par with a modern OS like OSX. Once the core OS was installed, all it took was the help of the “ubuntu-eee” script which tweaked the UI, installed updated wifi drivers, and performed a number of optimizations. After a quick reboot, everything was up and running smoothly.

eeepc ubuntu

Beyond the base install, thanks to the slick and extremely usable package management system, it was a breeze installing useful apps like VLC, Skype, and Filezilla. Considering the size of the EeePC’s solid state drive I also opted to uninstall a handful of the base apps that came along with Ubuntu in order to save a some space. All of this was done with ease and (for the first time with any Linux) without even an ounce of frustration. The only minor inconvenience was the configuration of fonts within Firefox, but that was solved quickly thanks to a simple copy and paste.

Even though the base Ubuntu setup was very easy, it looks like a custom EeePC distro is on its way that will reduce the number of steps necessary to complete an install. When this EeePC optimized Ubuntu hits the internet it’ll mean that “normal” and “average” users will have a nice and simple installation experience “that just works”.

At this point I’m please with the progress and evolution of the UbuntuEee. A 2GB ram upgrade is definitely in the works and maybe some additional SDHC storage, but at this point it’s already a great little machine. I love my Macbook Pro, but having a fully functional “micro laptop” that can handle most average computing tasks really is appealing. Not bad for just over $400 (tax-in) and a little spare time.

UPDATE – Ok found the first real bug. I came into work today and booted up the Ubuntu-eee. No problem. Since I don’t have wifi access in my office I flipped off the wifi antenna to save some battery. As it turns out, suspend and hibernate both HATE having the wifi drivers disabled and kak out when the power management kicks in. The Ubuntu-eee proceeded to crash for the rest of the day until I remembered the minor change I made at 8am. Now with the wifi turned back on, suspend and hibernation seem to work just fine. Will have to dig into this for a proper fix, but for now I’m happy to just keep the wifi enabled.

12 Comments Comments Feed

  1. Boycott Novell » Links 04/02/2008: Google vs. Y!MS, Military and RHEL, XO Finds Love (February 4, 2008, 2:24 am).

    […] The Evolution of an Ubuntu EeePC […]

  2. deric (February 4, 2008, 5:36 pm).

    het! thanks for linking me here. I really appreciate it. :)

  3. andreg (February 4, 2008, 9:05 pm).

    I just noticed another novel concept with the Ubuntu-eee. Thanks to the special features enabled by the ubuntu-eee script it is possible to turn overclocking of the cpu on and off as desired. At the normal clock speed of 630-ish Mhz you’ll notice web pages load ok but are not particularly snappy. A quick click of Fn-F6 and the processor jumps to a full 900mhz which adds significant speed and snappiness. Unfortunately overclocking heats the mini laptop up a bit and consumes a lot or extra battery power. For now, underclock when on battery and overclock when on AC.

  4. Dmitriy Kropivnitskiy (February 5, 2008, 4:19 pm).

    I have tried installing eeeXubuntu and it works fine, except that I don’t particularly like XFCE. So, after reading your post I went off the deep edge and installed Ubuntu and ubuntu-eee. So far the only bug I found was dead wired network. It seems that the script doesn’t replace the atl2 module, so there is a conflict.

  5. Dmitriy Kropivnitskiy (February 5, 2008, 5:31 pm).

    BTW, what is that nice panel you have at the bottom of the screen?

  6. andreg (February 5, 2008, 7:43 pm).

    I didn’t to anything too special. I added the lower panel and did not tell it to auto expand to the full width of the screen. I then cranked down the opacity.

  7. Chris (February 6, 2008, 2:35 am).

    Man it’s weird seeing that background on there… discombobulating in fact :)

    I was also about to correct you for “…and Filezilla…”, I was so used to thinking it was a PC-only app. Then I checked. Thanks for pointing out that my favourite non-Transmit FTP app is available for Linux – I had no idea.

    Good FTP times ahead (I hate you gFTP).

  8. Dmitriy Kropivnitskiy (February 7, 2008, 12:51 pm).

    Ah! Cool. Didn’t recognize the panel, since by default you would have taskbar on the bottom and launchers on top. After I deleted the original atl2 module everything seems fine. The boot takes quite some time compared to the original OS. I guess the original modified Xandros doesn’t start many of the services Ubuntu starts. I did the tmpfs and profiling tricks, now I need to cut out some of the services from the startup. One annoying thing I noticed is that a lot of stuff that may non be strictly necessary is a dependence of ubuntu-desktop, ubuntu-minimal or one of the other ubuntu-* packages. And it seems like Ubuntu devs depend on those packages when they want to introduce new packages into the system.

  9. Dmitriy Kropivnitskiy (February 7, 2008, 1:37 pm).

    I am considering trying gOS + ubuntu-eee combo. gOS 2.0.1beta is a little rough around the edges, but much faster on startup and much more responsive.

  10. andreg (February 7, 2008, 4:08 pm).

    Yeah I read a few reviews that said it was pretty underwhelming when you got it installed…

  11. Sriram (August 13, 2008, 4:14 am).

    Nice review.. as you said, it’s a great micro laptop, and the fact that it runs *buntu makes it even more lovable :)

  12. orwellophile (August 16, 2008, 1:20 pm).

    That background is indeed mind bottling.

    I’m having trouble picking which Distro to install on my little baby. There are so many choices… all of them Debian :-p .. and none of them perfect…

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