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eee PC

Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

eee PC

Any other eee PC users out there?
Just picked one up tonight from Toys'R'us in Northampton, they had about 5 left on stock, and it was creating interest. Had to wait to get a chance for a close look.
For anyone not knowing what I am talking about;
http://eeepc.asus.com/global/
Chilly
8 REPLIES
pcoventry
Grafter
Posts: 434
Registered: 26-11-2007

Re: eee PC

Hi Chilly,
I was looking at one of these for my wife as a present. But alas could not get one as they are sold out Here.
What's your first impression of it from using it?
alanb
Grafter
Posts: 459
Registered: 24-05-2007

Re: eee PC

Quote from: chillypenguin
Any other eee PC users out there?

Yes, I've got one. I picked it up in Tottenham Court Road in London, a couple of weeks ago. (I was talking to a man in a shop who said they'd had a delivery of about 400 that all went in a day.)
The hardware is very nicely made (much better than I anticpated for the price), but I am a tad disappointed with the cut-down version of Xandros Linux they've installed on it. Only a tad though. It works beautifully as a self-contained, web enabled, portable productivity tool, and of course it integrates nicely with my Linux-based network at home too.
On the software front, I'm disappointed that it doesn't detect my Pentax digital camera or Epson scanner, which both play nicely with my OpenSuse Linux workstations. I've no doubt they can be made to work with the eee-pc but only at the cost of quite a lot of hours messing around trying to identify the source of the problem and fixing it.
After a bit of investigation, I've found that detection of the camera half works, but the auto-mounter tries to use a mount point containing invalid characters. At the moment I'm trying to work out where this is happening in the udev system so that I can try to fix it, but I can now work-around it using  a manual mount.
So far, I've no idea why the scanner isn't working, and it appears that all the scanner diagnostic tools are missing. (I assume that the donor Xandros Linux build has been heavily trimmed to fit it on the eee-pc.)
It's also without the usual Linux firewall support, in this case, it's not just missing software files, but firewall support has been stripped out of the operating system kernel, which means that you cannot easily install a firewall should you choose to do so.
There are also some rough edges in the software, for example I've seen a couple of dialogue boxes are too big for the screen, and the text in the dictionary application is all in Chinese. It is supposed to be possible to change the dictionary to English in the configuration settings, but it just won't work on my machine. It's still usable as a dictionary, so long as you don't mind having all the buttons and tabs showing Chinese language descriptions. On a couple of occasions mine has refused to shut down, as well.
Some of the Xandros software on the eee-pc is a little dated, they seem to have been slightly conservative when choosing versions. For example, I've got a couple of applications that I've written in Python that I'd like to put on the eee-pc, but they won't work in their current form because the eee-pc Python interpreter is an earlier version than the one I've been using in OpenSuse for most of this year.
Despite all of the above, (some of which are no doubt teething problems that will be fixed by the manufacturer, given time,) it's a very nice machine. There's a rather good and very active discussion forum here: http://www.eeeuser.com/ for anyone who is interested in learning more.
Alan.
VileReynard
Seasoned Pro
Posts: 10,578
Thanks: 190
Fixes: 9
Registered: 01-09-2007

Re: eee PC

It sounds like it's a very proprietary gadget. More serious is its use of flash disk storage as it's only good for a few million write operations - that includes OS I/O, which should be considerable with the small amount of RAM.
A PC is not just for Christmas  Grin

pcoventry
Grafter
Posts: 434
Registered: 26-11-2007

Re: eee PC

I see on the photos on the link alan posted above, that someone has XP running on the one they have.
Nice..
Community Veteran
Posts: 4,729
Registered: 04-04-2007

Re: eee PC

I will echo Alan's comments on the hardware, for the money its a great machine. Well built, and my comparison is IBM ThinkPads. And some nice touches such as the long lead on the power adaptor and a slip case included. In some places you can see its been build to a budget (screen size) but its has been done with robustness and quality in mind.
The text on the screen is a little too small for long term use, but that may be exacerbated as I wear glasses.
The keyboard takes a little time to get used due to the small key size, about 1/2 an hour.
And I have dumped the "Easy" mode in favour of "Advanced" which gives you a kde desktop.
You are not limited to the Xandros, the operators guide gives full detail on installing Windows XP, and optimising it for the Flash drive. (Visita is a no go.) Which also covers reducing the write cycles on the flash drive.
On that subject, the default Xandros install uses unionfs and is optimised to minimise the write cycles to the flash, to extend its life. And flash drives have come a long way since the days of very limited write cycles. So that is not really an issue.
If you want to stay with linux but dump Xandros, then there details on eeeuser on how to install and optimize Ubuntu and other flavours.
I am sure mine will go through XP and Ubuntu.
I would not recommend as an only machine, but if you are looking for a laptop to complement your main desktop. Or a laptop for your kids.
Chilly
PS; I will give you one guess for my username on the eeeuser forums  Wink
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 25,755
Thanks: 1,120
Fixes: 47
Registered: 14-04-2007

Re: eee PC

Our cleaner at work asked me about this for a Christmas present for one of her kids.
My comment that it ran Linux was met with the inevitable blank stare and no amount of explanation would remove that. Therefore I recommended against it as there are many 'conventional' laptops available for not much more.
However the above comments and reviews are very interesting.
Customer and Forum Moderator.
Product of the Tyrell Corporation
alanb
Grafter
Posts: 459
Registered: 24-05-2007

Re: eee PC

I agree with Chilly, it's not ideal for use as your primary machine, but it could be if you have an external monitor and fullsize keyboard to plug it into at home, or wherever. I'm intending to keep mine as standard so that I've got a small reliable machine that I can use when away from home so that I don't have to use a company laptop for personal stuff. As I'm using all Linux applications at home, this approach will hopefully work well for me.
I have less of a problem with the keyboard because it's like the Toshiba Libretto notebook I used for work about 10 years ago. Interestingly, the Libretto was about the same size as the Asus, except it was much thicker (and the Libretto had half the battery life even though it's screen was monochrome). I agree the screen is a bit too small for use over long periods - a larger screen occupying all of the space in the lid would have been really good, but probably only at the cost of pushing the price up into budget laptop territory. No doubt Asus, are losing money on every unit while they are ramping up into full production, it'll be interesting to see if they can hold prices down at current levels. I think they have a winner if they can maintain or even reduce the price.
On the flash memory disc i/o wear issue: Asus have also eliminated a major source of disc i/o by not implementing a memory swap partition on the disc. This is consistent with Linux configuration guidelines that often recommend a swap partition is not needed in a typical workstation configuration if the PC memory is 512 MB or greater. The downside of this is that the eee-pc cannot hibernate properly like other laptops, as a memory image and machine state is normally saved in the swap partition during hibernation. But it boots up in about 15 seconds, so personally, I can live without the hibernation feature.
alanb
Grafter
Posts: 459
Registered: 24-05-2007

Re: eee PC

Quote from: PJ
Could you let me know how well this runs on Windows XP please?

Have a read of this PJ: http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/12/07/eb_eee_pc_with_xp/