My Eeebuntu Experience

10:18 pm PHT

I’ve had my ASUS Eee PC 701 for over a year but I never did replace the stock ASUS Xandros OS that came with it. That is, until about two months ago. I’ve been pretty contented with the default OS and I especially liked how blazingly fast it booted up and shut down. And just like Markku, I’ve been using it as a development PC for my latest website (still under wraps) and had installed XAMPP on it.

However, around the beginning of October, I tried to install some components and discovered that the Eee PC Xandros OS didn’t have some pretty fundamental development packages, namely make and GCC. These are pretty basic and I really wondered why they weren’t included. So when I decided to install them, I also opted to upgrade all the already-installed software packages on the Eee PC as well. Bad move. In the process of upgrading everything, I ran out of disk space and this left the netbook in an unbootable state. Ugh.

So, I decided to ditch the default OS and go with a proper Linux OS. The choice of going with an Ubuntu variant was easy, and I quickly narrowed my choices down to three: the official Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Eeebuntu, and easypeasy. When I learned that the Ubuntu Netbook Remix had the Intel Atom as its minimum requirement, I nixed it in my (possibly mistaken) belief that since my 701 uses an older Intel Celeron M processor, my netbook wasn’t powerful enough. Between Eeebuntu and easypeasy, I went with the former simply because it was more popular (and thus more tried and tested).

Anyway, aside from the much slower boot-up and shutdown times, I very much love Eeebuntu and would not go back to the default ASUS Xandros OS. Since my main laptop died on me last October (the timing was pretty uncanny since I was able to install Eeebuntu on the netbook before the laptop died), I pretty much had about a whole month to get really acquainted with Eeebuntu with the Eee PC functioning as my main PC. I had a minor hiccup once when I let it auto-upgrade the Linux kernel and that pretty much killed the Wi-Fi. (I since learned that I should not have upgraded the kernel and should’ve waited on the Eeebuntu developers to give the proper go signal. Then again, they probably should’ve fixed the proper Debian software package repositories in the first place.)

Well, I wish I had a Kubuntu-derived (KDE-based) Eeebuntu (which doesn’t exist) over the GNOME-based standard Ubuntu-derived Eeebuntu. I’m more familiar with KDE’s Konqueror file manager over GNOME’s Nautilus, and I prefer KDE’s Kate (or even KEdit) over GNOME’s gedit (the latter doesn’t even have regex search and replace!). And GNOME’s desktop is so uncustomizable compared to the power provided by KDE’s Control Center. Oh well.

I said in my ASUS Eee PC sort-of review that I find the Wi-Fi management of the Xandros OS to be “extremely quirky”. Well, it turns out that Eeebuntu’s is even quirkier. For one thing, I couldn’t reliably force the OS to refresh its list of available Wi-Fi access points and sometimes it doesn’t even detect the Wi-Fi hardware at all, necessitating that I reboot the netbook. It’s a bit of a hassle. Moreover, if I turn the Wi-Fi off, I can’t make it function again unless I reboot. Grrr.

Nevertheless, I’m pretty much contented with Eeebuntu. As I said, I won’t go back to Xandros, and I definitely won’t install Windows on this netbook. This is also the first time I played around with Ubuntu. I quite like it and after using Red Hat and Slackware Linuxes, I can see how Ubuntu can appeal to those people who won’t put up with the geeky do-it-yourself ethos of most other Linux distributions.

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