Posts Tagged 'eeepc'

7″ EeePC AUD329 at Clive Peeters

Just got a Clive Peeters brochure in the mailbox.  In the bottom left hand corner is a 7″ Linux EeePC for $329.

Their web address is www.clivepeeters.com.au, but I haven’t found the netbook on the site.

Eee at Vicini, Using OOo and OpenSuSE live

Vicini is a truly lovely cafe/restaurant in Annandale. They serve probably the best flourless chocolate cake I have had – ever (ahh… I mean “ever if you’re excluding those baked by family members”). [update July 08- their supplier has stopped making cakes to focus on biscuits. Argh! update Sept 08 - apparently it is back on the menu again, but they don't serve it with double cream] I took the eee with me for coffee this morning. This time I actually used it for serious work (drafting an advice for a client) rather than just posing.

The moment I took it out one of the waiters came over and fawned over it. “I want one,” he said. A little later one of the other waiters came over and asked about it. I gave a short demo and told them the price and where to get one. It is increasingly clear to me that the eee is an object of desire.

Ooo writer has a noticable delay in bringing up an “open file” dialog but otherwise operates fine. I would like a view mode in which the text is not wysiwyg, but rather the text is flowed to the borders of the screen – I have not tried web layout, but this seems to do the trick. This will allow editing in a large font which can then be reviewed for layout later (or on a desktop machine). The eee demonstrates how poorly thought out the OOo’s treatment of context sensitive toolbars is as it in effect will not permit the toolbars to be turned off to save screen real estate. More on this later if I have time.

I was able to ping someone’s wireless router from the cafe but that’s all. So the wireless clearly works.

There is an OpenSuSE live flash drive iso available with instructions, but having booted it up last night it appears to be designed primarily as a means to overwriting the existing distribution on the eee – which is not something I want to risk atm. It is not a full blown live distro in (eg) the knoppix mould. Why it takes up 2G is beyond me [note later in day - I mounted the flash drive and took a look at it - it is only about 50MB and most of that is in the boot directory].

New eeePC

I bought a white 4G eeePC on Saturday (at the Good Guys Alexandria on my way back from Mascot after being given the run around by a luggage repair shop – sent me an sms saying come and pick up your bag, then when I get there the bag wasn’t ready. In fact the part wasn’t even in the State anyway…). Price for credit card was $455 (a $3 discount off the advertised price).

The shop assistant was pretty good telling me about the machine, including that it ran Linux (although didn’t make a big thing of it, nor that it wouldn’t run windows software). That said, he did say that if I got an SD card I would be able to load XP onto it. I suspect that the instructions in the manual on how to do this raise Trade Practices issues and may get around to posting a comment on that sometime.

It worked out of the box (battery was charged). I have spent a little bit of time coming to terms with it over the weekend. It comes with Xandros Linux, which if I recall correctly has entered a patent deal with Microsoft, so is therefore on the nose. I will need to work out how to hose it. The software available (and the set up with the unionfs) makes it clear that it is designed as an appliance, albeit a relatively versatile one. ASUS maintains a repository of programs, but it is very limited, so you need to add others to get a wider variety of stuff (a good starting point for things eee is the unofficial eeeuser site.

I had some trouble setting up networking, primarily because the cable wasn’t plugged in at the router properly. After the cable was plugged in it worked much better. I haven’t tried leeching off someone else’s wireless but there’s time enough for that.

The user is identified as “user” and it doesn’t come with an ssh server. I have downloaded the frotz z code interpreter and may take some IF games away with me [Note: to install frotz you first need to add other software repositories (and "pin" them). Once this is done type sudo apt-get frotz from a terminal (ctrl-alt-t) or install via synaptic.]

This post was typed on the eee. The keys are a little cramped (I don’t have big fingers), the right shift that everyone complains about is hard to hit, and the apostrophe is elusive. That said, typing isn’t too much of a strain, although I would be wary of using the keyboard for long documents.

The touchpad is small, but functional and just as annoying as any other touch pad. I will probably pack a USB mouse to take with me wherever I go. I guess I could also take a flexible keyboard that I have. The touchpad has a single button, but clicking on the left or right side makes it a left/right click respectively. The touchpad also has a scrolling area which works pretty well. I slightly increased the sensitivity of the touchpad.

Thankfully the keys aren’t as loud as normal keyboard keys but aren’t silent. While the screen is small the definition is still comparatively high, so there is enough stuff on a screen, although some fonts are a little bit hard to read. Battery lasted about 4 hours with minimal use. It seems to be pretty portable, but I haven’t taken it out yet to see. I may do that in the next 15 minutes.

Update – The Trip to the Coffee Shop

Well, I went to get some lunch and took some stuff to read (and the eee just in case). Got to the end of what I had printed and found I didn’t print enough. However, I had loaded the pdf of the doc onto the eee, so it was a good excuse to get it out and show it off – so I did.

The pdf reader (Acrobat 7) provides good readable text if you can master it. Ctrl-L for full screen, but this resizes the image to fit page – ie way too small. If you use ctrl-m to zoom you get good size fonts across the width of the screen.

So I sat and I sat. It was a quite time in the cafe so there wasn’t really anyone in the shop to show it off to. Until, that is, the owner came over and asked about it. He knew it was Linux and that you could load up XP on it. That the local coffee shop owner can not only identify the machine, but also that it runs Linux (in my view) speaks volumes for market recognition of both this device and Linux.

Misc Other Observations

I have run it now for about an hour this afternoon and the battery is at 80%

The manage photos app (gwenview) has a launch gimp menu item – but gimp doesn’t seem to be installed.

The fact that there is only 1 ctrl key annoys me (can’t ctrl-shift-select). Presumably there is a way to remap the right alt key to a ctrl key… However, the fact that the whole keyboard can be reached with 1 hand is great (for those times when you only have 1 hand free).

To boot from a fully shut down machine to a functioning workspace takes about 15 seconds (guesstimate) and from suspend probably under 10. The eee also renders the flash based traffic graphs (on WordPress) that I have never seen before (not having loaded a proprietary flash player on my other machines) and wish were just jpgs served by the server rather than awful Flash.

The more I use it the more I like it. Now I just have to find a way to make it a more ethical machine.

Finally (?) the eee is pretty much the only electronic device in the house (including my mobile phone) which has correctly negotiated the change in daylight savings (which is to say it didn’t incorrectly think daylight savings finished yesterday).


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