My Eee-PC OS experiences so far

Since I wrote a post asking for “Asus Eee-PC 901 OS recommendations” a while ago, I’ve actually tried three of the five options I mentioned in that post. OSX isn’t a serious option for me, mostly because I don’t want my netbook to run illegal software. An ‘nLited’ version of XP would probably boot faster and run a bit smoother, but it would still need regularly updated firewall and anti-virus software. The three options I did try each have their own merits and flaws.

Here are my experiences so far, completely biased and laid out as a table similar to the kind you’ll find in real, professional reviews…

OSWindows XPXEPC XandrosUbuntu
Version I triedSP3xepc-recovery-901 – 20080719Ubuntu EEE (8.04) + Array.org kernel
Ease of installUltra-easy (recovery DVD)Really easy (downloadable recovery DVD)Completely doable (see my post here)
Boot time (estimated)1 minute +30 seconds45 seconds
User interface / usabilityFamiliarEasy to use, but severely limitedExtremely slick, especially with Compiz Fusion (*)
Hardware supportCompleteCompleteNearly complete
Suitability for the Eee-PCMediocrePretty good for using it as a MIDPerfect for using it as a mini-notebook (**)

Please keep in mind that my 901 is completely ‘stock’. No extra RAM, no ZIF socket hard drive mod, just the XP version as it came out of the box. Another thing to note is that, although I’d installed Linux a few times before, I am a complete Linux noob, and have no desire to spend my evenings typing command into a terminal just to get things working properly. I consider all three operating systems to be viable options for ‘regular users’ like me.

* = I actually think that Compiz Fusion adds more than eye-candy alone, especially on the Eee. The rotating cube add a visual metaphor to working with multiple desktops, and I find I use them more often and more efficiently as a result. Using multiple workspaces helps me reduce clutter, especially on the Eee’s small screen.

** = I haven’t gotten around to installing the Netbook Remix packages yet, but I’m confident they’ll transform Ubuntu’s interface into something that’s “Perfect for using it as an MID” as well…

7 Comments

  1. I used to use ubuntu with Adam’s kernel, however, the font does not look nice on such a small screen, whatever I tweaked. Went back to XP, set font smoothing to cleartype and install Cleartype tune applet from microsoft(which further tunes the font) and the font looks very good.

    Comment by Hao Zhe XU — October 22, 2008 @ 5:40 am

  2. Did you need to re-install the drivers along with the XEPC download? or any re-partitioning of the HD from the XP machine?

    Any issues when trying to go back to XP?

    Thanks!

    Comment by Ray Su — October 22, 2008 @ 8:15 pm

  3. Hi Yay Su. XEPC comes as a disc image and completely overwrites your machine’s SSDs. No need for drivers, it will simply be as if you bought the Linux version from Asus (except for the smalled second SSD).

    I’ve not gone back to Windows but forward to Ubuntu, but I expect the rescue disc that came with my machine to do the trick if I ever do need Windows.

    Comment by Roy — October 23, 2008 @ 10:13 am

  4. Just to clarify, the boot time of XP depends majorly on how much RAM you have installed. I have 2Gb, and with the disabling of a few unnecessary services (a guide can be found online), it beats the pants off Xandros and Ubuntu, which don’t seem to be affected by the RAM increase at all.

    Comment by Kaecy.us — November 27, 2008 @ 1:59 am

  5. Hi Roy,

    So I’m trying to use the recovery disk to go back to Win XP. Nothing bad with the linux, but I find the 901 too small for my hands and so am going with a 10″ netbook. Anyway, I can’t get the CD to load. Dunno if it’s the DVD-ROM player that I’m using, but have not had any luck getting it to load either from startup, or in linux.

    When trying to boot directly after reconfiguring the BIOS, it says there’s no bootable disc. When in linux, I can’t even find the DVD player.

    Do you have any advice of what to do? Since I’m obviously very amateur with this stuff, I didn’t want to go the USB stick route to re-load win xp, but may have to. Thanks!

    Comment by Ray Su — December 15, 2008 @ 3:10 am

  6. I heard some CDs are defective. You may need another one.

    Comment by humanoido — March 23, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

  7. Link: Good Reasons Why You Should Learn a Musical Instrument | knezz