The ASUS Eee Linux PC
One of the most amazing releases this year was the surprise subnotebook from popular hardware vendor ASUS. This diminutive device, with its correspondingly small price, has to be credited for thrusting Xandros Linux into the hands of the masses.
The Eee has been a runaway success, selling out in each store in each market where it has been released. It’s hardly a powerhouse, equipped with simply a Celeron processor, 512Mb RAM and a 4Gb solid-state hard drive – but conversely, it is quiet and has a three hour battery life – and not to mention it weighs less than a single kilogram. With built-in WiFi and Ethernet, and three USB 2.0 ports, it is a masterpiece of portability. Put it in your pocket, put it under your arm, stick it in any bag – you can seriously take it anywhere anytime.
I gave a run-down on the ASUS Eee PC here on ITWire. By default, the Eee boots into a simple easy-to-use icon-driven mode which masks the underlying Linux distro save for the use of notable open-source software like OpenOffice and Firefox. You can switch to a full-blown KDE interface if you wish and this gives a completely new experience.
The Eee has engaged the attention of many. It has been touted as an ideal second laptop, a top-notch starter laptop for children and a masterful mobile workstation for professionals. It’s also making a name for itself as the ideal hacker and tinkerer’s device. (I use “hacker” here in the pure sense of someone who is driven by curiosity and intrigue to understand the inner workings of the device and to push its limits.) You don’t have to look far to find amazing things people are doing. Some users report loading different Linux distros – Ubuntu mostly – as well as alternate operating systems such as Windows XP and MacOS. This can be done with complete safety; it’s a no-brainer to make a 1Gb USB flash disk which restores your Eee back to its pristine factory state with the default Xandros installation.
However, it’s hardware mods which have really caught the fascination of many. Brave souls willing to void their warranty have installed internal Bluetooth adapters and 3G HSDPA modems, touch screens and larger internal storage devices. One mod that anyone can do is to increase the installed RAM to a higher amount; ASUS have decreed that this will not be considered a warranty violation.
Let’s be careful not to give ASUS all the credit; Everex also released their gPC desktop computer this year, running gOS which is based on Ubuntu. Like ASUS, the dirt-cheap gPC deserves full kudos for its part in making a fully-functional Linux computer that just runs out-of-the-box with no mucking around with drivers and partitions to scare the faint of heart. However, the gPC is, at this time, a North American Walmart-only option while the Eee is available worldwide.
What else was big this year? Read on!