My First NetBook

So I’ve been fascinated by the NetBook craze. Actually, I loved NetBooks even before they existed, being fascinated by the early Toshiba mini-notebooks in the 90s. But I’ve never owned one, until now. With prices close to $200 for a decent machine and my love of gadgets, it was just a matter of time.
I decided to go with the Asus eeePC since it gets the most attention and I wanted something popular to increase the chance of information and hacks being widely available. I got an older 900 series because I wanted to go small — and it looks like the newer ones are a little bigger.
For $219 I got 1GB of memory and 20GB SSD drive. Of course, I went with the Asus version of the Linux OS, and not Windows XP. I was tempted to go with XP, just because I could probably run Flash and Director on it, but I really wanted to use Linux. I may install eeeBuntu, but for now the Asus OS seems just fine.
So my first impressions are that it is indeed small and light. Perfect. I will be able to take this on short trips rather than my MacBook Pro, which is three times the weight. After all, while traveling, I just need email and Web access. I don’t really do any development while on the move.
The OS is a collection of apps, of which Firefox is the big one. That’s all I really need. It does have an email client, but I’ll probably never touch it. It also includes Open Office 2.0 which may come in handy for taking notes at conferences. A lot of the other applications are actually just Web links to email, Google Docs, Wikipedia, etc. But there is an instant messaging app and even Skype.
The hardware includes a camera and mic. And there is a video recording application that may come in handy. There are also headphone and a microphone input jack, as well as 3 USB 2.0 jacks and an SD card slot. Completing the ports are an ethernet jack and a VGA output to run an external monitor. OK, I can see doing presentations on this thing.
At first I thought that the trackpad was going to be a problem. Not the pad itself, but the hard-to-press button below it. Then I realized that you can tap on the pad to click. So the button is really just for click+hold and right clicks. In fact, the track pad responds to two-touch for scrolling. The keyboard is small and hard to type on, but is still so much better than iPhone typing that I don’t mind.
The best app, for me, on the thing is one that isn’t even shown in the interface. By pressing Home+T I can bring up the terminal window. Then by typing “krdc” I can run the KDE Remote Desktop. This is the Linux version of Mac’s screen sharing, or VNC. Without a problem I can share the screen of my Mac Pro. That’s pretty much what I do with my MacBook Pro anyway.
So I’m pretty pleased with the NetBook so far. Combined with the fact that I now use a Mac Pro as my main machine, this might mean I don’t need to get a new MacBook Pro when my old one gives out.

Update: I got tired of the toy-like Asus OS. Plus I wasn’t able to install any additional applications for some mysterious reason. So I installed eeeBuntu standard. A real OS. I’ve used Ubuntu before, so it was all very familiar.
I love this little device even more now. Firefox rendering of pages is much better in this OS. It looks just like on a Mac or PC now. And I am able to add applications galore. It comes with a built-in VNC client that I don’t like, but I installed the krdc application without a problem. I was even surprised that my Sprint USB modem worked without any issues. So now I can use it pretty much anywhere in the U.S.

Posted on July 30, 2009 at 10:39 am by Gary Rosenzweig · Permalink
In: General

One Response

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  1. Written by Albert Gheuens
    on 7/30/2009 at 11:19 am

    I got the same one ,i updated the firefox to 3.0 so now the browser fits the screen perfectly.soon ill try the new firefox 3.5 .
    I also tried the KDE desktop but it crashed to much for me.
    One thing i found out make shure you don’t fill up the SSD to the limit then it stops running and you need to restore the system.
    My doughter has the Eeepc 900 XP version and that gives alot of problems due the 4Gig partition where XP is located on its just to small,i had to use magic to get SP 3 on it .
    Still cool machine to use as a travel partner
    (one more thing the battery that came with it 4400 is to light ,i got a 7800 one from Mugen Power runs 5-6 hours)
    Now i got my macbook pro 13″ tho and that to awesome for words…love it

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