Recently, I purchased a Linux-based EeePC. I bought it for easy "packing" so I could have the means to write in serious "go mode." It worked well but there was something that bothered me a bit - the pre-installed OS. Now, don't get me wrong, I think the flavor of Linux put on netbooks is serviceable...at best. But to be honest, I am surprised at the choice Asus made using Xandros. Why? Well, it is somewhat limiting and has next to zero on the "fun factor."
I realize that "limiting" was an issue Asus took seriously. They didn't want the full-blown power of Linux invading their new-user-friendly netbooks. But that shouldn't have meant the Linux distribution need suffer for it. But it did. And this is my call out to Asus to re-examine the version of Linux they have chosen for their netbooks before all of those claims by Microsoft-funded studies come true.
I will say, in defense of Asus' choice, I probably wouldn't have realized there were far better options available for the Eee PC. Well, there are. And one of them is based on Ubuntu, so from the very beginning you know it's going to be a solid choice for new users. This netbook redux is called, aptly, Eeebuntu and it offers the best of all possible worlds.
First and foremost the installation of Eeebuntu was amazingly easy.
- Download an image for Eeebuntu. You can download a standard desktop or the netbook remix.
- Download Unetbootin and use it to install Eeebuntu on a flash drive.
- Insert the flash drive into your netbook usb port.
- Reboot netbook.
- Click the Esc key during the Bios post to get to the boot selection screen.
- Boot from the USB drive.
- Let Eeebuntu boot (It will be just like you're running a live cd).
- Click the install button when the desktop is up and running.
- Reboot machine when done.
It really is that easy.
Now when your new Eeebuntu netbook boots up you will have a far superior user experience than you did with Xandros. Not only can you configure your netbook, you can install and remove applications as well. And if you install the standard version, all of a sudden your netbook has become a standard desktop. No more "netbook interface" with nothing but tabs and child-sized icons. I did happen to download and install the Netbook Remix because I wanted to see what it had to offer. I was so impressed with the layout and simplicity that I left it on the machine.
Lately I have been reading so much drivel about how Microsoft will (if not already "has") overtaken the netbook market, because their operating system is familiar and so much easier to use. Well, those people writing those words have never truly seen what "easy" is. Easy is exactly what the Eeebuntu experience is. The Eeebuntu development team has created what I think is the perfect netbook interface (as you can see in the image to the left.) The Eeebuntu Netbook Remix interface is so easy I would challenge anyone to install this OS on a netbook and just try to find someone who couldn't instantly use it. Anyone that would say, "Where's the Start button?" or "But there's no Panel!" I would wonder if common sense had decidedly passed them up at birth.
Of course you have to satisfy everyone right? For those who can not live without a panel you can install the Standard version of Eeebuntu (see image to the right).
Either way Eeebuntu has the perfect netbook OS for any user. They are simple to install, simple to use, offer everything a mobile computer user needs (and then some), and have all the benefits of mobile Linux.
I have grown weary of hearing the pundits tell me that Microsoft will win yet another war over Linux. No, they won't. As the prices of netbooks continue to fall, and the Linux netbook desktop continues to grow vastly superior, and Microsoft continues to press on with yet another release of Windows, the netbook space will slowly and surely ebb back to Linux. But this ebbing will need a little help from the hardware makers to choose their OS wisely.
There are a lot of netbook operating systems out there. Linux has a number of possibilities, many of them far better than the ones you see coming off the shelves. So for all of you hardware execs who make decisions about your product, listen up:
Eeebuntu is the clear frontrunner for a netbook OS. So stop selling your product with lesser operating systems! You won't have to worry about rolling in a wireless stack because it's already there. You won't have to worry that the interface isn't user-friendly because it is. You'll get better performance, a more reliable desktop, and much happier users.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.