While the ASUS Eee PC and the Xandros distribution it ships with come with enough software for the average person, some users will eventually want to install other software. The Eee PC does not make this particularly easy, but because it comes with a light Xandros install, it is simple to set up Xandros repositories to provide extra packages to install.
To begin with, open a terminal by pressing CTRL-ALT-t; there is no shortcut icon for the terminal. Once the terminal is open, edit the /etc/apt/sources.list file by executing sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list; vim is also available if you prefer.
When the file is open, navigate to the end of the file and add the following lines to it:
deb http://xnv4.xandros.com/xs2.0/upkg-srv2 etch main contrib non-free
deb http://dccamirror.xandros.com/dccri/ dccri-3.0 main
deb http://www.geekconnection.org/ xandros4 main
deb http://download.tuxfamily.org/eeepcrepos/ p701 main etch
Save the file and exit. Next, create the /etc/apt/preferences file and edit it. Because multiple extra repositories have been added, care must be taken that if there are any duplicate versions of the same software, the Xandros-supplied ones will always come first. This is accomplished by using "pinning", which will indicate to apt which repositories take higher preference than others. Add the following to /etc/apt/preferences:
Pin: origin update.eeepc.asus.com
Pin: origin xnv4.xandros.com
Pin: origin dccamirror.xandros.com
Pin: origin www.geekconnection.org
Pin: release a=stable
Pin: release a=testing
Pin: release a=unstable
Now use apt to update the repository metadata:
$ sudo apt-get update
Once this is done you can use apt to install software that does not come with the default Xandros OS. For instance, to install the text editor joe, use:
$ sudo apt-get install joe
Apt also allows you to see what dependencies may be pulled in when you attempt to install packages by performing a dry-run install transaction. This is very good idea to keep from getting a system full of dependencies you did not expect. This can be done by adding the -s argument to the apt-get command:
$ sudo apt-get -s install joe
Getting new packages installed onto the ASUS Eee PC is not difficult, and the setup is required only once. From this point forward, any application built for Xandros or third-party applications compiled specifically for the Eee PC are now available. You can also use this to upgrade packages that were previously installed on the Eee PC, by doing:
$ sudo apt-get -s dist-upgrade
This will provide a list of available packages to upgrade. Omit the -s option to perform the actual package upgrades.
Get the PDF version of this tip here.
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Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.