Install extra packages on the ASUS Eee PC

Installing extra packages on the Asus Eee PC is possible if you want more software than the average user. Vincent Danen explains how to set up Xandros repositories to make it easier to add packages.

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 etch main contrib non-free
deb dccri-3.0 main
deb xandros4 main
deb 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:

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 950
Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 925
Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 900
Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 850
Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 750
Package: *
Pin: release a=stable
Pin-Priority: 700
Package: *
Pin: release a=testing
Pin-Priority: 650
Package: *
Pin: release a=unstable
Pin-Priority: 600

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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