Sunday, 11 July 2010

EasyPeasy netbook OS

Eee PC
I have an Asus Eee PC 700 4G, I got it back in 2008. It was the first popular and truly cheap netbooks to emerge a few years ago. It's a cute little machine that I use mostly for casual web browsing. Originally its built-in 4GB SSD (solid state drive) came pre-loaded with a Linux distribution from Asus specially for the Eee PC. It was ok, I used it for a while but it was clunky and it got on my nerves after a while because it was always forgetting my WiFi connection's WPA key.

I tried Ubuntu's netbook release but it didn't have the drivers included for my old Eee PC. I had a look around and found Eeebuntu (since renamed Aurora), an Ubuntu distribution that came pre-configured for use on the Eee PC with the drivers included for the network, WiFi, webcam, etc. I used Eeebuntu for a while and found it good but it was a little fiddly.

Next I tried EasyPeasy from - again a Linux Ubuntu based distribution. This I have found to be a nice little OS (operating system). It installed relatively easily. I had no driver problems, everything worked immediately. A large selection of popular software is installed such as Firefox, OpenOffice, etc. Unfortunately most of the main storage, the 4GB SSD is taken by all this software but having said that, I never really used the main storage anyway, I always used an SD card for data.

The EasyPeasy interface is excellent, it is clear, easy to use and the mouse pointer travels around it without having to finger the track pad too much. The interface is well designed for the small screen of your netbook, the Eee PC must have one of the smallest and EasyPeasy manages work fine with the limited space. I'm writing this using my Eee PC now, in Firefox on the Blogger online editor. The text is large enough and there is no horizontal scroll bars. My only headache is the annoyingly small Eee PC keyboard, which I can hardly blame on EasyPeasy ;-)

There is a small thin bar at the top of the screen that has a button to get back to the main menu, there are indicators for WiFi strength, battery power remaining, speaker volume, e-mail, date, time and a logoff/shut down menu. This bar is visible the whole time unless you press F11 in Firefox to go full screen.

The only negative thing about EasyPeasy's interface is that sometimes dialogue boxes are too big and the buttons (OK, Cancel, etc) at the bottom of the dialogue window are not visible, they are off the screen and there's no way to move the window up far enough to see them. It is frustrating!

Apart from the overly big dialogue box problem, EasyPeasy is just about flawless. At least it has a very slick looking interface that is easy to use and navigate on a small screen, it boots fast, it can be updated easily (Ubuntu updates and software packages), it's great. I have no problems with the WiFi connection, it automatically connects every time without any fuss. The battery indicator seems to work and the OS rarely crashes.

According to the EasyPeasy website it is for all netbooks so whatever you have try it out.

Of course Aurora is also worth a look, I've not tried it recently. For the time being I'll stick with EasyPeasy as it does what I need which is all you want from a netbook OS. EasyPeasy is again another wonderful piece of open source work. They've adapted the already great Ubuntu so well to the tiny screen of the netbook, especially my little Eee PC.

My rating: 8/10
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