Monday, March 31, 2008

Ubuntu on the Eee: Way Cool!

I’ve been having a couple of nagging problems with Xandros on my Eee. It’s probably what you’d call “power user stuff” that nobody except me is going to run into. So, I decide to give Ubuntu a try instead.

I had actually tried loading Ubuntu 7.10 on my 12” Toshiba laptop, but there is some bug preventing audio from working, and I got fed up with fighting with it. I thought to myself, if this is the kind of trouble I’m going to have with Ubuntu, historically considered the “easy” Linux, then I’m in for a world of hurt.

But, I did a bit of reading, and found that a bunch of other folks are running Ubuntu on the Eee just fine, and there’s a website chock-full of info on how to get it installed and running.

The installation process was pretty easy. I have an external CD-ROM drive, so I downloaded the normal ISO disk image of Gutsy Gibbon (7.10) and installed it via their normal installer. Afterward, I copied the Ubuntu Eee script to an SDHC card, and ran it, to tweak everything that requires tweaking. (As the instructions suggested, I had to re-run it after loading a bunch of updates…and I did have do those mod probe commands before everything completely behaved.)

After all that, I’m up and running, and very happy.

I can tell that Ubuntu (or Gnome) is putting a bit more load on the Eee than Xandros/KDE was. I may try loading Xubuntu instead and seeing if that makes it slightly more responsive. But even accounting for that, I’m very happy with the results. I have a fully working system, don’t have to worry about filling up the drive space as quickly (by, say, upgrading OpenOffice without the old one taking up space on the default UnionFS partition), and lots more unixy-stuff “just works” without having to tweak it or work around Xandros/Eee customization issues.

I’ve been using the computer with Ubuntu on it since Thursday or Friday (today is Monday), and have even been using it for work today. I work for an internet company, so we’re all about web applications and Outlook. I’m using Thunderbird instead of Outlook, and that’s working just fine (though I have to login to the webmail interface to get at my calendar). Firefox is just Firefox, like on every other platform, and I’m having no issues there. Same with OpenOffice…all working excellently.

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