New version of Ubuntu for the Eee PC released

The Asus Eee is a small, cheap PC (around $350ish) that comes with Windows XP or Linux by default.  Unfortunately the version of Linux that comes with it, Xandros, isn’t very good, but fortunately it can be replaced.  “Ubuntu” is a much better version of Linux, and a team of guys have put together a version of Ubuntu customised for the Eee.

So the team behind this Ubuntu Eee Linux flavor have released a new version, renaming it to Easy Peasy 1.0.  Boy do I hate that name, but I’m sure I can change any branding once its installed.  Someone should create a fork of this just to change the dumb name.

Anyway, their website looks friendly on the surface, but they make it rather difficult to figure out how you actually install the software.  There is a prominent download link for an ISO (a good start), but once you’ve got the ISO, it requires quite a bit of poking around in their wiki and on forums to figure out what you do next.  It certainly wasn’t “easy peasy”.

Well, I figured it out.  You can either burn it to a DVD (the latest release is too big for a CD), but then you need an external DVD drive for the Eee as they don’t have them built in.  Alternatively, you can create a bootable USB stick from Windows or Linux (but not Mac) using these instructions.

I opted for the latter option, but found that the Eee refused to boot from the USB stick I’d just created (an 8GB Cruzer Micro).  Luckily after some digging I discovered the solution.  Hopefully some poor souls searching Google for “easy peasy cruzer usb boot” or something like that will stumble on this.

So I was originally trying to boot from the USB stick by making it the first boot option in the bios, this didn’t work.  I found that if I hit “Esc” on startup I was given the option of booting from the USB stick, and this worked fine.  Not sure if its specific to the Cruzer USB stick, but whatever it is looks like it is something to do with the Eee PC’s bios – not Linux itself.

Once you’ve got it booting it will actually start up Ubuntu, but it will be running directly off the USB stick.  You must then install it using the very simple installation wizard that pops up (its far easier than installing Windows in my experience).

I’ve installed it and initial impressions aren’t good.  The “Easy Peasy” logo looks horribly pixelated, and per some reports it launches the installation tool after its already been installed.  Both issues are trivially rectified, but it is definitely indicitive of a very rushed release.

On the positive side, the wifi seems to be more reliable than the previous version.  More observations to follow…

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