The EeePC and UNIX/Linux

Wandering about, it would appear that UNIX aficionados (geeks!) are putting everything imaginable onto the EeePC.

For example, there are people running MacOS X Tiger, MacOS X Leopard, OpenSolaris 2008.05, Ubuntu, and NetBSD on the EeePC. There is a video review of the EeePC which is very informative and well done (even if the video itself is slightly off-color). There is another video describing the EeePC and how to install Ubuntu Linux onto it. There’s even a video demonstration of MacOS X Tiger running on the EeePC. Doesn’t seem to be anything it can’t do.

There’s a NetBSD on EeePC page as well.

This all makes me want to go get one for myself; I’ve been holding off. One of these with a dual-bootable Windows/Linux or Windows/UNIX installation would be perfect – and as it boots off of flash cards as well, perhaps Windows 2000 on flash would be just the thing for me (every corporate doodad requires Windows – VPN, WPA, intranet – ack!).

These machines apparently continue to be quite popular, as this romp through UNIX on the EeePC shows.

Core Linux on USB Stick (and the EeePC)

I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the Core Linux distribution yet. It has been described as a Linux From Scratch version prebuilt with just enough to compile your favorite sources. Core Linux is not a distribution for the new Linux user; it is a distribution that is handcrafted by the user to do what the user wants. There is no packaging system; everything is done by compiling the sources onto the machine.

There was an article on the Core Linux forums recently which detailed one person’s experiences in installing Core Linux onto a USB stick in preparation for installation onto a EeePC. No word on how the installation went, but apparently booting from USB was perfect.

Using a distribution like Core Linux will give you an excellent education on how things work in Linux, and how to do things from the ground up. Using Linux From Scratch takes that one step further: starting with a Linux system, you compile everything – everything – and build your own Linux system starting from nothing.

Linux From Scratch takes a long time however, and can be quite challenging to get set up properly; Core Linux may be a better choice to start with. Both are excellent.

Hardware Hacking on the EeePC

This is an amazing piece on hacking the Asus EeePC (be patient for the link; not only is it image heavy, it suffered the Slashdot effect…. need I say more?).

If you’ve soldered before, this will be fairly easy; if you don’t know what solder is, you may not want to do this.

The amount of new capabilities that this user added are insane. He added the following:

  • A USB hub
  • GPS with antenna
  • Bluetooth
  • Card reader
  • Flash drive
  • Power switch
  • Wifi (with 802.11N draft support)
  • FM transmitter
  • Modem

This is a truly amazing list of things to add to a small environment such as the EeePC. Each addition is accompanied by a screenshot of a Windows XP hardware listing of the particular item. The user stated that they wanted to be able to dual-boot into Linux as well; too bad they didn’t show the Linux support for these items.

Another thing: this article also includes a handsome list of links on the EeePC at the end; so go take a look!

Update: I just found this detailed review; it shows a lot about what the EeePC can do and is well-written.

FreeBSD on the fitPC and on the EeePC

FreeBSD is a nice environment, and I tend to gravitate to it (though I love Linux and Solaris as well). It does tend to work better in smaller environments than either Linux or Solaris.

There was recently a discussion of FreeBSD on the EeePC; it appears that while some items do not work (to be expected) it runs nicely and works nicely (including wireless). There was recently posted a simple introductory article which also refers to a comprehensive article on FreeBSD on the EeePC.

There was also an article (with followup) about running FreeBSD on the fitPC; in contrast to the EeePC, this sounds like it is not as good. However, the fitPC has less memory and a slower processor; it is unclear as to whether the processor is “fast enough” (I still use Pentium IIIs for my use!) or if it really is slow. It is, however, very surprising that the default Ubuntu install would be a graphical installation that swaps badly and comes without SSH.

The fitPC forums have a nice Linux on fitPC section, which also includes the BSDs as well. The biggest problem with FreeBSD seems to be its lack of a USB CDROM driver in the base kernel; however, apparently OpenBSD loads fine. Since the system has only 256M of memory, it perhaps should not be swamped with heavy desktop applications.

Modding the Asus Eee PC

It seems that people are already busy at work modifying the Asus Eee PC. Over at tnkgrl there are extensive pictures of the internals, and now a new post with detailed instructions on adding a USB Bluetooth adapter to it without losing the USB port.

The Eee PC community is already flourishing, with forums and more at eeeuser.com.

The Asus EeePC: GPL Violator?

It appears from this article by ITWire that the Asus EeePC may be in violation of the GPL.  The GPL is the copyright that covers the Linux kernel and specifies the rights and responsibilities given to the receiver of the copyrighted product (the kernel in this case).

Turns out that Asus has utilized the kernel with some modifications but has not released any of the source code – a direct violation of the GPL.  And with the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) filing new lawsuits on behalf of busybox (another GPL-licensed product) after resolving the last one to the benefit of busybox, I can’t help but imagine that Asus will tread carefully and will negotiate.  We’ll see.