Monday, September 13

Just a little FYI

As a heads up to those who didn't know - and a gentle reminder to those who did - I'm deploying to Africa today, where I'll spend a year working as an UN Military Observer. Blog posts will be few and far between on this blog I think, but should be more plentiful on my other blog... even if the subject of that one is radically different from this one.
So take care and enjoy your Eees everyone!

Sunday, August 8

PuppEee v1.0 released!

And it's a beuty!

A couple of broken tools removed, but nothing broken in the process as far as I can see. For the most part, my review of RC2 still holds - only more so. And I'm not sure what Jemimah did, but it seems that my battery life while watching movies has improved considerable... I just finished watching two 90 minutes movies back to back on my big battery, and I still are showing 60% left.

I've been waffling a bit lately between using the Netbook Launcher desktop versus the more standard Rox - after I've noticed that I launch most software from the 'start menu' anyway.. speedwise they both feels equally snappy.

While PuppEee may not take over as my primary OS on my Eee, this release is making a brilliant attempt to do so - who knows what I'll do in the future?

Tuesday, July 27

PuppEee RC8 posted

While some of us have been slacking off in the summer, Jemimah has worked on PuppEee Relase Candidate 8. I've downloaded and installed it (painless - it easily accepted my old savefiles) and have messed around for a couple of hours with it.

So far, I can't find anything that is broken, or  not working as it should. I'll report back when I given it a more througout run - or the 'real deal' is released. In the meantime, go grab RC8 - it's worth the download.

Thursday, July 1

PuppEee 4.3X Release Candidate 7

Jemimah has been hard at work while the rest of us have hardly been working, and has  put out RC7. So far I have detected no real (ie; visible to me) changes from RC6, apart from the updated Chrome browser. The minor bug in the boot script that caused me some issues with RC6 seems to be fixed - to be fair she put a patch out for RC6 as well, so it ended up being a very, very minor issue anyway.

An definite upside was how it recognised and loaded my save file reasonable seamlessly - just taking a couple of minutes to update the file system. All the add-ons I had under FireFox still works, as do Xchat.

More review when I had time to use it more.

Thursday, June 24

Petition to ASUS a new, small Eee

Like your small Eee? Or would like a small - that is, a 7" or 9" - Eee? Zoev at EeeUser has written up a nice petition to ASUS to release a new model:

Petition to ASUS for 70x Model Petition

Go sign it :)

Tuesday, May 25

PuppEee 4.3X RC2

It happened again... just as I was about to write up a review of the latest beta, the first release candidate rolled out. And then, as I got halfway through the review, the second release candidate came out. The third one is probably just around the corner... It's amazing how quickly the developer of this nice little distro works.

Overall, I'm (still) extremely impressed by how much have been shoehorned into such a small package. Not only does PuppEee give you a full distro in a bit more than 120Mb, but it's stuffed to the gills with tools for browsing, social networking, productivity and much, much more.

I really like the fact that the last beta and the RC gives you the option to pick and choose between not only x-servers, but also windows managers and desktops. Right now I'm running it with LxLaucher on top of FLWM under Xvesa - about as lightweight and usable as I need. And if I want to switch desktop, windows manager or even X-server, I don't even have to reboot any more. All that's needed is to restart the X-server and you're home free. Most impressive.

The selection of internet aware apps should cover most users needs well - in addition to the obvious browser and email client (Chrome and Claws, respectively), PuppEee offers a website mirroring tool, a FTP client, pidgin and much more - pretty much anything a modern internet user can need.

Productivity tools are also well catered for, with AbiWord and Gnumeric as the two big office tools on top of a host of text editors and other applications. For those in a more artistic line of work, a full range of image editors, managers and viewers - a very nice change from RC1 to RC2 is the added ability to view djvu-files. It's not like I have a lot of them, but more than a few I had been limited to viewing at my desktop until now. Two small applets that will come in handy for me is the Expense Tracker and/or the HomeBank finance management applet - either should be useful in keeping track of my money when I go to Sudan for a year.

But all is not work - the selection of games and multimedia software is pretty staggering by itself - a nice range from solitaire to arcade, and enough players, editors and mixers to keep a video freak and an audiophile happy. Me? I'll settle for a nice game of Space Invaders and watching some movies, thank you.

And don't even mention utilities - this distro is packed full. One I really like is Startmount; it lets you specify which drives should be mounted at start up, and what (if any) software that should be opened as you boot.

Now, a full, or even partial, list of all the installed software would take too long in this post (not to say I wont post one later), but for now, lets talk desktops, window managers and x-servers.

The RC2 offers four choices as far as desktops (file managers) goes; ROX Filer (the default) which acts much like any other computer desktop, Netbook Launcer (as far as I know, a tweaked LxLauncher and also my current favourite) which organizes everything into useful tabs for easy access, and PCManFM which I haven't tried. The fourth choice is 'None', which I'm slightly worried about trying... I'm sure it's safe though. PCManFM looks quite interesting, but I've gravitated towards the Netbook Launcher since I like that style on the smaller screen. Although, it may be that I'm just lazy and like getting my software on a silver platter.

For the actual windows management, you'll get three choices - IceWM (the same as the default Xandros uses on my Eee) which acts pretty normal, FLWM (my current favourite) which plays nicer on the small screen by placing the title bar on the left side of the windows) and OpenBox which to me looks very much like IceWM. To me the second choice makes the most sense - on a small widescreen such as the Eee (in particular the 70X series), horizontal real estate is more plentiful than vertical real estate. FLWM lets you conserve the later by using the former.

For the x-server you get the normal choice of two; X-org, which is heavier and more capable, or X-vesa which is lighter and loads faster. Choose the former if you need accelerated graphics or OpenGL, while the later is good if you care about boot times.

Some screen shots:
 This is the Netbook Launcher desktop coupled with FLWM - showing the contents of the Internet tab.

This is the Rox Filer desktop coupled with FLWM - again showing how to get to the Internet applications.

Running the Evice document viewer under FLWM - note the titlebar and max/min/close buttons along the left side of the window.

This is the Netbook Launcher desktop coupled with IceWM - showing the contents of the Internet tab. Note how the bar at the bottom of the screen don't hide under the launcher, eating precious vertical pixels.

This is the Rox Filer desktop coupled with IceWM - again showing how to get to the Internet applications. This is how PuppEee will look out-of-the-box - at least in RC2.

Running the Evice document viewer under IceWM - note the titlebar and max/min/close buttons along the top of the window, eating pixels.

Overall, a very decent little Linux, and well suited for running on your Eee. I'm not sure I can recommend it as the only OS you need, but right now it's of three I boot, and the one I prefer for surfing and other web-work.

Friday, March 19

RAM upgrade

Thanks to a kind soul at the EeeUser forums, I got my hands on a 1Gb PC2-6400 RAM chip. Now, despite the fact that my Eee originally shipped with PC2-5300 RAM, I was 99% sure based on posts in the forums that the faster RAM should work - the MoBo would simply down clock it to suit.

Long story short... yeah, it works. Works wonderfully! Xandros is moving quicker than before, WinXP is trotting along at an almost acceptable rate (keeping in mind that I run it of a USB stick, and PupEee... well, PupEee was so snappy to begin with it's hard to say if there is any improvement.

Having armed myself with a screwdriver and a pot of coffee, I prepared my Eee for brain surgery:

Above is a screen shot from Xandros before the upgrade, showing the available RAM - this is what I've seen since I got the Eee almost two years ago.

The envelope with the new-to-me RAM. Securely wrapped, capable of withstanding what the postal service dished out, it arrived in pristine condition.

My Eee on the operating table, brain case opened, just before the lobotomy.

Just carefully insert the orbitoclast behind the eye socket and swing it medially and laterally to separate the frontal lobes from the... eh... wrong handbook. Sorry... where was I.. yes; undo the two hatches on either side and carefully lift the RAM chip out of the socket.

There you have it - one Eee with a terminal lack of memory... but no worries, in a few minutes the patient will feel a lot better.
New memory module inserted... all that was needed at this point was a light and even preasure on the two upper corners to make the module snap in like...
...this. The patient is about to be sutured up and brought out of anaesthesia.
No worries - this wont even leave a scar - unlike my every day treatment of my Eee. If you look carefully, you can see a scratch on the RAM cover.

A quick peek at the BIOS - yeah, looks gooood. Should be smooth sailing from here on in.

Recreated the same screen shot as above - except the RAM is twice as high!

Sunday, March 7

Problem with PupEee

I've been playing with the latest beta of PupEee 4.31 for a bit, with the intent to do a 'proper' review, but I have hit a problem.

Or rather, I have not. Apart from a vague desire to replace Pidgin with xChat, there is nothing that don't work as I expect it to. In fact, pretty much everything works better on the small screen of my 4G than I expected.

Booting is fast too, after I switched from Xorg to Xvesa my Eee now boots PupEee of a slooow SD card in about 30 seconds, and only takes 8-10 seconds after that to have a stable connection to my home WiFi - both is actually ever so slightly faster than the Xandros install I have on the SSD!

The offered suite of software may not be engulfing enough for everyones taste, but it covers the basics and covers it well. Connectivity is well covered by Chrome for web, Claw for email and Pidgin for IM. Creativity and office work is taken care of by AbiWord, Gnumeric, mtPaint and InkScapeLite. For those wanting to plan ahead there is the Osmo personal organiser, and if all you wish to do is to lay back and watch a movie gxine seems to handle pretty much every codec I've tried so far.

And that's just the stuff on the desktop - once you start going through the menu the choices simply multiply. Not bad at all for a distro weighting in at about 100 Mb.

Monday, March 1

PupEee 4.31 Beta 6

Go grab it - just replace the old files on your USB stick or SD card, delete eee-435.sfs and boot up.
First boot takes a little longer than normal, but the second one is nice and quick again. Not much has changed, according to post #109 in this thread, but it looks a little slicker and nothing seems broken.

Saturday, February 13

PupEee 4.31 Beta 5

I've been running the latest beta of PupEee 4.31 for two days now, and I am impressed.

In addition to cleaning out the last leftovers from SeaMonkey, the most noticeable and useful change is the fact that eee-control now is accessible from a quick launch icon on the task bar. One stop shopping for most eee-specific settings, including over-clocking if you like to burn your battery faster.

Other useful additions include a battery meter and CPU temperature gauge on the task bar... almost makes my install of pwidgets redundant, but the eye candy is soo pretty...

Overall the most important improvement of PupEee 4.32 over previous versions is the change to Chrome and pwireless2 - those two changes alone is worth the trouble of upgrading.

PupEee 4.31 is discussed in this thread at, has it's own forum here, and can be downloaded from this site.
Above: Beta 5, with eee-control, powertop and chrome running

Below: The various functions on the task bar

Monday, February 8

More PupEee stuff

One of the things I discovered that I really like under PupEee is the multiple workspaces - it's almost as good as having a multi-monitor setup. In one workspace i can have my browser and IM running, in the other I can open AbiWord and get some typing done - all without cluttering the narrow task bar too much. And I can simply change between the two with a simple key-combo.

Never saw the utility of running multiple work spaces when I'm fiddling with Linux on my desktop, but on a pocket-able computer with a small screen it's a godsend.

Sunday, February 7

PupEee 4.31 Beta 3

Recently i find that I do more and more of my 'serious' work under PupEee - PupEee 4.31 beta 3 to be exact. There is a number of reasons for this, firstly the rather impressive boot time (30 sec from I pick the SD card in the boot menu until the desktop is usable, 41 sec until my WiFi is connected). The change from SeaMonkey to Chrome as the browser certainly helps too - SM never felt like a modern browser to me, and since I don't download mail to my Eee the loss of the built in email client is no loss at all.

I also like that 4.31 - or at least the betas - is not downloaded as ISO files, but rather as separate files. This means that updating the beta is as simple as replacing one squash file (.sfs) with a new one and the distro is updated.

Pretty much the only addition I've done to the basic distro is adding pwidgets - useful little widgets sitting along the side of the screen giving me the basic info on the status of my Eee.

PupEee in a very '60 style

A somewhat calmer PupEee

Monday, January 18

Not much has happened

Not too much has happened since the last post - my Eee simply works as it should.

The RunCore SSD I won is working wonderfully - from a subjective point of view it serves up files faster, and it consumes less power while doing it as well. For now it works as my repository of movies while I'm at work, but Really Soon Now™ I'll try to put a WinXP install on it - hopefully it'll be somewhat faster than the USB stick I'm currently running WinXP from.

The other piece of news is that I've updated from PupEee 4.2 to the 4.3 Beta - not much have changed apart from the connection manager, and that works much, much better than it used to. It also seems to boot somewhat faster, but I have no hard numbers to back that up. Next step will be to install an up to date FireFox on it and I'm set.