9 Reasons Every Eee PC User Should Get Easy Peasy

In my previous write-up about my six-month journey with the Eee PC, I spent a fair amount of time griping about the default install OS. Though a few of my complaints, such as battery life and keyboard, were primarily related to the laptop itself, most were more software-oriented.

Shortly after penning that review and opening up my Eee PC to use the version Firefox that was inside (there was no means to update to 3.x) I realized I had to change something. With all of the system software hopelessly out of date, the OS wasn’t merely annoying, but dangerous.

So, I did a little bit of research, learned how to install Linux distros using UNetbootin and raced to download an ISO of the latest Ubuntu version.

The experience, however, was less than rewarding. Though the install worked perfectly, requiring only a free 1 GB pen drive, which they now give out in cereal boxes, Ubuntu was a poor fit for the Eee.

The wifi didn’t work properly, the OS gladly ate up much of my precious screen real estate and it required some brutal hacking to get everything running.

Then I read about Easy Peasy, formerly known as Ubuntu Eee (I’m forced to assume the name was dropped fr trademark reasons). I gave it a whirl and it was a like a breath of fresh air. Not only did everything work out of the box, but the system was up to date, shiny and new.

It was what my computer should have been when I first plucked it from the box.

Need more reasons to try Easy Peasy on your Eee? I’ll give you nine, especially if you’re stuck with their version of Xandros. If you want to make it ten, leave a comment and make a suggestion.

9. Working Sound
The 701 model of the Eee PC had a strange issue where the sound would sometimes be barely audible. This was caused by Also turning down the output volume to an almost nothing. This required going into the terminal and using alsamixer to turn up the volume as the GUI volume interface didn’t make enough of a difference.

Easy Peasy fixes this problem. The volume is loud and crisp, even loud enough to the point I have a hard time listening to it on full volume.

8. New Interface
I admit that I am a sucker for a new interface, but Easy Peasy really takes it to the next level. Easy Peasy takes the simple interface from the default install, adds a slew of new features to it, and makes it pretty.

Many out there believe that the Eee PC can’t do attractive graphics and speed at the same time. Easy Peasy proves them wrong while also using innovative task management system navigation to put everything you need at your fingertips, something the default OS failed to do.

7. New Software
Forgetting the updated applications (more on that in a moment), Easy Peasy makes it, well, easy, to install new apps. In fact, it comes with new applications, including GIMP, Evolution, Transmission, Ekiga, a slew of new games and even a remote desktop viewer. Best of all, you have a real package manager that lets you install new applications without any hacking.

6. Battery Life
One of my initial gripes was that my battery life seemed to have dwindled to nearly nothing after about six months of usage, however, installing Easy Peasy seemed to be a shot in the arm for the system in that area. I won’t say that it has brought it back to where it was when I opened the box nor have I done a full test from a full charge to dead, but estimates by the OS indicate that I’m getting about 2 hours per charge, even with wifi on, and my rough math seems to jive with those numbers.

5. No Unnecessary Features
The Eee PC’s crowded keyboard is rough on any typist, but when added to taskbar app that lets you change to Chinese, even on accident, it becomes a nightmare. If you need that functionality, there is a way to add it, but if you don’t it doesn’t come by default. In fact, other than the usual caps and num lock indicator, nothing on the desktop alters your keyboard input.

Likewise, there’s no forced anti-virus application installed on the desktop and that helps to speed up boot times and keep the system running smoothly. After all, forcing an anti-virus on Linux is a bit like immunizing against the black plague. Sure, it might be a good idea, but is it really necessary?

4. Working Wifi
Out of the box, the default OS’ wifi didn’t support WPA, requiring a patch to fix the problem. Even after patched, I had to log into my wireless network every time I wanted to surf the Web, even though my password was supposedly stored. Even with vanilla Ubuntu, the wifi didn’t work correctly, requiring non-standard drivers.

With Easy Peasy, the wireless works out of the box and it remembers your passwords, logging you on every time you fire it up. It is that simple. You forget you even have an encrypted network.

3. A Better Distro
Though it sounds like a broad statement, Ubuntu is a better distro than the version of Xandros the Eee uses by default. It is better supported, has a much larger following, a bigger development community, more frequent updates and better financial backing. Though Easy Peasy itself is a somewhat backwater hack modification, the fact that it is built upon Ubuntu gives me piece of mind.

It’s at least better than being a backwater hack of Xandros.

2. Up To Date Software
If you have one of the old Xandros-based 701s, there’s a good chance you still have old versions of all your applications. New ones were painfully slow to come down the pipe from Asus and the system update software was a pain to use. Sure, there was a real package manager hidden away, but its repositories were limited so that, without installing unofficial apps, you would never have up to date software. This is both inconvenient and insecure.

Easy Peasy fixes that with regular updates, a real package management system and the latest software constantly available. No more using outdated versions of Firefox.

1. Faster
Computer speed is a very subjective thing and appearances can easily be deceiving. It is hard to do an A/B comparison without a second Eee PC of the same model and, even with such a comparison, it would meaningless without some heavy duty benchmarks. Still, Easy Peasy feels faster than the default install, especially when running the default OS in desktop mode.

There are many potential explanations for this, a newer, more refined distro, less stuff running in the background (no forced anti-virus, input modifier, etc.) or applications that are fully patched, but the OS seems to be faster running the various apps including both Firefox and OpenOffice.org.

Even running it with Pidgin IMing away in the background didn’t seem to slow it down. Easy Peasy is light on its toes, slightly edging out the default OS and beating the heck out of the regular install of Ubuntu.

The bottom line is pretty simple. THIS is how the Eee PC should have been shipped. With this OS, nearly all of my gripes and complaints about it would have been done away with. My only regret is that I didn’t do this on day one. Instead, I went to two countries and nearly a dozen conferences with the old OS and I am beating myself up.

I feel so stupid.

Since Easy Peasy is, obviously, GPL, I would really appreciate it if Asus would just make this the default OS for future Linux-based Eee PCs. Though the install isn’t bad, not to someone who’s familiar with installing Linux distros, I see no reason why I should spend hours downloading and installing an OS that could just come pre-packaged.

It’s time to right this wrong Asus and, if you’re an Eee PC user that is still on the default OS, it is time to take action. Every second with the default OS is a second wasted with an inferior laptop.

Don’t let another day go by without Easy Peasy on your Eee PC. I don’t usually do wholesale endorsements of products and I’ll admit that there are a few problems with it (microphone issues seem do be at the top of the chart and I also seem some graphical glitches) but when you compare the drawbacks to what is gained, there is no contest.

Easy Peasy is an truly lives up to it’s name, being one “easy peasy” choice to make.


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