Last friday, I got myself a shiny EeePC 901. The machine is extremely nice and the bundled software JustWorks if you have very simple needs and are happy with the very few packages that are available. Battery life is very good too with wifi constantly on.
However, there are a number of oddities in the Xandros installation, some are just annoying and others really piss me off. Without any specific order:
- It comes with mono, python, java, make, cpp, gdb but without gcc? And no, it is not available in their repos eiher.
- You can’t enable/disable bluetooth without disabling the wireless card. It is possible to do it on the command line so it is just a software stupidity.
- The installed vim version lacks support for mouse and there’s no gvim or a full vim package in their repos. Also, no indent is either installed or installable.
- The GUI does not support WPA2 though it is possible to use it through wpa-supplicant
- A Windows XP theme for icewm? Come on…
- Stupidly big fonts and cursors, because there’s so much screen space to spare.
- Their apt repositories are b0rked and some updates don’t work.
- The only PDF reader available is acroread.
- StarOffice instead of OpenOffice? Yeah, quoting spb: “for full enterprise readiness“.
- No kernel source, so building additional modules (iptables, additional filesystems, …) is impossible.
- External, USB drives get mounted as ‘D:’, ‘E:’, ‘F:’….
- Your user has to be ‘user’ and many things hardcode /home/user. Yes, it is easy to change, it is just annoying
- Samba and parport are enabled by default and there is no way to stop or disable them from the gui.
- The terminal is hidden, an uxterm is available through Ctrl+Alt+T
That list is not complete but it is enough to ilustrate the point that the Xandros installation really sucks.
First things to do to get a not stupid environment:
- Edit /usr/sbin/services.sh and /etc/fastservices and remove stuff like samba, portmap and lindvd.
- Install xandros-wpa-supplicant needed for networks such as eduroam.
- Copy /etc/X11/icewm to ~/.icewm to enable multiple workspaces and remove the SOS and tips buttons.
- Install a proper theme (ThinBlack is a very good one) and a proper cursor theme such as DMZ-Vanilla.
- Run sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales AND edit /etc/kde3/kdeglobals to get the system in english instead of dealing with wonky translations. Run something like aptitude or synaptic to remove locale-specific packages.
- Run kcontrol to set smaller fonts
In theory, it is possible to use the debian apt repositories using pinning, however, I’m wondering if that’s better than just installing Debian on the EeePC.
All in all, a very nice machine and hardware and a very stupid software. Fortunately, the latter can be replaced.