New Toy: Asus EEE PC 901

User review of my new Asus EEE PC 901

Photo of Greg Harvey
Sat, 2009-01-17 22:39By greg

I've Tweeted about this too much, so Twitter followers will probably be sick of hearing about it, but the other day my new Asus EEE PC 901 with Linux pre-installed arrived. In fact, I'm typing this blog post on it right now.

Do I like it? Hell, yes! This thing ROCKS! I'm *slightly* disappointed that a review I read saying it came with (RedHat-based) Linpus turned out to be false. In fact it ships with a variant of (Debian-based) Xandros. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Debian or RedHat - I don't much care. But most hosting companies use CentOS, which is RedHat based, so for simplicity I prefer to go for RedHat-based Linux distros.

Fortunately there is an EEEdora distro (and EEEUbuntu for the Deb guys and gals) should I want to go RedHat, though to be entirely honest, the Xandros version that Asus ships with the machine, after you enable Advanced Mode, is perfectly acceptable. It's almost certainly not worth switching to EEEUbuntu.

It also ships with the latest version of Java (I guess Sun StarOffice needs it) so Eclipse works great. I use Europa (Eclipse 3.2) just to be safe, with Subclipse, Aptana and PHPEclipse. Subversion seems to be a bit of a faff to get (it's not in the Asus repositories or the common additional ones) but with Subclipse I don't really need it.

I also installed XAMPP (or rather, LAMPP) which worked immediately and without issue. It is supposed to run from /opt/lampp but there is not enough disk space to install something as big as LAMPP on the system drive, so I created a /home/apps/lampp directory on the 15GB home partition and symbolically linked /opt/lampp to that directory. This probably isn't necessary, but I did it to be safe.

Hardware-wise, the keyboard is *just* big enough to be comfortable. It wouldn't want to be any smaller, but I guess that makes the design perfect. Only just not too small. Ditto with the screen. And the zoom and scroll gestures on the trackpad they've stolen from Apple are awesome! 20GB solid state drive, 1GB RAM, 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, USB, SD slot, wi-fi, etc.

All that, and I was very impressed that the camera (needs enabling in the BIOS, along with Bluetooth), speakers and microphone all working with Skype straight out of the box. This may sound a trivial thing to be happy about, but Skype for Linux is by no means a foregone conclusion!

All this for £239, all inclusive, courtesy of eBuyer. Top value! =)