May 14, 2009

Asus Eee PC and Easy Peasy 1.1

My mother needed to have open heart surgery this week and I needed a quick, no hassle way of staying connected to work. My surfboard sized Toshiba is a great semi-portable desktop replacement, but it isn't really well suited for adhoc Internet access, email and document processing in the hospital.

 I have seen the rave reviews of the Asus Eee PC 1000 hardware for a while, and for $500 delivered overnight from New Egg I felt like I could take the risk on it. I am a Debian guy and need to have something similar in capability to my regular laptop load, so while I was waiting for the overnight delivery I poked around for Debian or Debian-based distros for the Eee PC. I found the Easy Peasy site and downloaded the iso.

 After the little box arrived via FedEx, I grabbed it and the disk and shot off to the airport. The install was slick and the hardware all worked out of the box. I was able to grab some free WiFi at the airport with a click of the mouse and dropped in my openvpn keys for access to work. In no time I was up to date thanks to apt and productive as I needed to be.

I expected the keyboard to take some getting used to, but honestly my fingers found all the right keys with no problem at all. I also expected to be frustrated with the performance and the small screen size, but it is very responsive and the bright display has crisp letters that make using it a pleasure.

Every time I've taken it out to check mail or work on some code, the looks have been really amusing. People just don't believe a full powered PC can live in such a small case. Of course, I'm 6'1" and have a large, wide frame, so they could be just chuckling at the contrast in sizes.

I have to hand it to Asus and Easy Peasy. This system was exactly what I needed and worked far beyond my expectations. I now intend to make this system part of my normal work flow. It's nice to leave the system idling silently for communication like email and IM while I work code on my larger and more powerful laptop.  If you've been sitting on the fence about netbooks, it's time to try this one out.