Last September, on my “main” blog, I posted a list of ten applications which I would want to have on every computer I owned.
To save you looking ( 😉 ), these were:
This isn’t an exhaustive list—and isn’t intended to be—but I thought I’d revisit my choices, insofar as I’ve been able to get them working (or not) on my Eee 701 (running, at the present time, Eeebuntu 3).
Mostly, the news is good. Eeebuntu 3 comes with a number of the above apps (Firefox, VLC, OpenOffice, Inkscape, The GIMP) preinstalled, meaning that I had to install only the other five myself. (Of these, I found four in the software repositories—easily installable via apt-get or Synaptic—whilst the last one (TweetDeck) just took a few moments to install via their Web site.)
(In passing: if you’ve been following E7P since late last year, you may recall that at that time I reported being unable to get the Adobe AIR runtime installed on my 701 with the default Xandros OS, meaning that TweetDeck was, literally, a non-starter. Fortunately, under Eeebuntu, TweetDeck installs without complaint, although how well it actually works on the 701 is a subject I’ll come to shortly.)
OK, that’s getting the ten apps onto the 701 in the first place. How well do they run, once they are on there?
Well, for the most part, well enough, as long as you’re not too demanding and bear in mind that the Eee 701 isn’t going to go toe-to-toe with a fast desktop any time soon. Skype works beautifully on the 701, with the proviso (on Eeebuntu 3) that the sound may take a bit of tweaking to get “just right”, though that’s not Skype’s fault. Furthermore, Miro does a sterling job as a video podcast “catcher”, within the caveats connected with the 701’s small screen (of which more shortly, though it’s not a deal-breaker for me).
Firefox and OpenOffice won’t usually tax the 701 that much, though obviously if you’re viewing a document/page with lots of graphics and/or other multimedia, you might start to run up against memory issues, or (at worst) the processor could begin to struggle with (say) heavy-duty embedded video or Flash. (I haven’t seen much of this myself, but acknowledge that it could happen.)
Similarly, even with Eeebuntu, a high-quality video can leave the 701 a bit “out of breath”, especially if it’s running off batteries and therefore in “reduced power” mode. If you want to watch a DVD-rip captured at full quality (even standard-definition) with VLC, I’d advise a fast USB storage device and AC power to hand, or that playback will end up choppier than the Atlantic in a hurricane.
Unsurprisingly, the 701’s WVGA (800×480) screen can mean that some apps struggle to fit into the available space. Inkscape and The GIMP are usable enough if your imaging needs are modest, and/or don’t mind scrolling around a bit, whilst you’ll need to play around with Audacity’s toolbar settings if you want to see more than about 50 pixels’ height of the waveform you’re editing.
Furthermore, TweetDeck can fit only about three columns in a maximised window (with their “narrow” setting enabled), and about two entries in each column vertically if you have the “entry” panel open. If this doesn’t bother you, no problem—I like TweetDeck enough that I can live with the constraints, but I keep Twitux on my 701 just in case.
TweetDeck can take over twenty seconds to load, but at least it runs tolerably well. Unfortunately, Stellarium (with its heavy 3D-rendering) struggles to manage more than 3-4 frames per second, making it all but unusable on my 701; astronomy types may wish to consider a less demanding application for their sky views.
There are a few apps I would now want to add to my “must-have” list—Dropbox, TrueCrypt and KeePassX, to name but three—and as it happens, I am writing a follow-up post to the original which I hope to publish at the Sidingsound blog within the next couple of weeks. Until then, I’m pleased to report that, as long as you’re prepared to make an allowance or two for the Eee 701’s reduced size and power, it’s a capable enough platform to run some favourite useful applications.