Eee 701 Planetoid


Raspberry Pi ordered at last…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tim @ 17:23

Apologies for the total lack of updates for a while here—I’ve been kept busy with the infamous “other things” (aren’t we all?), but also… well, to be honest, I’m pretty much “ticking over” with the Eee. I’ve got the system more or less the way I want it, and I doubt there’s going to be much to report on the Eee front for a while (unless I feel like telling you how I managed to sort out the current package-update failures, and that depends on whether I do sort them out!).

That said, this blog could be about to get a shot in the proverbial ARM… pun intended 😉

Back in January, I posted here about the Raspberry Pi, a $35 ARM-based computer on a board the size of a credit card, aimed at helping schoolchildren in the UK to start learning how to program. Obviously, techies around the world got enthused, and immense interest in the Raspberry Pi meant that even two months after its launch, to date only a few fortunate computing fans have managed to order and take delivery of the first run of “RasPi’s”.

Well, you will shortly be able to count yours truly amongst their number, as I have just placed my order for one of these little beauties 🙂 I understand it should be despatched within the next few days, and hopefully that means I should take delivery of my Raspberry Pi some time next week.

I’m planning to run the ARM version of Arch Linux on the RasPi when it arrives (though I may settle for Debian/ARM if Arch/ARM is too lacking in features—watch this space), so I hope I can transfer at least some of what I’ve learned with Arch/x86 on the Eee, to the Pi.

What I don’t know yet, is what all this will mean for this blog. My first choice would be to rename it, to accommodate coverage of my experiences with the RasPi as well as the Eee—however, I need to look at what a change of blog title would mean for the URL, and ensure that links to the blog are not severed. If I can’t change the name without these issues, I may have to set up a “sister” blog for the Pi, though I’d rather not do this if I can help it, as I’d like to keep the Eee and Pi material together as far as possible.

Anyway, thanks for keeping E7P in your feed reader (!), and watch this space for further developments…



Snippets: lxrandr, PDFs in Chromium, and a VERY old friend…

Filed under: Software — Tags: , — Tim @ 12:50

GUI tool for display settings

(Please bear in mind during the following, that my Eee is not running any desktop environment (DE—i.e.GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, etc…)

For some time, I’ve been looking for a non-fiddly (and preferably GUI) way of switching display modes on my Eee, especially if an external VGA monitor is connected. The basic tool for controlling displays, xrandr, is powerful and flexible, but also quite difficult to use if one is not gifted with a particularly good memory for complicated command-line strings (especially if more than one display is involved).

Screenshot of lxrandr


There are a number of graphical front-ends for xrandr, but I found all the ones that I tried, were either clunky, buggy, partially or entirely ineffective, or a combination of these. However, the other day (and I can’t remember where), I read a suggestion that Linux users not employing a DE, could try lxrandr, the display settings GUI used in the LXDE desktop environment.

Installing lxrandr isn’t difficult, as it can be found in the main Arch repositories—a simple sudo pacman -S lxrandr should be sufficient. As you can see from the screenshot, the program makes it very easy to activate, deactivate and configure displays; I have used it to control the output from my Eee to a VGA monitor, and as long as xrandr can detect display modes and the like, then I imagine lxrandr should be able to do so too.

In short: if you’re after a simple but effective GUI for a Linux system without a DE, then you could do far worse than try out lxrandr.

Enabling “native” PDF viewing in Chromium

The default Web browser I use on the Eee is Chromium (basically, the open-sourced relative of Google Chrome without the Google branding and other “hooks”). In most respects, the Chromium in the Arch Linux repositories is more or less identical to Chrome in functionality, but one missing feature—which you may or may not miss—is Chrome’s built-in PDF-viewing functionality.

If you do miss it, the Arch wiki reveals a few options for PDF-enabling Chromium; my preferred option, which I’ve used on the Eee, is to install chromium-stable-libpdf from the AUR. This seems to work without a blip, and Chromium auto-updates from then onwards without losing the PDF feature, so it’s worth a try if you want this (and/or are looking for an alternative to Adobe Reader, Evince, xpdf and their ilk…).

And the “old friend”…

Screenshot of the NCSA Mosaic Web browser

NCSA Mosaic on my Eee, "displaying" the Google home page...

Time to show my age: the first Web browser I ever saw, was NCSA Mosaic, running on Windows 3.1x in the autumn of 1994. It was soon overtaken by Netscape, and I didn’t think much about Mosaic until recently, when I learned someone has been modifying the X11 Mosaic source code, so it will compile and run on modern Linux systems. Moreover, as I suspected would happen, someone has added a Mosaic package to the AUR, so I just couldn’t resist finding out if I could get the ancient browser going on my 701…

And here is a screenshot to prove it: NCSA Mosaic running on my Eee under Arch Linux (the screenshot was taken from a 1280×1024 external display, in case you wondered why it looks larger than 800×480)!

There’s probably a whole blog post to be written about how well Mosaic copes (a) on a modern Linux system, and (b) on the Web after fifteen years of leaving Mosaic behind, but suffice it to say, the screenshot on the right is supposed to be the Google home page. You may draw what conclusions you like from this… 🙂


Raspberry Pi: a PC in your pocket?

Filed under: Hardware, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tim @ 14:53
Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi,
originally uploaded by ubuntunewsru.

If you follow the tech and gadget press—and perhaps even the “regular” media’s technology supplements—you may have got wind of a British-initiated IT project which has garnered a considerable amount of interest in recent months… and has now grabbed my attention too 🙂

The product in question is the Raspberry Pi, and although it is officially aimed at schools and the education market, the device already has computing and Linux fans straining at the leash to get their paws on one.

Judging by the coverage, the reasons are not hard to understand. In short, the Raspberry Pi is a functioning computer, with (on the “Model B”) an ARM processor, 256Mb RAM, a OpenGL-capable graphics system with HDMI and component video output, audio out, 10/100 Ethernet, USB and 5V micro-USB power… all built onto a circuit board the size of a credit card, and likely to cost around UKP25. Initially, the device will be sold “as is”, without a case or enclosure, though from what I have read, there is no shortage of enthusiasts stepping up to design custom cases, or suggest alternative enclosures (an empty tin of Altoid mints seems to be a popular one!).

There are plenty of news sites picking up on the potential of a device like this. To pick one out at random, The Guardian has given the Pi some attention in its Education section, focusing on the avowed aim of the project to revitalise the teaching of computing in schools (and perhaps even inspire a new generation of coders and ‘hackers’ (in the non-criminal, inventive sense of the term)).

OK… so why am I posting on my Eee blog about the “R-Pi”? One reason is that I’ve always been interested in small and inexpensive computers, from the Psion Series 3x and Series 5mx I owned in the late 90s, through to the Eee 701 itself, and the Raspberry Pi looks like it packs a lot of functionality into a very small and cheap package.

Furthermore, as a leaf through this very blog should reveal, I am a keen Linux “tinkerer” when it comes to my Eee, and the R-Pi provides ample scope for experimentation, with HDMI, USB and Ethernet connectivity in a low-power device. There are a number of prominent Linux distributions which have been ported to the ARM processor family, including Debian and Fedora, but most of interest to me is Arch Linux ARM, as I could hopefully “port” my experience with Arch’s x86 sibling to the R-Pi.

Finally: quite simply, my imagination is fired by the idea of a usable computer which could fit in a pocket. Any HDMI display could be used as a monitor, as well as just about any keyboard or pointing device with a USB interface—even a combined one with a wireless “dongle” should work—so the device should be usable wherever you could find a “spare” TV or HDMI-equipped monitor. I’m not the only one thinking that the R-Pi could make an extremely affordable “media centre” computer, and look forward to seeing how that pans out…

The word is that the Raspberry Pi will be made available to purchase from their Web site from the end of this month (January 2012), and I for one will be keeping an eye on this very closely.


Automounting removable drives with devmon

Filed under: Linux, Software — Tags: , , , , , , — Tim @ 18:46

One of the early issues I grappled with when I installed Arch Linux on my Eee, was that removable drives were not mounted automatically when connected—i.e. it was not a case of “plug and play”.

This isn’t a case of “oh, Linux can’t do that”—distributions like Ubuntu come ready to automount removable drives “out of the box”. This behaviour is standard with desktop environments such as GNOME or KDE (which usually take care of it themselves), but as you’ll know if you’ve been reading here for a bit, my Eee 701 isn’t running a DE, but “simply” the Fluxbox window manager (mostly for the sake of speed).

Also, the “keep it simple” philosophy of Arch Linux, doesn’t tend to add features “by default” because not all users will want or need them. If you want your Arch system to include a given feature, most likely the maintainers and community have provided the means (applications and guidance) to add it, but it’s down to the user to do the “donkey work” from there.

I certainly wanted to have automounting enabled on my Eee, so after some Googling and Arch wiki/forum-ing I found a udev rule which looked as if it would fit the bill. And so it did… within limitations. The rule would create a mountpoint directory within /media/, and mount the drive contents there; however, it wouldn’t “clean up” after itself, leaving the mountpoint directory within /media/ once the drive was umounted. Also, the rule usually failed to mount some drive volumes, and most annoyingly, wouldn’t mount the disc inside my USB CD/DVD drive.

This last is what led me to the Arch wiki page on udev, which suggested using a “udev wrapper script” (these have their own wiki page) for handling optical drives. The wrapper page in turn put forward a few candidates, of which devmon came at the top of the list. It’s in the AUR rather than the main Arch repositories, but no matter—I built the package and installed devmon as per the instructions on its home page. I also moved the “old” udev rule to another location where it couldn’t be accessed by udev itself, just in case it might disagree with the newcomer.

In short: how I wish I’d found devmon earlier.

So far, it has handled the mounting of almost every device I have “thrown” at it, including my optical drive. I have assigned a Fluxbox key combination (Ctrl-Alt-J) to devmon‘s command for umounting and ejecting an optical disc, though I’d prefer to find out how to have devmon eject the disc on receiving an umount from elsewhere (e.g. the wmvolman dockapp, which doesn’t even display the mounted optical disc). The script also removes the device’s mountpoint upon umounting, which I definitely appreciate.

The only “drive” that devmon has yet to work with, is the “mass memory” on my Nokia N8, which the old udev rule couldn’t handle either. I suspect this is something to do with the device number that shows up when the phone is connected to the Eee in “mass storage” mode (/dev/sdX rather than /dev/sdX1), but this is something I have to look into further when I can be bothered 🙂 It’s not the fault of devmon, as far as I can see, as the udev rule also exhibited the same issue. (Update (2011/10/17): I have a lead on this—see the update below…)

In summary: if you’re assembling a Linux system without GNOME or KDE (and certainly if you want to use a “light” window manager like Fluxbox or Openbox), but you would still like the system to automount removable drives, you owe it to yourself at least to give devmon a try.

Update (2011/10/17):

I received an email from the developer of devmon, who judging by the script’s home page, is often on hand to help users who run into issues. Between us, we confirmed my suspicions that devmon isn’t the source of the N8 mounting problem—it looks to be a bug in udisks, which devmon interacts with.

Just like to point out I haven’t had any other issues with the script, and am grateful to “IgnorantGuru” for helping to clear that up 🙂


Lightweight network access with wicd

Filed under: Linux, Software — Tags: , , , — Tim @ 18:42

One of the double-edged features of Arch Linux, is that it encourages the user to put together a software system which suits their needs, and not necessarily the system which someone else has assembled for them.

That’s not meant as a criticism—Linux distros like Ubuntu are great if you want/need a workable OS “out of the box”. However, as I’ve written here before, it’s not what I wanted for my Eee 701—my aim was to put together a “leaner” OS for the machine, which would use as many “lightweight” alternatives to the usual GNOME and KDE applications as possible.

Desktop environments like GNOME do a lot for the user, that they don’t always realise—one example is GNOME’s NetworkManager. It sits unobtrusively in the GNOME panel, quietly doing its best to connect the user to wired and wireless networks. If you want a Linux setup without GNOME and its associated apps, but would still like a measure of “hand-holding” managing your network connections, what is the alternative?

Image of wicd graphical and console clients

wicd graphical and console clients, running under Arch Linux (with Fluxbox)

For me: the answer is wicd. Wicd (pronounced “wicked”, apparently) is a network manager for Linux, which at its simplest has no GNOME or KDE dependencies, so it is well-suited to running under lightweight window managers like Fluxbox or IceWM (and is installed as part of quite a few “light” Linuxes, such as Zenwalk). In fact, wicd doesn’t need to run under X at all—it operates as a client-server application, where the server (daemon) does all the network-connection work, and you use a client application to interact with it. There are graphical (Python/GTK+) and console (ncurses) clients, so you can choose which you prefer (or need) to use.

Should you wish to give wicd a spin on your Linux system, you should be able to install it via your package manager, or compile it if you prefer. You need to start the wicd daemon at boot time; in Arch Linux, I add it to the “daemons array” in /etc/rc.conf. (For the finer points of setting-up, the wicd page at the Arch wiki is most useful.)

Most of the time, I’ve found wicd a “set it and forget it” kind of application—it stays in the background and just gets on with managing your connections. It’s not perfect—sometimes it fails to reconnect a dropped wireless link (giving a “bad password” error, even if the password is given correctly), though I believe I read this is a DHCP client issue, rather than wicd specifically—but in general I find wicd a pretty essential part of my Eee’s software setup. I especially appreciate that because of its client/server design, wicd is always running on the Eee, whether I am using the graphical interface or console. In X, the graphical wicd client can always be found in the system tray, and checking the network link is just as easy at the command-line.

Compared with GNOME NetworkManager, there are a few missing features; the main one that I would like to see, is a graphical interface for managing VPN connections. The wicd FAQ states that direct VPN support is planned for version 2—in the meantime, wicd offers the option to trigger per-connection scripts (a bit fiddly-looking to set up, but probably better than nothing). The developers have also expressed an interest in adding options such as management of 3G modem connections, but it looks like a lack of resources is holding this back for the moment. I think I’d like to keep an eye on the VeryPluggableBackends development branch, though…

In short: if you’re looking to build a Linux system without GNOME or KDE, but still want help managing your network connections, wicd is definitely worth investigating.


My Eee Desktop – September 2011

Filed under: Desktops, Software — Tags: , , , — Tim @ 19:23

I’m back from my late summer break, and as autumn hoves into view, it feels like time to share my current Eee desktop:

Desktop screenshot image

My Eee Desktop - September 2011

You can see from the screenshot, that I have a new Fluxbox theme which I have knocked together: I call it “Pugin“, after the Victorian “Gothic Revival” designer perhaps best known for the interiors of the Houses of Parliament in London. I created the tiled wallpaper at BgPatterns, using the wine-red and deep gold colours which are often associated with Pugin’s designs, and also applied these to the various Fluxbox window decorations (apologies for forgetting to include the Fluxbox menu in this shot).
(A word of caution about BgPatterns: it’s highly addictive, especially if you have a penchant for tiled desktop patterns, so I wouldn’t visit if you don’t have time to kill 😉 )

The main apps visible are “top” (running in XFCE Terminal), XMMS and xfontsel. For the “dockapps” down the right-hand side, you can refer to the last desktop article to find out the purpose of most of them—Conky is also running on the root desktop, but it is mostly obscured here by the other application windows.

Until next month…


My Eee Desktop – July 2011

Filed under: Desktops, Linux — Tags: , , , , — Tim @ 17:39

If you’re new to this blog, you may not have seen “My Eee Desktop”—basically, a monthly “feature” where I post a screenshot of how my 701SD’s desktop looks at that point in time. My last entry was in December 2010, but now I have started putting together a new OS setup on my Eee (based around Arch Linux), I reckoned it was time to resurrect the series 🙂

Screenshot of computer desktop

My Eee Desktop - July 2011

And here we are, with My Eee Desktop for July 2011 (just in time!). If you compare this view with the screenshot I posted about this time last week, you will probably spot quite a few differences as I’ve done a fair amount of customisation work in seven days.

The Fluxbox theme is based on “Operation” (I think), and I’m still working on my own version, which I’m calling “DeepSea”. I used this wallpaper with the old Eeebuntu setup on my 701, and always rather liked it, so resurrected it for this theme. (The wallpaper came from this forum post, as did quite a few others that I have adapted and used on my Eee.)

The dockapps on the right are the same as last week’s view, with one new addition:

  • wmdrawer—this sends out a “fly-out” menu (shown) with fourteen quick-launch icons for commonly-used apps (I added the Arch logo on the front, from this icon set by “gabriela2400”)
  • bubblemon—an animated water/bubbles/rubber duck display, which shows CPU, memory and system stats
  • wmnd—a network interface monitor
  • wmvolman (new)—displays mounted storage volumes (e.g. USB mass storage devices like flash and hard drives), and allows you to umount them
  • wmix—a volume and sound mixer control
  • wmsystemtray—acts like the system tray in GNOME/KDE; here showing wicd, Jupiter, Blueman and Dropbox (note: “wmsystemtray” is not to be confused with “wmsystray”, which kept crashing and (IMHO) didn’t “blend in” as well)
  • wmcalclock—nice time/date display

I’m currently looking at a script which should give me a system tray icon for managing removable storage (and free up an extra space in the Fluxbox “slit”, currently taken by wmvolman), so that’s one to watch for next month (or the one after that).

Anything else? Well, there’s Conky (the system stats display) on the desktop as ever—note the weather and “now playing in XMMS” sections—and a new arrival, the virtual desktop display IPager (note the orange blocks in the bottom-left).

I expect that the next instalment will show some progression from this—hope you enjoyed this month’s Desktop, and that you’ll join me for the next one 🙂

Troubleshooting NFS access problems on a Synology NAS device

Filed under: Software — Tags: , , — Tim @ 12:33

(I found this post in the blog’s “drafts” area; it seems I wrote it back in April (hence the references to my 701 still running Eeebuntu), but for some reason the piece was never published. I reckon it could still be of use to someone, and I don’t like to waste things I’ve spent time writing, so here is a quick delve into the Planetoid’s very own “dead letter office”…)

One of the things I really like about our Synology DS110j NAS device—being a user of at least two Linux-based PCs around the house—is that it offers just about every option for sharing files over a network that you can think of: SMB (Windows), AFP (Mac), WebDAV, FTP, SCP (I think) and NFS, to name just the ones that came to my mind. Most network-attached storage devices just give you Windows file-sharing (and if you’re lucky, FTP)—as, well, all computers “speak” SMB, don’t they?—so it’s welcome to find a NAS box which speaks so many “languages”!

Having two PCs running Linux in our house—my Eee 701 (Eeebuntu v3) and a “nettop” (Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat)—it made sense to set up NFS file-sharing, so that the machines could access the storage on the Synology box.

To cut a long story short, I managed to get this all working (in retrospect, I don’t quite know how it did), and all was well for a while. Then, a few weeks ago, our old ADSL modem/wireless router died on us, and we replaced it with a BT Home Hub 3 (very nice, does the job well, etc.).

It was around this time that I noticed something: the nettop PC was no longer mounting the NFS shares. Either the mount request would just sit there for ages and do nothing, or I was getting the dreaded “nfs.mount: access denied” message. I pored over the settings on the PCs and the Synology; everything seemed to match up, and there were no firewalls I was aware of on either side, which could be getting in the way.

For a while, I was even suspecting the Home Hub—there is a firewall on the device, and I wondered if, somehow, it could be blocking the ports required for NFS. I couldn’t see why this would be necessary within a home network, but I couldn’t think of any other possibility, so I started querying Web forums, to no immediate avail.

Last night, I was re-checking the NFS exports settings on the Synology (for what felt like the umpteenth time), and noticed something that had always been there, but which I hadn’t paid attention to before. The settings window contains some suggestions for valid syntax for specifying the IP address range, which will be allowed to access the NFS shares. I had specified the IP address range in the format XXX.XXX.XXX.*, which I thought would mean “all machines on our home LAN”… but this format wasn’t in the suggestions list.

I noticed one of the “valid syntax” suggestions was XXX.XXX.XXX.0/24, which I seemed to recall means “all machines in that range”, so I entered this into one of the NFS exports, and tried mounting the share from the Eee. Almost instantly, it worked… which led me to wonder why the old setting worked before but then suddenly didn’t, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth 🙂


Arch Linux and the Eee 701: first steps

Filed under: Desktops, Linux, Software — Tags: , , — Tim @ 09:43

So, if you read my last post about moving on from Eeebuntu, you can infer from the title of this entry, that I made a decision on the Linux distro for my Eee 🙂

Yes, I plumped for Arch Linux in the end—partly as I like to “tinker” with settings and the like, but mostly because I think Arch is simply the “right” distribution for a machine like the Eee 701. Arch isn’t necessarily a good choice for all potential Linux users—it can be complex, and the system doesn’t come “out of the box” like, say, Ubuntu—but Arch’s “roll your own system” philosophy comes into its own with a computer like the Eee 701, which has very specific “needs” (low-powered processor, small solid-state storage and screen, etc.) which aren’t ideally best served by a “full-fat” distro like Ubuntu.

Moreover, as I wrote last time, the relatively few distributions which are customised for netbooks (and even fewer for the Eee 701), tend to be derivatives of Ubuntu or its family, run by small teams (or even individuals), where there is no guarantee that at some point, they won’t run out of time or resources and let the distro “wither on the vine”. I understand this—I have family and other commitments too—but at least with a distro like Arch, you can build a system tailored to your needs, and its “rolling” updates mean it should stay current for the foreseeable future. At least, I don’t think Arch is going away any time soon…

So, Arch it is, and I’ve been working in my spare moments this week to install and customise the new Arch setup on my 701. I am immensely grateful to the Arch community for providing a massively-comprehensive wiki for Arch users, which has helped me at almost every turn—in particular, the wiki’s dedicated page for the Eee 701 proved invaluable throughout my “journey” so far.

One overriding consideration for me with building the new system: wherever possible, I didn’t want GNOME, due to its size and “weight”. Instead, I wanted to return to an “old friend” for the machine’s desktop—the Fluxbox window manager—and to use more “lightweight” alternatives for applications, unless I really wanted or needed something specific. For instance, to manage wired and wireless network connections, instead of GNOME’s NetworkManager applet, I found wicd, which is lighter on resources whilst still (usually) working just as well.

Screenshot of Arch Linux (Fluxbox window manager)

Early screenshot of Arch Linux (Fluxbox window manager) on the Eee 701SD

You’re probably dying for a screenshot at this point, and who am I to stand in the way? Here is a first look at my Eee’s “new” Fluxbox desktop—it’s quite spartan at the moment, as I haven’t had time to get to work on a custom Fluxbox “style” (theme) yet. (Fear not: I’ll be restarting the “My Eee Desktop” monthly series again, once I’ve had time to really “tart up” the display 🙂 )

The main items to point out are the system stats on the desktop (that’s my old favourite, Conky, at work) and the array of “dockapps” in the Fluxbox “slit” along the right-hand edge. I have rather “retro” tastes when it comes to computer “desktops”, so I am quite partial to dockapps, some of which have origins as far back as the 1990s (whilst still being useful and not too demanding of screen real-estate). Most of the dockapps are not in the main Arch package repository, so I had to build the packages via the Arch User Repository (AUR), but they make it relatively easy to do this.

The apps—from the top down in the screenshot—are:

  • wmdrawer—this sends out a “fly-out” menu (not shown) with ten quick-launch icons for commonly-used apps (I added the Arch logo on the front, from this icon set by “gabriela2400”)
  • bubblemon—an animated water/bubbles/rubber duck display, which shows CPU, memory and system stats
  • wmnd—a network interface monitor
  • wmacpi—I use this mainly for displaying battery statistics
  • wmix—a volume and sound mixer control
  • wmsystemtray—acts like the system tray in GNOME/KDE; here showing wicd, Blueman and Dropbox (this is not to be confused with “wmsystray”, which kept crashing and (IMHO) didn’t “blend in” as well)
  • wmcalclock—nice time/date display

I wish I could report that I have already got everything working as I want it, but there is still a list of “to-dos” before me. A couple of samples:

  • Whilst wicd does a good job of replacing NetworkManager in most respects, it’s missing the ability to open and close VPN connections. It’s still necessary to edit various config files and scripts for PPTP (and I’m not touching OpenVPN yet), but I’ll be happy if I can get things running without much pain. Speaking of which…
  • …the main item which, frustratingly, I haven’t yet got working completely, is one that computer users in 2011 take for granted: automounting of USB mass storage devices (e.g. flash and hard disk drives). I’ve scoured the Arch wiki and Google for help, and ensured that the necessary services are running; so far, I have had limited success (it works, but only partly), but I think I’m on the right track. If nothing else, it shows you how much work the developers of Ubuntu and the like, have done to get USB automounting working as well as it does…

I think that will do as a first report 🙂 Stay tuned for further developments… and I suspect those could come quite quickly!


My Eee Desktop – December 2010 (and a message)

Filed under: Desktops, Linux, Software — Tags: , , , , — Tim @ 21:35

With apologies for not bringing you an Eee 701 desktop pic for last month (and, for that matter, any other posts!), here’s my screenshot for December 2010:

Eeebuntu v3 (Linux) desktop on my Eee 701SD

My Eee Deskop - December 2010

Yes, I know, not exactly much of an evolution from October’s desktop (and more on that theme in a moment); in fact, it’s basically identical aside from the Christmassy wallpaper, which I picked up from the Free Christmas Wallpapers site.

It’s now just about twelve months (Christmas 2009)  since I installed Eeebuntu v3 , in the hope that the next iteration of the distribution (renamed AuroraOS) would be only a couple of months away. Unless the new system has been released via some back door, the world is still waiting as of December 2010, and whilst I have been happy in general with Eeebuntu, I feel the OS is starting to show its age. It’s based on Ubuntu Jaunty—released in April 2009, now almost two years ago—and frankly I’m getting a little annoyed at all the Ubuntu advances I read about at Web Upd8, which I can’t take advantage of as they usually require a more recent Ubuntu.

Quite simply, I feel I’m coming to a point where I am considering trying one of the new Ubuntu releases—possibly the “netbook” edition of Natty Narwhal, which is due in April (thus giving the Aurora team ample opportunity to get their OS out of the door 😉 ). To be fair, aside from a few niggles I can live with, Eeebuntu currently does pretty well everything I need in a netbook OS, so I can probably wait a few months before taking any radical steps.

Another reason I’m not in a massive hurry—and a factor in there not having been any posts here since October—is that I’m using my Eee a bit less than I used to, owing to my acquiring a Nokia N8 mobile phone in November. Especially when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard (and mouse, if you have one, which I don’t (yet)), and/or a HDMI-equipped TV or monitor, the N8 comes as close as any mobile device I’ve yet used, to providing an alternative to a netbook for mobile computing activities.

There’s a whole potential article I could write on this if I ever get the opportunity, but suffice it to say for now, that going forward, I am unlikely to be posting here on a regular basis. I started this blog almost as a “notepad” for my experiments with the Eee 701—partly for my own reference, but also in case my findings could be of help to any other 701 or Linux users. I hope that has been the case; whilst this is not “goodbye”, and whatever happens, this blog is likely to stay online indefinitely, I thought I should let you know that I don’t think there will be regular updates here from now on. You’re most welcome to keep this in your RSS reader, though, so that you’ll catch anything I do write 🙂

Happy Christmas, best wishes for 2011, and thanks for reading!

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