Eee PC: better with Windows?
Eking out the power with XP
I have now installed Windows XP Pro on my Eee PC and while the unit's power consumption characteristics are slightly better than they were under the standard Linux installation, it's not as much of a gain as I'd hoped for.
Installing XP is straightforward. The Eee PC's manufacturer, Asus, provides the drivers you need on the DVD that comes with the micro-laptop, or you can download them from its website. That's what I did because my review unit didn't come with said DVD. It did come with the manual, however, and that has a comprehensive set of instructions to guide you through the process.
Asus' Eee PC: ships with Linux, but better with Windows XP?
A trip to Maplin later and I had a 40 quid external USB DVD writer to connect to the Eee PC. You have to adjust the laptop's BIOS to tell it you're installing an operating system and to start up from the DVD drive, but that's easy enough to do if you follow Asus' instructions. Then it's just a matter of letting Windows' set-up do its thing.
With XP in place, you can install the drivers from the DVD. I tripped up on one gotcha: fresh from the install, the Eee PC's Wi-Fi adaptor is turned off, so the Atheros software kept complaining that I didn't have a wireless adaptor installed. Just tap Fn+F2 to turn the radio on, and the software works exactly as it should.
Asus' instructions assume you'll be plugging a USB Flash drive or HDD into your Eee PC, but I chose instead to slot in a 4GB SanDisk SDHC memory card and use that. OK, you can't remove it afterwards - at least not while the machine's up and running - but I'd say it's a more convenient approach than having to carry Flash drive around too.
A basic 4GB SanDisk cards costs around £32/$55, but SanDisk has faster and/or more capacious options too, as do many other SDHC card makers.
Why use one at all? Firstly, a standard Windows install will fill up a good portion of the Eee PC's 4GB solid-state drive. With a little pruning, you can get XP into 2.5GB - there's a way to reduce it even further, which I'll talk about later - leaving 1.5GB for apps and data.
Secondly, Windows writes many more files to the drive than Linux apparently does, and a lot of Eee PC users are understandably worried that that will significantly reduce the longevity of the SSD. Yes, Flash memory cells can only be written to a limited (but large) number of times, but modern Flash controllers are able to work around this by juggling writes to minimise the number of times a given cell is written to. The upshot is that the SSD should last as long as the laptop does.
Still, why risk it when you can make use of removable storage that, unlike the SSD, is easy to replace? To make the most of the SDHC, you have to tell Windows to keep your My Documents folder, its own Temporary Internet Items space and the virtual memory file on the card. Asus' instructions show you how to do this, but EeeUser.com has a clearer guide here.
Incidentally, for folk keen to keep the Linux distro, EeeUser.com has a wealth of useful hints on improving its user experience, particularly handy if you have no Linux experience.
re: The XP Killer App - IME for Asian Languages
Which languages are you after? SCIM (scim-im.org) is a open project for common input methods for Linux and other unices.
Depending on your dongles, most of the models available on UK networks will work. You won't have the Windows bangs and whistles but it's possible that they could be persuaded to work through WINE. www.pharscape.org has a list of which cards work and which drivers they work with.
The XP Killer App - IME for Asian Languages
Being able to use the English keyboard to type Asian languages such as Simplified Chinese is the app I would need on day 1. So far I was not able to confirm if this familiar interface, a clone of the Windows IME for East Asian Languages, is available on Linux.
Killer App number 2 is drivers for GPRS/3g modems or usb dongles, to leverage that portability. Not to mention, would the Eee be able to recognize Internet Banking usb stick readers?
XP on the EEE? Oh, so you're scared of change...
"The drain on the Eee PC is much higher - ironic given its low-power screen LED backlight and lack of a hard drive"
When was the last time you heard your hard disk spinning when your laptop was in standby? Oh, you probably haven't, so that won't make any difference. And when was the screen last on when you left your laptop in standby? Again, I'd imagine never...
"[with Windows] It takes the Eee PC about 22s to recover from hibernation, about 45s to start up from scratch"
Oh, that sounds great, after a few months that'll be 1:30 to boot and after 6-7 months that'll be 2 minutes to boot. Compared to the original OS's time of 12-15s, that seems a little poor.
Now I've tried Linux (Mandrake) in the past, much to no avail, until about a year ago when I installed Ubuntu on my PC. Then about 11 months ago I removed Windows. There's nothing I could do in Windows that I now can't do in Linux. Granted, I don't play a lot of games on my PC, but Ubuntu does have some native 3D games. Now I'm a bit of a geek (it's been said) and playing about with a new OS is all good fun to me, but with Ubuntu, you really don't need to worry about being a die-hard Linux fan, you just want to have to put a little effort in. If you don't want to put any effort in, then it's too late; you're a corporate sell-out already.
Or just install it on a USB HDD
I've had my EEE over two months now. I use Linux for most things but if I want Windows (or to use the more versatile Ubuntu) I just plug in my USB HDD and away I go. Fully powered by one USB port.
I've got to be honest however - Windows for me is just for games.
"Wrong. If schools can't teach ideals and higher morals, eg. using open standards and ethical software, then there is no no hope of ever making the world a better place. Schools are where we start to chisel away at the monopoly."
Unfortunately we need the kids in school to be able to get a job at sometime in the future, and while most companys still use MS software they need how to use it.
Morals and Ethics only work in a world were you don't have to work for a living.