Lost weekend discovering the joys of eeePC

I lost this weekend to an Asus eeePC. I blame it on my colleague, Ian, who had trouble gettiing Wi-Fi going on his. To cut a long story short, Ian needed a working machine for the RSA conference in San Francisco this week and since the Wi-Fi on his eeePC wasn’t working, he had to get another machine. And so he left his old machine for safe keeping with me…

I really like the idea of a small lightweight device for writing articles, blogging, Web access and email.. My current setup is an XDA Orbit and a Freedom keyboard, which seems to work reasonably well, although it’s a bit clumsy.

So the offer of a weekend with the eeePC got me pretty excited. The first thing that struck me was its size – about the same size and weight as the Windows CE-based HP Jornada that I used in 1998-2000 for reporting on the road.

However this machine runs Xandros, a version of Linux based on Debian, Now I’m a Windows user and my attempts at learning Linux have been pretty feeble to date. But the eeePC hides it behind a nice user interface that gives you access to useful stuff like Firefox, OpenOffice etc. It’s only when things go wrong…or you need to want the eeePC to do more, that you have to start getting your hands dirty with Xandros Linux.. And this is the reason I lost a weekend with the eeePC. I have decided to write this blog about my experience, as a way for me to capture how I set up the eeePC. Maybe someone will find it useful. But there’s no guarantee what I’ve done will work on another eeePC.

Of course, before I could do anything I needed to get Wi-Fi running. There does appear to be a massive eeePC community on the Web and a few searches on Google quickly revealed possible solutions to the (common) problem of Wi-Fi not working.

Basically, you have to setup a new connection and make sure you set Mode to “Infrastructure”; Transfer Rate to “Auto” and configure your encryption settings – I use WEP and the key was in hexadecimal.

The real power of the eeePC is unleashed once Wi-Fi is running and you have a live Internet connection. Now you can start customising it.