Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Adventures with eeePC: Enter EasyPeasy

Recently I attempted to enable the Advanced Desktop on my eeePC. I'm not *exactly* sure what I broke, but I broke my little netbook good. Damn. I could get it to boot but had no desktop. No icons, no information nothing. Very, very disappointing. So I thought that perhaps it was an opportunity to have a look at a few other things. Hunting for a new netbook operating system found me looking mostly at Linux offerings, with some websites advocating Windows 7. Eventually I found my way to Easy Peasy (http://www.geteasypeasy.com/) which uses Ubuntu 8.04 as its base and builds upon that with a myriad of customisations and clever manipulations of the system. I love Ubunutu - it's basis in Debian means it's rock solid with tonnes of terrific applications. The installation was a bit nervy - I didn't want to brick my netbook. The website has an excellent walk through and after a few USB memory key issues I finally got things going in the right direction.

The interface is great. Speed is great. I still have a grip about Mozilla Firefox though. It seems to pause (and hold up everything else) every now and then. It disrupts my flow and annoys me. With the recent release of Easy Peasy 1.5 I hope that will be fixed. I'm downloading it now so I'll find out very soon I hope. Generally it was been excellent though. All the devices worked perfectly and although I've had a few problems with a bluetooth mouse I've got, it's been fine otherwise. The particular mouse in question is *very* sensitive to the devices it connects to. The addition of the 8GB SD card has made storage a non issue and I have a 160GB external disk with a heap of stuff on it if I require the extra disk space.

I'm installing the updated version now - it's based on Ubuntu 9.04 so I'll post another note about it when it's completed. Let's hope it goes well!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Review: Sun VirtualBox

Recently I've had to find a virtual machine emulator. Given my limited budget (read: zero) I was hunting around for various different pieces of software. Microsoft have their virtual machine software: Virtual PC which is a polished bit of software. It is, however, not up to par with what I want to do. Because I run a host Windows machine and want to use Linux as a guest operating system, VirtualPC has all sorts of issues with it. I tried it and didn't like it. I stumbled upon VirtualBox (www.virtualbox.org) which appears to be sponsored by Sun. Given Sun's previous support of Open Source, I decided to try it.

The installation is very simple and straightforward - it installs extra network adapters, DHCP servers for the internal NAT'd network and a few other bits and pieces. The guest OS support it offers is excellent. In a *very* short amount of time I had a copy of Debian running from the netboot cd, installed and configured an FTP server and I was very happy. My host operating system was Windows Server 2008, which isn't 100% supported but does the job very nicely anyway. I've run it under Windows XP too and it works very well (especially on my Dell D610 Latitude with a 1.6GHz Centrino processor and 2GB of RAM). I'm going to test OpenSolaris on it and see how it goes under the installation.

Some years ago I ran VMWare Desktop to have many virtual machines for testing and other purposes and I found it to be rock solid. The VMWare gear is very good. I have found, to my considerable pleasure, that VirtualBox is as solid and feature filled as VMWare was. It's free status is even better and I love the fact that it supports Linux so beautifully. I'll be experimenting with various other guest OSs in the next few days and I'll let you know my progress as I play with it.