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More than a year ago, the netbooks took the hardware world by assault. What at first looked like an innocent mini laptop, turned out to be the best thing that happened to hardware providers in the last five years. It all started with Asus and their EeePC, and now there isn't a big name in the industry that hasn't either already started a line of netbooks or planning to launch one soon. From Acer to Dell to more underground firms, companies try to offer the cheapest and smallest laptops, providing at the same time functionality needed by today's standards.

The EeePC 700 and EeePC 701 were the first to hit the market. With their small seven inch screen and their 4GB solid state disks, these early models sold like cupcakes. They are also the first ones that proved Linux to be the perfect operating system for the netbook market.

The simple, Xandros-based desktop that the EeePC 700 line offers gives the user almost anything it might need in terms of applications: a web browser, IM application, office suite and a couple of games to keep the children entertained. While the concept is well-thought and the tabbed interface makes the user's job easy, there are some things the preinstalled OS lacks or could do better. This article will give you tips on how to enhance your experience with the EeePC 700 and 701.

Install other applications

The first EeePC netbooks ran a version of the Xandrons distribution with a UI called Easy Mode. In Easy Mode you are given a set of icons organized in tabs, each corresponding to a preinstalled application. To access the terminal you can press Ctrl+Alt+T, and from there you can install Synaptic that in turn will give you access to installing other applications. Just type the following when your Terminal window pops up to update the existing repositories:

sudo apt-get update

Install Synaptic if you wish to have a GUI application for setting up additional programs:

sudo apt-get install synaptic

The problem with the default Xandros repositories is that they contain outdated software so you'll need other software sources in /etc/apt/sources.list. My current repository list in the forementioned file looks something like this:

deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/ p701 main deb http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/en/ p701 main deb http://xnv4.xandros.com/xs2.0/upkg-srv2 etch main contrib non-freedeb http://dccamirror.xandros.com/dccri/ dccri-3.0 maindeb http://www.geekconnection.org/ xandros4 maindeb http://download.tuxfamily.org/eeepcrepos/ p701 main etchdeb http://updates.xepc.org/ p701 main# deb htp://download.tuxfamily.org/eeepcrepos/ p701 main #deb http://download.videolan.org/pub/videolan/debian sarge main#deb-src http://download.videolan.org/pub/videolan/debian sarge main#deb http://download.videolan.org/pub/videolan/debian sid main#deb-src http://download.videolan.org/pub/videolan/debian sid main#deb http://xnv4.xandros.com/xs2/upkg-i386/ unsupported4.0-xn main contrib non-free#deb http://xnv4.xandros.com/xs2.0/upkg-srv2 etch main contrib non-free

Now that you are free to install other applications, proceed and install some tools you might find useful and that can get you closer to a more usable desktop:

sudo apt-get install tilda bbrun nano

Tilda is a drop-down terminal application similar to Yakuake or Guake. Feel free to use either of these two instead of Tilda but in my experience, for the EeePC, Tilda is perfect. To have it launched at startup, create a folder called .icewm:

mkdir /home/user/.icewm/

and inside it create a blank file called startup. Put the following in the newly-created file:

#!/bin/shtilda &

Now make the file executable:

chmod +x /home/user/.icewm/startup

This way, Tilda will be launched after the boot sequence is over and done so in the background.Now we're going to set up bbrun and bind it to a keyboard shortcut. Bbrun is an application that allows one to execute a command via a graphical UI rather than using the console. It's a stripped-down version of what you see in KDE or GNOME when you press Alt+F2.

Launch a Terminal application and do the following:

sudo cp /etc/X11/icewm/keys /home/user/.icewm/keys

Now open the keys file with the freshly-installed nano

nano /home/user/.icewm/keys

and type the following at the end of the file:

key "Alt+F2" bbrun -w

Save with Ctrl+X, press "Y" when asked and presto. The next time you'll open the EeePC and press Alt+F2 you'll have a place to type commands in.

Remove the shutdown confirmation screen

The confirmation screen that pops up when you press the power button on your EeePC can be really annoying. To get rid of it, open up a Terminal application and type the following sequence:

sudo sucd /opt/xandros/binmv shutdown_dialog shutdown_dialog.oldecho -e '#!/bin/bashnsudo /sbin/fastshutdown.sh' > shutdown_dialogchmod +x shutdown_dialogexit

This will back up the old shutdown_dialoq file and allow you to close the EeePC with a single push of the power button.

Unclutter the deskbar

The keyboard and SCIM icons seem useless to many people, so we'll get rid of them. You'll need the extra space when dealing with multiple open windows.Open a Terminal and type

sudo nano /etc/alternatives/x-session-manager

then scroll down until you reach a line that sais


and put an "#" in front of it. Now find the line that loads the keyboard icons:

(sleep 3; /usr/bin/keyboardstatus) &

and also put a "#" sign in front of it. Exit and save with Ctrl+X.

Easier external LCD switch

I mainly use my EeePC to watch movies that I stream through my LAN or running from an SD card. The problem is that each time I connected the netbook to an external monitor (in my case a big wide-screen LCD TV), I had to click the Settings tab, click Desktop Mode, select my resolution, select the external monitor, click OK. Takes a half a minute that I don't wish to spend every time I want to watch a movie, so I created a simple script that sets the resolution I desire and chose a key combination to start it.

Create a new file called "tv" in /usr/bin and make it executable"

sudo touch /usr/bin/tvsudo chmod +x /usr/bin/tv

and paste the following in that file:

#!/bin/shxrandr --output VGA --mode 1280x768xrandr --output LVDS --off

The first line activates the external LCD with a resolution of 1280x768 and the second line shuts off the EeePC's seven inch screen. Next, I put the following line in /home/user/.icewm/keys:

key "Alt+F5" tv

so that whenever I press Alt+F5, the script kicks in. It's much more comfortable than having to click your way to get an external monitor to work.

There are various tips and tricks you can use to tweak your EeePC and you can find most of them on the eeeuser Wiki.

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Comments about this article
miss spelled update
writen by: J00p34 on 2009-02-11 08:41:16
you better fix the miss spelled apt-get update people paste this commands I assume. sudo apt-get udpate
RE: miss spelled update written by J00p34:
writen by: Fred on 2009-02-11 14:08:28
The best thing you can do to improve your Eee is to ditch the poorly-supported and increasingly buggy Xandros and replace it with the excellent Eeebuntu: http://www.eeebuntu.org/ The distro is specifically designed for the Eee and runs rings around Xandros.
RE: written by Fred:
writen by: Razvan on 2009-02-12 13:26:26
RE: fixed written by Razvan:
writen by: Ben on 2009-02-12 15:08:30
Good tips, great article! I've also seen some good articles on installing Puppy Linux on the eee -- http://www.linux.com/feature/131070. I've read that Microsoft is pretty worried about losing the netbook market to Linux -- http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2008/10/29/netbooks-and-the-end-of-windows-vista/ Allegedly they're going to introduced yet another (!) edition of Windows 7 to try to compete on netbooks (Started Edition). But will a stripped down Windows really compete with Linux? Don't think so for consumers who compare.
RE: na written by Ben:
writen by: charlie205 on 2009-02-13 10:15:23
What type of cable do you use to connect to your LCD TV? I have an EeePC 1000 and am having trouble getting it to display on my 32" LCD at all.
RE: written by charlie205:
Misspelled "miss spelled"...
writen by: Anonymous on 2009-02-13 10:33:34
RE: Misspelled "miss spelled"... written by Anonymous:
writen by: Razvan on 2009-02-16 00:59:15
RE: Cable written by Razvan:

Comment title: * please do not put your response text here