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(Note to Eee owners: Please see the main wiki page for guides and how-to articles. This page contains mainly background information on the device and upcoming developments.)
The ASUS Eee PC (pronounced “E P C”1)) is an ultraportable notebook computer with prices starting at $299. It was developed jointly by Intel and ASUSTeK based on Intel's Classmate PC project but with an aim for the consumer market. Unlike some broadly similar devices, notably Ultra-Mobile PCs and upcoming Mobile Internet Devices, the Eee features the traditional clamshell design, a touchpad pointing device, and a low-profile QWERTY keyboard. Its appeal lies in its combination of portability, low cost, relatively high performance, and familiar ease of use. In this regard, it is sometimes compared to the OLPC XO-1, a low-cost educational laptop from the One Laptop Per Child project.
Originally dubbed the “Eee PC 701” to accommodate other models with different screen sizes, the name has since been shortened to simply “Eee PC”. ASUS's officially announced models are the Eee PC 8G, 4G, 4G Surf and 2G Surf, all of which feature the same 7” screen. There is speculation that models with different sizes may be released in the future.
(See: Official Eee PC product page for update information)
|Model Name||Eee PC 8G||Eee PC 4G||Eee PC 4G Surf||Eee PC 2G Surf||Eee PC 900 Linux||Eee PC 900 WinXp||Eee PC 900 Linux (Refurb)||Eee PC 900 WinXp (Refurb)|
|Available Colors||Pearl White, Galaxy Black||Pearl White, Galaxy Black, Blush Pink||Pure White, Galaxy Black||Pure White, Galaxy Black, Lush Green, Sky Blue, Blush Pink||Pearl White, Galaxy Black||Galaxy Black|
|Included Accessories||Carrying case, USB mouse||Carrying case||None||None||Carrying bag||None|
|Memory (RAM)||1 GB (DDR2 SO-DIMM)||512 MB (DDR2 SO-DIMM)|| 512 MB (DDR2 SO-DIMM)|
(White may not have access cover)
(Black generally has access cover)
|512 MB (DDR2 soldered)||1GB (DDR2 SO-DIMM)||512 MB (DDR2 SO-DIMM)|
|Solid-State Drive||8 GB (PCIe)||4 GB (soldered)||4 GB (soldered)||2 GB||4 GB + 16 GB (PCIe)||4 GB + 8 GB (PCIe)||4 GB (PCIe)||8 GB (PCIe)|
|Built-in webcam||VGA (640×480) @ 30 fps||None||1.3M Pixel webcam||None||1.3M Pixel webcam|
|Battery||4 Cells: 5200 mAh, 3~3.5hrs*||4 Cells: 4400 mAh, 2.8hrs*||4 Cells: 4400 or 5800 mAh, ~2-3hrs*||4 Cells: 5800 mAh, 3~3.5hrs*|
|Storage Expansion||External MMC(plus)/SD(HC) slot||SD(HC) slot|
|Display||6” (15.25cm) by 3.6” (9.15cm) or 7” (17.78cm) diagonal; WVGA (800×480) @ 133.3 PPI||8.9” dia. WSVGA (1024×600)|
|CPU||900 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV 353 @ 630 MHz||800 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV @ 571 MHz||900 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV 353 @ 630 MHz|
|Operating System||Custom Linux OS (Xandros); Windows XP Home|
|Wired Networking||10/100 Mbps Ethernet|
|Wireless Networking||802.11b/g Wi-Fi (PCIe)|
|Internal Modem||External RJ-11 connector present but internal MDC board not populated||No internal modem|
|USB Ports||3 external|
|External Display||VGA D-SUB (up to 1600×1280)|
|Audio||High Definition Audio with built-in stereo speakers and built-in microphone|
|Weight||0.92 kg (2.0 lbs)||0.99 kg (2.2 lbs)|
|Dimensions||22.5 x 16.4 x 2.15~3.5 cm (8.86 x 6.46 x 0.846~1.4 in)||22.5 x 17.0 x 2cm~3.38cm(WxDxH)|
(* This is the manufacturer-estimated battery life. Actual battery life may vary with usage.)
(* Many 4G and 8G EEE PCs are being shipped with a 4400 mAh battery instead of a 5200 mAh battery as a result of a battery shortage. Battery life will decrease accordingly.)
(* EEE 900 PCs are being shipped with either a 4400 mAh battery or a 5800 mAh.)
As of November 23, 2007, the Eee PC is available in several configurations and colors in many parts of the world. An EeeUser.com forum thread lists a number of online retailers. ASUS has set a conservative global sales target of 200,000 units for 2007, presumably limited by production, that will increase to between 300,000 and 500,000 by March 2008 and to over three million by the end of that year. Given indications of high demand, initial allocation in any region is expected to be very tight.
Other colors and models may be released in the future.
Unlike some broadly similar devices, notably UMPCs and upcoming MIDs, this computer features the traditional clamshell design, a touchpad pointing device, and a low-profile QWERTY keyboard. However, for storage it uses a solid-state drive (SSD) based on non-volatile NAND flash memory, rendering it much less susceptible to shock damage. Random-access times are substantially lower than that of mechanical hard drives, as well, but sustained transfer rates (read and write) are also lower. In practical use, the SSD allows the computer to boot quickly while consuming less power and extending battery life.
The computer is fairly symmetrical and inclined toward the user at a shallow angle to ease typing. It appears the slightly recessed touchpad (45 x 30 mm)2) has one large button, but it works like two 3) 4) (as is the case with ASUS's A8 series of notebooks); a marked scroll strip can be seen on the right edge. The 80-key keyboard is considerably smaller than full-size (most keys measure 1.5 x 1.3 cm5)), as would be expected, but the widescreen display does not fill the panel space and leaves an unusually wide bezel all around. The surrounding black area is used for an optional fixed webcam (top), ASUS logo (bottom), and stereo speakers (sides). The chrome power button resides on the right side of a sturdy-looking hinge, next to the Eee PC logo, and a horizontal array of four different-colored status LEDs lines the front-right edge. These are indicators for power (green, flashes on standby), battery (red on low battery, orange on AC power), disk access (blue), and Wi-Fi (aqua), in that order.
The removable battery sits at the bottom-back, which raises the possibility for extended packs for longer runtimes (though ASUS says it has no plans to offer such batteries6)). It is held securely in place by dual sliding latches, one on either side. The integrated microphone is located on the bottom toward the front. Also on the bottom is a centrally located panel cover secured by two small Phillips-head screws, and this compartment is surrounded by a series of vent holes for a reportedly quiet fan. The panel cover enables replacement of RAM7) and installation of a PCI Express Mini Card device in an unoccupied slot; however, this slot is present only on some systems (presumably those in early batches). Finally, four rubber feet (two round ones at the front, two long at the back) elevate the notebook off the surface for proper airflow intake.
On the left side of the computer, from front to back: 3.5mm (1/8”) color-coded headphone (lime green) and microphone (pink) port, one USB 2.0 port, and RJ11 (nonfunctional, protected by rubber cover) and RJ45 jacks. The pink microphone port doubles as a stereo line-in socket, depending on what is plugged in to it8). On the right side: MMC(plus)/SD(HC) card reader (one slot, flush-fitting), two USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out connector (without screw terminals), and Kensington Security Slot. (A design limitation prevents simultaneous use of the latter two9), a problem which has been observed on some other ASUS notebooks.) A DC power-input jack (9.5V x 2.315A = 22W) is the only connection on the back; it is to the immediate left of the battery when viewed from the front. The included AC-DC adapter/charger (100-240V @ 50/60Hz input) is very small, akin to that for a mobile phone, and has a long, thin cable of about two meters10).
Reviews say the chassis is well-assembled but somewhat flimsy, as can be expected given the price range. However, select models ship with a black, ASUS-branded neoprene carrying case that fits tightly to absorb vibration from shock when on the move. Also, the unit is shipped with protectors for the display and keyboard. The battery is packaged separately (protected by bubble wrap) and installed by the user. Other items in the retail box include a Quick Use Guide, 104-page User Guide, Windows XP Installation Guide (included with later packages), sheet on technical updates, Support CD (contains Windows XP drivers, currently at Rev. 1.3), Linux Recovery CD (contains an image of the default Xandros installation), battery notice, and warranty card. Optional accessories may include an as-yet unannounced ASUS AiGuru U1 wired USB handset for Skype11), ASUS 1000dpi wired notebook optical mouse (five colors), larger 6-cell 7800mAh Li-ion battery, and a wireless base station whose connection with the computer is not clear; a GPS navigation kit may be offered at a later date.12)
900MHz Intel Celeron M ULV 353 (Dothan-512, Ultra Low Voltage)18)
Mobile Intel 910GML Express19) northbridge.
Intel GMA 900 (integrated) with external VGA-out connector
512MB or 1GB single-channel DDR2-400 (PC2-3200) SDRAM (8MB-256MB allocated to video memory)
2, 4, or 8GB SSD with Silicon Motion SM223 controller23)
900 with 2GB ASUS-PHISON SSD
Asus Li-ion Battery Pack A22-P70127)
Originally the computer was to be released only with a custom Linux OS, but the manufacturer has since decided to offer a variant with Microsoft Windows XP at a later date (probably December 2007) and at a higher price (but significantly discounted). As the Windows installation is presumed to be typical of that operating system, this section covers only the Linux OS. (Note: Most of the information here is applicable to the entire Eee PC series.)
Thanks to a relatively lean operating system and quick-access SSD, the computer reportedly boots in under ten seconds (ASUS claims within fifteen) and shuts down in five, though some estimates put boot times at up to thirty seconds. The boot screen (with ASUS and Eee PC logos) presents this message: “Press F2 to run Setup. Press TAB to display BIOS POST Message”. The BIOS allows the user to make limited changes to the system, including changing the time and date, changing the boot priority, and enabling and disabling onboard devices. The integrated webcam is disabled by default, so the user would have to enable it here to use it in the operating system.
Upon first boot the user is prompted to consent to the end-user license agreement (EULA) that accompanies the operating system, set the keyboard layout, register their full name, enter and confirm a password, and set the time and date. The user should then click Finish and be taken directly to Easy Mode (see below), which is the default destination on subsequent boots.
The OS is an ASUS-customized variant of Xandros Linux (based on Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 [”etch”], kernel 2.6.22) with Easy Mode and Desktop Mode designed for novice and advanced users, respectively. As with a normal Xandros installation, this Linux distribution runs the K Desktop Environment (KDE) by default. Easy Mode is a menu system that consists of a custom tabbed interface, organized by task, with large icons under each tab to launch applications, files, or websites. Desktop Mode is essentially the normal Xandros desktop (but without Xandros branding) and resembles the Windows XP desktop environment, in particular the original Luna visual style. The default theme is Silver, and there are three more preinstalled (Green, Orange, and Blue).
The following details were observed on a late engineering sample with 4GB SSD, 512MB RAM, and webcam28); production 4G and 4G Surf models are reportedly identical. Internal storage is divided into four partitions, the first two of which are combined via UnionFS:
/ (root) partition (2353MB, ext2),
/home partition (1338MB, ext2), a FAT32 partition (8MB), and an EFI partition (8MB). (No swap partition is configured by default.) Note that of the 4GB total capacity, only about 1.3GB (35%) is available to the user (excluding any free space remaining on the root partition); the base 2GB model (2G Surf) ships with less software preinstalled.
The computer features a voice-recognition program (Settings → VoiceCommand, not available on 2G Surf) that can launch applications (a total of sixteen) and shut down the system. The user must prepend the word “computer” before each command, as in “computer web” and “computer mail”. Once the command is registered the computer echoes back the command and executes it. According to one source, however, the software is “a bit too sensitive”29) (translated from Chinese) and is less effective in high-noise environments.
(A user-created interactive demo of the Easy Mode interface is available online.)
This mode, which uses the IceWM window manager, is the default mode upon boot. Horizontal tabs run across the top of the screen, and once clicked, the active tab's icons are laid out below in a grid-like structure (specifically, a 3-by-5 matrix at the default resolution). As is the norm, icons must be double-clicked to launch. There may be multiple levels of icons, in which case a navigation bar (with a back button) appears below the tabs once the user leaves the top-most level. According to one report30), there is no need for a second (right-click) touchpad button in this software environment, which ASUS calls their “one-click intuitive interface.”
There are six tabs, in this order: Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, Favorites; plus a Help button in the top-right corner. They present the following icons, in their respective order (from left to right, top to bottom):
* not available on 2G Surf (Webcam also not available on 4G Surf)
There is a panel on the bottom of the screen, analogous to the Windows taskbar, that shows currently open programs and has a notification area on its right. The panel can be hidden by clicking the icon with a rightward-pointing triangle on the far right, or invoked by clicking the icon with a home symbol on the far left, which also minimizes all open programs. The notification area contains, at a minimum, status indicators for Wi-Fi, battery, Num Lock, Caps Lock, and volume and a digital clock. Three icons are always present to its right; these are shortcuts to the Task Manager, the ASUS FAQ web page, and the shutdown dialog (which can also be invoked by pressing the power button).
This mode was made easily accessible on prototype systems, but that is not the case for production machines; the user must perform “hacks” to enable this functionality. (See Enabling Advanced Desktop Mode.) It is typical of a “full-blown” Linux graphical desktop, in particular a KDE desktop, and allows the user to do most anything that can be done in Linux, save for perhaps some commands in the shell. The only default desktop icon is Home (shortcuts to Trash, My Documents, and others can be made). Also by default, there are two switchable desktop sessions. Shortcuts to Firefox, Thunderbird, File Manager, and Show Desktop (in that order) are to the right of the Launch button on the bottom panel.
See the default output of “dpkg -l” of different models for more details here
More than 40 applications are included, most of which are open-source and licensed under GPLv2, with the exception of Adobe Reader and Skype. Version numbers are provided where known.
* not available on 2G Surf (UCView also not available on 4G Surf)
The user can add, remove, and update applications (and the BIOS) through the Add/Remove Software utility under the Settings tab. While there are none to add at this time, ASUS has promised to certify applications and make them available via this method.31) Of course, experienced users can install applications manually and integrate them into Easy Mode as explained in the main wiki article Customizing the Easy Mode GUI.
The Eee PC is capable of running other operating systems, but hardware limitations of the device must be considered. Although it is possible to install most Linux distributions and Windows XP, other operating systems may pose problems due to the relative lack of driver support for the Eee PC's Atheros network card. Additionally, the Eee PC lacks an integrated optical drive, so users who wish to install Windows or an alternative OS must boot from a USB device (usually flash memory or an external CD/DVD drive).
The main wiki page offers instructions on installing other operating systems on the Eee PC.
ASUS plans to offer a variant of the computer with Microsoft Windows XP Home preinstalled32) by the end of the first quarter of 2008. In the meantime, Windows XP can be installed manually by the user. ASUS provides instructions for doing so in the Windows XP Installation Guide (in earlier packages, the User Guide), and official Windows XP drivers are provided on the included Support CD.
Earlier versions of Windows will probably not work without proper drivers (perhaps with the exception of 2000, given its NT roots and similarity to XP). At least one production system has been modified to run Windows Vista33), but this is not recommended due to incomplete driver support and the computer's performance and space constraints (notably CPU, RAM, and graphics capabilities).
An engineering sample has been shown on video running PCLinuxOS and an unidentified Linux distribution in Live CD mode.34) A number of production systems have been modified to run Ubuntu Linux, and there is an online tutorial on the process.
In addition, there exists a “full-blown” Fedora spin called EeeDora created by an EeeUser.com forum regular.
Warning: Under its EULA, Apple prohibits (and thus makes illegal) the installation and usage of Mac OS on any “non-Apple-labeled computer.”
A user has successfully installed Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard” using OSx86 and a workaround for the Pentium M-based CPU's lack of support for the SSE3 instruction set required by Apple's Rosetta dynamic translator.35) Rosetta enables applications compiled for the PowerPC architecture to run on x86 processors.
Well before the release of the computer, there has been considerable interest in the community regarding an operating system (using the Linux kernel) and applications suite (of the GNU variety) optimized specifically for its limited combination of hardware, which is similar to that of an embedded system in this respect. The main reasons for this development include constraints on processor performance and hard-disk space and, notably, the low-resolution screen (especially in the vertical dimension). Also, it is believed that the default K Desktop Environment is too demanding on precious resources and that an alternative, lightweight DE like Xfce would be more suitable.
The first community project was EeeNix, led by former EeeUser.com forum member bbz_Ghost. It was later shut down by its founder (with rights to the name reserved), but new efforts such as The New Desktop Project and The Untitled Eee Project (TUEP) were quickly launched to fill the void. In December 2007, eeeXubuntu, a custom variant of Xubuntu 7.10 Live CD with fully integrated hardware support, was released by its creator, EeeUser.com forum member oasisbob. Development on these projects is ongoing, and users are encouraged to contribute.
More information on Linux distribution projects for the Eee PC series can be found in the Eee PC Custom Linux Distribution Projects subforum.
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