Installing software on the EEE's version of Linux (Xandros 4) is not like installing software on Windows or Mac OS.
It's all done through a software interface, called Synaptic, that downloads and installs directly from online databases of programs called Repositories. You don't find, download or open installation files yourself. Synaptic does it all for you. It's a bit like adding add-ons to Firefox.
Synaptic reads the repositories and lists all the software you can install. When you choose one, it processes the whole installation for you. It also handles updates and un-installing. Synaptic is a bit like 'Add/remove programs', but with an alphabetical list of every piece of software you can currently download.
In Easy Desktop mode (the default, with the large icons and the tabs Internet/Work/Learn/Play/ etc), you open Synaptic through the console:
In Full Desktop mode, Synaptic is in the Launch menu:
There's an excellent and detailed explanation of How linux software installation works if you want more information.
The box in the top right of the Synaptic window is the software you can download. You can browse more easily using the categories on the left, and you can skip down by typing.
To download and install something:
If any of the messages that come up go off the bottom of the screen, drag the window up by holding down 'Alt' and dragging from anywhere. (note - you can do this for anything on the eee, including this browser window).
When there's a grey box to in front of something in the Synaptic list, it means it's already installed. You can mark it for re-installation, un-installation etc and then apply in the same way.
The above allows you to download any software off Asus's own repository, which contains software specially designed by Asus for the EEE. You'll probably want software not listed there before long.
Even so, you still go through Synaptic and get it off repositories, not off websites.
What you want to do to get more choice is to increase the number of repositories Synaptic is keeping an eye on. Skip down to More about repositories.
…and if you're using Full Desktop Mode, you should now be able to simply:-
It should be as simple as that, and you should now be able to skip this horrible section and go straight to 'More about repositories'. If it's really not there, skip down to “If it's not an ideal world…”.
But if you have not installed the Debian Programs Menu, you can still try to add this to the Easy Desktop Start Menu manually following these instructions: Setting Up a More Useful Start Menu. It's not essential, you can get at your new software without it, but in an ideal world, using this, things should also be nice and simple.
…and no shortcut has appeared, it won't be that simple. Especially as, in Linux, the files for a piece of software aren't kept in one neat folder somewhere logical like 'program files', but are scattered across a range of folders in a way that makes for a very effective operating system, but a very confused user. One can list the details of a package by viewing the “Properties” in synaptic; this shows all the files installed. Alternatively one can use 'apt-file list' followed by the package name from a terminal window. The interesting bits are typically in /usr/bin, usr/local/bin or /opt/bin.
Here's a number of additional things you can try. Good luck!
(Remember that a lot of Linux software is a little… amateurish… If something is a huge struggle to install and run, that may be a sign that it's badly made and not worth the effort)
Normally this should work. If it does work you'll probably want to create a shortcut to it:-
In full desktop mode, you can create a Launch menu shortcut for it by:
In easy desktop mode if you're not using the Start Menu mod linked to above:
If it's not there, it could be literally anywhere, and might not have even installed properly… A couple of final things you can try:
If you still can't find it, ask on the forum, or try re-installing through Synaptic, or give up. Sometimes software just plain doesn't work and there's nothing you can do. If it's this much trouble to install, that suggests it's probably not very well made so it may well be a disappointment anyway. Sorry.
Sometimes, after correctly installing, locating, and attempting to run the software, it doesn't work: running from a menu item or icon on the desktop, nothing seems to happen, even with software installed from the Asus repository.
Running from the terminal window you see a message about a segmentation fault (or “segfault”). Unusually in the Linux world, on the Eee PC, this can often be fixed by simply shutting down the computer, and switching it back on (a “cold reboot”) so if you have this problem, a cold reboot is definitely something you should try before uninstalling the misbehaving program, particularly if you've seen reports of other people successfully running this particular item.
Synaptic keeps a list of the repositories it keeps an eye on. You can add or remove repositories to this list, and it refreshes only when you press the 'reload' button.
The EEE comes set up to monitor one repository, “http://update.eeepc.asus.com/p701/” (you never need to follow this link yourself, Synaptic does it all).
*NOTE* Newer models of the EeePC, such as the 1000, may be set-up to monitor more than one repository.
This is Asus's own repository. Therefore, everything on it is perfectly safe, and designed for the EEE, but it might not have everything you want on it.
If you can't find what you're looking for, you can add repositories to the list and then browse them. Since this is Linux, there's loads of repositories out there. Some are good, some are dubious, many contain incompatible software written for different versions of Linux.
Adding repositories is easy to do, but has to be done right, else there's a danger of Synaptic installing what it thinks is an update to a vital system file, when it's actually intended for a different version of Linux. If this happens, it buggers things up quite badly and is very difficult to repair.
If you want to add more repositories, follow the instructions on Adding Xandros Repositories. This page also all gives the details you need for repositories that EEE users recommend.
The instructions are detailed and somewhat technical, but don't be put off by that. It's basically two simple steps:-
1: “Pinning your system” - This tells your system when not to download from the new repositories, protecting it from accidentally downloading something incompatible that might damage it. It's as simple as copying and pasting a command, copying and pasting a string of code, then saving and closing. (note - it talks about this near the end of the page, but do it first, it's important)
2: Adding the repositories. Again, you just copy & paste a command, copy & paste the details, then save.
You can also add or remove repositories through Synaptic (Settings > Repositories). Synaptic also lets you uncheck repositories, which stops Synaptic monitoring that repository, but means you don't have to enter the details again next time you want it.
Using extra repositories can cause problems, but if you do the pinning first you should be safe, and if you uncheck the new repositories when finished you're even safer.
Don't forget that any changes you make to repositories won't do anything until you hit 'reload' on the main Synaptic screen.
A helpful feature on the EEE is the disk partition. This keeps the fundamental, vital files of the operating system (everything that was pre-installed when you took it out the box) locked and protected.
If something does go wrong - say you use a dubious repository or don't do the pinning, and are unlucky - you can revert to these factory settings in a matter of minutes without needing the DVD. Basically it wipes everything on the “user”, unlocked side of the partition, which includes all updates and installation stuff, then starts up fresh exactly the same as when you took it out the box. It takes a few minutes at most. Don't forget to back up any saved files first.
If you need to do this:
In short: no matter what you do to the eee's software, you can't make things any worse than when you first got it. So keep files backed up if you're experimenting, but don't worry too much!