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Fedora + Eee PC = Eeedora

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I am a fan of affordable technology. I like relatively cheap gadgets, and I like open source. When I heard about Asus’ Eee PC, I took it with a certain grain of salt. I thought that maybe it was just another company trying to take a piece of the pie from the One Laptop Per Child initiative.

Then the more I read about the OLPC, the more I realized that the two gadgets may have been created for different purposes. The OLPC is a non-profit, educational-social project, while the Eee PC is an affordable subnotebook being sold with the intent for profit.

The Eee PC’s price range varies from approximately $300 to $500; within that range you can get a configuration with a 2 GB, 4 GB, or 8 GB solid state drive, and for the 4 GB and 8 GB models, you can opt for an embedded webcam as well. All models come with 3 USB ports, 1 MMC/SD port, and a VGA port for an external display, which can display up to 1600×1280 resolution.

By default, the Eee PC comes with a slightly modified version of Xandros Linux with KDE as its window manager. The Linux layman will most likely not realize that it is indeed running KDE because of a feature called ”Easy Mode” that hides the KDE desktop and gives the user only icons to the main apps in the system.

Note: The Xandros install uses unionfs for its filesystem, which is very common for Live CD installations. However, one of its features is that the space used by an application cannot be freed once that application is uninstalled. So, if you tried to uninstall OpenOffice to free up a few megabytes on your file system, unionfs would still report the same amount of used megabytes on your system.

Because the Eee PC is a full-blown Intel-based computer, there is absolutely nothing stopping us from installing other Linux distributions on it. At first glance, the only catch is the fact that the Eee PC doesn’t have a built-in CD/DVD-ROM, but by using open source tools like livecd-iso-to-disk from the Fedora distribution, we can install live images onto a USB thumb drive and boot the Eee PC from it. That’s where Eeedora comes in.

What’s Eeedora?

Eeedora is a Fedora-based live distribution created and maintained by Martin Andrews. Martin decided to create the distribution for power users who are more comfortable in the Red Hat-based environment rather than Xandros, which is Debian-based.

Eeedora is based on the most current version of Fedora (8); it uses XFCE as the window manager; the live image download is currently less than 350 MB; and it gives the user full access to the yum repos for the Fedora distribution, allowing you to install the larger packages like Gimp, OpenOffice, and Thunderbird.

Eeedora in its current state works flawlessly with most of the hardware available under the Eee PC, coming up a little short still with webcam support and resume issues after a suspend. Yet it has been my experience so far that it works very well on the Eee PC.

Also of note–Eeedora doesn’t use ext3. It uses ext2 to minimize disk use, so you should be aware that if devices are not unmounted properly, suspend/resume and hard shutdown could damage your install more frequently than if it was running ext3.

Installing Eeedora on the Eee PC

The following instructions will work on any of the models of the Eee PC:

1. Download the Eeedora ISO image file.

2. On your Fedora desktop (or laptop), install the livecd-iso-to-disk script.

# yum  install livecd-tools

3. Plug your USB thumbdrive into the computer. The haldaemon should automatically mount it, and you will see an icon for the thumbdrive show up on your desktop.

4. Open Terminal and become root:

# su -

5. Find out which Linux device your USB thumbdrive is mapped as:

# mount

You will see a few lines on your terminal, and one of them will look like this:

/dev/sdb1 on /media/disk1 vfat (rw)

Haldaemon will mount your USB thumbdrive using the same label it identified the device with on your desktop when the icon showed up. In the case of this example “/dev/sdb1″ is my device.

6. Install the image onto your USB thumbdrive:

# livecd-iso-to-disk the-file-you-downloaded.iso /dev/sdb1 

Note: You don’t need to format your USB thumbdrive; livecd-iso-to-disk will install the image without destroying your existing data (assuming it has enough space on the drive). But it never hurts to have a backup copy.

7. Unmount your USB thumbdrive and plug it into your Eee PC.

8. Boot up your Eee PC. Press F2 to go into the BIOS, and make sure you make your USB thumbdrive the first hard disk the BIOS sees. Press F10 to save, and the Eeedora grub screen should start up.

9. Once you are into the system, there will be an install icon on the desktop that you can use to install the OS on the actual SSD.

Known issues

As I’ve mentioned before, Eeedora is a work in progress, and Martin is always welcoming feedback from the community. I’ve had the chance to report a few bugs on it and got almost instant return from him.

Read about more of the outstanding issues in Eeedora.

Conclusion

You might be asking why would anyone be interested in getting a notebook like the Eee PC. The keyboard is small, the screen is small (7 inches at 800×480), and the storage is minimal. Personally, I see the Eee PC as a tool that makes me a bit more mobile than before. Its dimensions could been seen as a disadvantage, although for my purposes it is an advantage. I even sold my iPod, because now I use the Eee PC as my media player in the car while going back and forth from work. I don’t necessarily recommend it to anyone who uses their MP3 player while exercising, but for a drive, it is pretty great.

The Eee PC has also become a tool in which I started discovering applications in the open source world that I’ve never had the chance or desire to try. Most of us have plenty of storage space install everything from a Fedora DVD and use the “big apps” in our community like Gnome, KDE, Thunderbird, etc. Now with a very limited amount of space (in my case 2 GB), I’ve started playing with XFCE, Wifi-radar, and Sylpheed, among others.

You get a chance to use Linux with a different mindset, from a different perspective.

41 responses to “Fedora + Eee PC = Eeedora”

  1. Peter Passchier says:

    Easy mode is actually not KDE, but IceWM.

  2. Anderson Silva says:

    Peter,

    Thanks for the heads, I didn’t realize that. Apologies and thanks for the correction.

    AS

  3. Anderson Silva says:

    ‘heads up’, I mean.

  4. Scott says:

    Great stuff. I am looking forward to getting an eeePC.

  5. Sameet says:

    Hi, this is damn neat. I was in two minds about getting this one, but now you got me decided!!

    thanks

  6. Pistooli says:

    I love my EeePC… the interface is indeed built around IceWM… however the apps are a mix of gtk and kde…

  7. Roy says:

    I have had my EEE for 2 months now and i love it. I am using it to type this entry. I use my EEE in advanced mode, which gives you the full KDE environment rather than the very simple default easy mode. Given that you have access to 1000′s of applications through the synaptic package manager (apt-get install) I am not sure why I would want to change from an OS that is fully functional and talks to all the technology under the bonnet, for one that ‘mostly’ works. In my opinion, the advanced KDE mode on the EEE is as good, if not better, than any other distribution for this machine to date.

  8. Cole says:

    I got my eee for Christmas, installed eeeDora a week later. The basic install has minimal apps which has been a great little feature, I only install what I need/want when I need/want it. I’m loving my eee with eeeDora.

  9. Robert says:

    If I upgrade an EEE with a 2GB RAM module, can Eeedora address the full memory range? I hear that Xandros distro that comes with rgw EEE can only address the first 1GB of RAM. Thanks!

  10. sameet says:

    Hi,
    I took the plunge. I also got Eeedora working on it. I am posting this from the same laptop. Amazing job. thank you.

  11. AS says:

    If anyone ends up having issues downloading the ISO, try the following URL, instead: http://complexvalues.com/

  12. jhoffman says:

    I have had an eeePC for about 2 weeks now. It is indeed a great little machine! I considered Eeedora, but decided to install the regular version of Fedora 8.

    The latest F8 kernel supports everything on the eeePC except for the wifi. An install of the latest Madwifi package and that works too.

    Result: A great little machine running a great OS! :)

  13. bobby says:

    gee, why dont all you guys save some trouble and put xp home on it!

  14. VistaGuy says:

    Windows XP is definately the superior OS for use on the EEE, it allows the installation of good programs and is overall better than linux!

  15. Digger says:

    I suspect that the previous ignorant remarks have been made by those who have never used Linux!

  16. Bill says:

    I received a eee surf 4g with xp home installed. it came with an 8 gig sd card and an 8 gig usb”thumb drive”
    can I install eeedora on the thumb drive and get it to boot from the thumb drive? tnx Bill

  17. bobby says:

    Well I tried to install OS X on the eeepc and since that didn’t work I installed windows xp because it just works for enterprise business.

  18. gert says:

    Thanks for this article !

    ROFL @ bobby !

  19. Beartooth says:

    F8 installed fine, but won’t connect — by ethernet, at least. I plugged two different cables into it, both of which had been working fine with other machines, and “service network restart” gets an error saying SIOCSIFFLAGS is an invalid argument.

    If I turn on the wireless access in my router, it doesn’t help. If I then disconnect the cable, it still doesn’t.

  20. idole says:

    This looks very interesting.
    Can Eeedora be installet on a SD card instead of an USB?

  21. lvirden says:

    After installing either Fedora or Eeedora, is the PC still limited to using the unionfs? Or will the user have the ability to regain space no longer used? Also, is there a way to replace the ext2 with ext3? I mean, once you have replaced the OS, you are not expecting to get support from the vendor anyways, right?

  22. Bob Hampton says:

    I built and installed (on the eeepc SSD) a live-cd (on a usb key)of F8 using F8′s tools – mostly a minimal gnome with kids games so that my son could use this as an interim until his G1G1 XO gets here. I’m using ext3, but noatime and no syslogs. I have /home installed on an 8G SD. All of the hardware seems to be working fine, wireless, wired, webcam (although I did have to install madwifi and uvc modules). I also put in overclocking to 900MHz but it hasnt seemed terribly important for anything my son (5) is doing. The biggest issue I had was the limited screen (720×480), 800×600 would have been better. Most of the games can be handled by adding a fullscreen and/or screen size argument. I’m investigating Squeak – Sugar is just unusable (IMHO) on the smaller screen.

  23. Anderson Silva says:

    The USB install is just a ‘live-cd’ like install, then you can go ahead and install fedora on the SSD. The eeedora default is ext2, it does not use unionfs.

  24. TekBudda says:

    To Bobby & VistaGuy (likely the same person):

    As a SysAdmin in the “enterprise business” world, I can tell that you have very little clue about what you are talking about. Now you will probably come back and say you are a tech as well…but I am sure I could challenge your credentials.

    I use my 3E-PC DAILY…and have no less then 10 people (business people and others) a week approach me asking about it (I have offered to let people play with it as well). I always mention that is is Linux running on it, but I also mention that you can run XP on it as well, but point out why someone would want to spend $450 on XP to install l in it it beyond me as it has everything that MOST business users need.

    I use it to remote into my server to admin the box, access e-mail from my exchange box, surf, edit photos, play with Google Earth, etc. I will admit that it does have some limitations…like any system would, BUT as an advanced “enterprise business” user myself, it suits everything I need it to do.

    Perhaps you need to learn more about what you ar etalking about before you speak. If you don’t then all that leaves is an empty space that your foot will soon fill.

  25. threeta says:

    To Bobby & VistaGuy
    Why not really surprise us and intall Vista on the eee???

  26. Thad says:

    For all those Winbloze guys who want XP on the eeePC: What ya gonna do after June? Install Vista? Microsoft has nothing to offer for the eeePC.

  27. KristjanS says:

    I bought one of those awesome little laptops too. Very sturdy, and I can use it to play some games on bus. And when waiting at the bus stop, I can connect to WiFi, surf the internet and chat with friends.

    Although I am going to switch the Linux distribution, I won’t go the Fedora route. Mainly because all the other computers in my household have Ubuntu on them.

  28. SpiderKnight says:

    The stupid thing to do in eeePC is to install Microsoft Windows especially sucks Vista.

  29. Обзор дистрибутива Mandriva Linux Spring 2008 на Eee PC | обзоры | Eee-PC.ru says:

    [...] С текстом обзора на английском языке можно ознакомиться по ссылке. Напоминаем, что Mandriva официально имеет планы на поддержку своего дистрибутива по работе с субноутбуками Eee PC. Более того, стараниями российского представительства Mandriva, будет организована продажа Eee PC в России с предустановленным дистрибутивом от этой компании. Хорошо это всё на словах. Пока как следует из обзора Mandriva под Eee PC адаптирована не лучше, а то и хуже некоммерческих eeeXubuntu, и EeeDora. [...]

  30. Ric Moore says:

    What about the display? Is it accelerated with libGL? Can it do 3D? I would want to run something like the Linux SecondLife client or Croquet on it for our prison project. I wonder, like Wavy Gravy, if we can have laptops in bed for 2.7 million people?? Ric

  31. paul harda says:

    I have read that Microsoft want to muscle in on the action and are going to supply a watered down version of there (cough!) operating system for around 40$…The only thing that puts me off this machine is the lack of a cd/dvd drive.
    Fedora is very easy to install. I knew absolutely nothing about operating systems when I installed it on my laptop. It has such a good boot-loader and sensible default values, it installed and ran straight away. The install was on an acer Aspire 3000.

  32. EEE PC interface and software, tweaks and hacks, installing Linux eeeDora or eeeXubuntu, EEEPC tips and tricks | Asus EEEPC (E3PC) News & Info says:

    [...] Reading Thoughtfix’ post titled EEE PC and Xandros: No Thank You on his own blog UltraMobilegeek, you can easily spot the double-faced approach of Asus’ EEEPC subnotebook. Actually, there seem to be two distinct and antithetical approaches to the EEE PC interface and software: an out-of-the-box plain, self-contained everyday use, and a geek-oriented nerdish and hack-prone (ab)use of the machine. The first is typically preferred by the majority of users, who see the EEEPC’s Xandros O.S. with AsusLauncher graphical interface (probably inherited from PDAs, see image on the left) and preinstalled software as sufficient for their needs, and probably appreciate the fast response and stable behaviour of the software as a whole. This large part of EEE PC’s users, will eventually search for, discover and make use of some ’smart tricks’ in order to hack into the system and expand it in some way, for example using some Terminal commands to unlock the full Xandros Desktop (thus bypassing the AsusLauncher interface) or tweaking the EEE PC icon interface and adding new repositories to download additional applications. At the antipode are those smart users who prefer the hacking approach, usually starting with a radical change in the EEE PC’s system, for example installing another Linux distribution like eeeXubuntu or eeeDora, and in some cases installing an optimized version of Windows XP whose code has been ‘cleaned’ from the unnecessary stuff wih the use of great utilities like nLite, GameXP or XPLite. So, as you can see, the Asus EEE PC manages to keep both unexperienced computer user AND smart PC users like techies, geeks, nerds or even hackers (-wannabees) and Linux gurus satisfied, offering them the best of both worlds according to everyone’s computing needs. EEE PC competitors will have to address this aspect too, of course, in order to reach the same level of popularity and success. Are they going to have what it takes to succeed against such a great machine in the same price tag? [...]

  33. Luis Felipe says:

    I’m using Fedora 9 Preview on my Eee 4G.

    I’ve installed asus_acpi module and acpid is able to grab hotkey events and execute defined scripts in /etc/acpi/actions.

    Everythings runs just fine, except from the fact the scripts in /etc/acpi/actions cannot open any graphical program, such as xrandr (to change lcd x vga etc.)

    I get this on /var/log/Xorg.0.log:

    Code:

    AUDIT: Sat Apr 26 19:31:46 2008: 1912 Xorg: client 30 rejected from local host ( uid=0 gid=0 pid=4563 )

    I must say I do have “export DISPLAY=:0″ at the beginning of the script I’m intending to run.

    The only until now I could make it work was to type, as regular user:

    Code:

    xhost +local:root

    After that the script runs just fine and I don’t get the errors in Xorg.0.log.

    I can’t see what I’m doing wrong… If someone could help, I’d appreciate a lot!

    Thanks,

  34. Sarah EeePC ME says:

    Hey Guys,
    I’m three weeks into owning my 2G Surf EeePC with the unlocked KDE. I’ve used my little computer on a film set and with my cellphone tethered for 3G internet. I’m used to Fedora on tower computers, so this is a minor adventure. I tried installing DEV tools and am now about out of space. =( Is it possible to install Red Hat Fedora instead, and using my tower computer to build/compile apps and just xfer them to the EeePC to save the poor little thing from getting heat stroke from doing the compiling itself? Can I compile on a much fast system with different hardware and still run the app(s) on the EeePC?

    thanks!
    Sarah

  35. Steve Steingass says:

    The link to the Eeedora.iso is dead. Is there another site that has a working version of Eeedora? Let me know please, thanks.

    Steve S.

  36. TiWhiTe says:

    I’m running eeedora off my usb flash drive right now and contemplating whether to take the plunge and install it over the default xandros system. Whats currently putting me off is the wireles seems somewhat dodgy and firefox takes forever to load up first time but this could all be because i’m running it off the flashdrive. Does anyone have advice?

  37. Que blog más aburrido « b e o r says:

    [...] She me regaló por mi cumple un Eee Pc, ¡¡¡guau!!! es la versión windows, porque en España es la única que se vende, pero ya he lo he probado con Eeedora, la versión de Fedora para el Eee Pc. Muy chulo, muy pequeño (pantalla de 7”), mucho tiempo de batería, a ver que tal se porta… [...]

  38. pligg.com says:

    Red Hat Magazine | Fedora + Eee PC = Eeedora

    I am a fan of affordable technology. I like relatively cheap gadgets, and I like open source. When I heard about Asus’ Eee PC, I took it with a certain grain of salt. I thought that maybe it was just another company trying to take a piece of the pie …

  39. SOG knives says:

    SOG knives

    Interesting ideas… I wonder how the Hollywood media would portray this?

  40. Joe S. says:

    I found eeedora again at http://eeedora.complexvalues.com/

  41. Johnny Rosenberg says:

    #13: Yeah, right… Do you have any more stupid suggestions?
    I used Windows (XP Pro, 2000 Pro, 98) for years (not on the Eee though) and I’m happy to say: Never ever again!

    Currently Ubuntuu Eee is installed on my Eee, but it’s too slow for my needs, so I am looking for something faster, but not too simple. Suggestions?

    Pupeee was too simple but incredibly fast. Old software by default and I never understood how to get a wired connection to the Internet.

    Xandros (Easy Mode) was reasonable fast, but its standard repository contained the very outdated 2.0.4 version of OpenOffice.org. The most annoying thing was, however, the use of drive letters! Why why whyyyyyy?

    Xandros (Advanced Mode) is a KDE version. Unfortunately it use drive letters too, which I, as I said, find extremely annoying.

    Ubuntu Eee is great, but way too slow for me. I like it for compatibility with my other computers.

    Eeedora is one of those I didn’t try yet. How is it? As fast as Xandros but more advanced?

    Is there one distribution for me out there? It should probably be based on Debian, I prefer Gnome over KDE and XFCE, but there are still some stuff out there I didn’t try so far. All hardware of the Eee should work (Eee 900, Swedish) etcetera.